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3 Reasons We Cause Ourselves To Suffer

3 Reasons We Cause Ourselves To Suffer

“The mind is its own place, and in it self can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.” — John Milton

Understanding why we cause ourselves to suffer is the first step in learning to let go and be free of our attachments. Anthony Robbins, in his book, Unlimited Power, says that everything we do in life comes from our need to avoid pain and our desire to gain pleasure. We will do far more to avoid pain then we will to gain pleasure. Pain is the great motivator. And yet if pleasure and happiness is what we all are looking for why do we cause ourselves so much suffering?

Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron in her book The Places That Scare You describes how we suffer due to three misunderstandings:

1. We expect that which is always changing to be predictable. Even though we can see that life is constantly shifting, we continue to live our lives thinking that nothing will change. We demand a sense of security in our lives and so we attach to the illusion of permanence in an impermanent world.

2. We go about our lives thinking we are separate from everything with a fixed ego identity. Life is all about me, myself, and I. Whether we are building ourselves up to be something special or knocking ourselves down with self-criticism, the center of our universe is the irrefutable ego-driven self.

3. We look for happiness in situations that cause suffering. We take many actions that provide a temporary relief from our afflicted emotions, but then they turn around and whack us upside the head. For example, alcohol and drugs dull the reality of your life, but then shift you right back into an even greater pain. Shopaholics have the distraction of buying things to fill the emptiness, but then are faced with the bills to pay.

Food, drink, drugs, adventure, sex, and entertainment can be a whole lot of fun, but in the end they can cause pain and suffering. Buddhist teachings tell us that these distractions keep us from bypassing the controlling ego and finding our true Self. Nonetheless, they are as much a part of the path toward liberation as restraint, compassion, moral conduct, and kindness. Every step you take is your path—all the difficulties as well as those moments of happiness. Our petty tyrants and challenging situations are the lessons we meet on our spiritual journey, in order to learn compassion and loving-kindness. When life becomes difficult, we have to do something to ease the discomfort.

We are constantly trying to stabilize ourselves on a ship that is being tossed around in a storm at sea. Rather than go with the flow, we try to make life predictable, which feels safe. I remember seeing a cartoon that summed up for me how unpredictable life can be. It was a picture of the corner of a brick building. Coming from the right is a peanut vendor, with his tray of peanuts hanging from his neck as he calls out, “Peanuts for sale.” To the left, pressed up against the side of the building, lying in wait, is an elephant.

You never know what is waiting around the corner, but you can be sure that it will be something you didn’t expect or plan for.

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Delia Quigley

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 30 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia's credentials include author, artist, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia's blogs: and. To view her website go to


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4:56AM PDT on May 2, 2013

thanks for the article

12:08AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013


3:19AM PST on Nov 30, 2012

Thanks for the article

9:32AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Food for thought..........

6:03AM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

Thank you

5:43AM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Thanks for the article.

7:12PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Ouch humans are sooo idiotic!

2:13AM PDT on May 22, 2011

Thanks ..... Very good concise points by the Buddist nun to guide one.

10:53AM PDT on May 21, 2011

Thanks for the info - I'm going to put it in my favs to remind myself to look at it whenever I need to.

NoEmails - I am sorry for your loss.

4:40PM PDT on May 17, 2011

These are quite accurate. I especially like the points about the illusion of permanence---how we seek out, find & surround ourselves with things & people that give us a sense of security, forgetting that life is fluid & that things & people change. Remembering this will avoid a lot of pain.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Thanks for sharing.

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owwwwwww so cute. Looks like he is dancing.


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