One Suffering: Beyond Uniqueness, 6 Hardships We All Endure

“We are each unique, but if more people shared their personal stories of suffering, we would realize truly how similar we all are.” ~On Twitter this week

One subject that I continually revisit (and really try to articulate in many different ways) on DaveUrsillo.com is that each human being is unique, specific, distinct, and special.

Just as no two human faces are exactly the same, no two human beings are exactly the same. Similarly, every person is unique insofar as we each possess a distinct and different set of interests, natural talents and skills, and passions that create a special person.

Beyond Our Individuality…

Each person contains within themselves a world of potential for “spiritual” growth (a “human” spirituality, or a nonreligious spirit based in compassion, goodness and love toward others) and inner development that, with time, can help us find true happiness and fulfillment.

However, I believe that one of the greatest causes of our personal suffering suffering within the confines of our mind — is believing that the pain we have individually endured is particularly unique to us; that what we have been forced to struggle through and overcome in our lives is specific and unmatched to what anyone else has endured.

In other words, we perceive our pain to be intrinsically different somehow… as if our anguish is completely unique and distinct, no different than how we are as distinct human beings. The result is that we feel particularly overburdened by our suffering: that no one could truly understand what difficulties we’ve been through. The pains that we have endured thus makes us feel isolated, alone.

But the truth is that the human species — the entirety of the human population — endures anguish and hardships in life. Everyone. And, because pain is such a widely shared trait or “affliction” of the human species, it’s as if there exists… One Suffering… that each of us similarly endures to various degrees.

Truly, if more people were to be open and honestly share the deeply personal experiences of their anguish and pain, I believe that we would be amazed and relieved to recognize that we are not alone in our hardships.

Each human being is unique, and surely no two men or women have endured the exact same life or personal history or experiences of pain and anguish. Nevertheless, when we focus less on the differences of our suffering and recognize more that we all share “One Suffering;” our wounds heal faster, our pains subside quicker, and we gain a wonderful and renewed connection to others around us and humanity at large.

6 Hardships That We All Endure

1) Loss

Without death, there could be no life. But that reality is hardly a comfort to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Loss is a piece of our One Suffering: everyone endures loss.

However, the chances are great that if you open up to family and friends — immersing yourself in the presence of others, rather than running away — you will hear their own stories of loss and hardship, and in understanding their similarities, will no longer feel isolated and alone. Hearing others’ stories creates a bond of shared suffering; although you do not want to know that others have suffered like you, there is some solemn comfort in knowing that we all share One Suffering.

2) Heartache

As a 24-year-old guy, I meet many of young men and women who have endured terrible heartache. What I came to notice when speaking to so many heartbroken young adults is this: if we have endured but one bad breakup, we share heartache as part of One Suffering.

“Everyone,” I found myself telling friends, “who is our age and is single, has suffered from terrible heartache.”

The reason that we perceive our own heartache to be the worst out of anyone else’s, of course, is because the heartache has happened to us directly. With heartache, we have been hurt us so deeply and had our lives affected so severely. Focus less upon the differences of our emotional pain and recognize that everyone suffers heartache.

3) Sadness

We take the anguish and pain of sadness for granted because we recognize that sadness is a natural human emotion and that every human being has felt, does feel, and will feel sadness in their lives. Sadness is a natural component of our One Suffering.

If you are dealing with sadness, anxiety or depression, share your feelings of sadness with others — whether friends, family, strangers, or a doctor or therapist. Expressing the emotional anguish that we are battling is often one of the very first steps to overcoming it.

4) Fear

Every human being encounters fear. We fear the unknown, we fear what hurts us, we fear change, we fear what cannot be changed, we fear death. Fear is shared as a part of humanity’s One Suffering. We each encounter and must endure fear.

As President Roosevelt once said, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear is nothing more but another emotion. When we reject fear as a form of personal agony or torment, and recognize that all human beings encounter fear in their lives, we begin to appreciate that fear is just another emotion that we can endure and survive by our choosing.

5) Conflict

Every human being will endure conflict. Whether the conflict is on a major scale (such as war), or a minor scale (such as personal arguments and confrontations), conflict is a natural cause and component of humanity’s One Suffering. However, we can overcome the personal emotional pain caused by conflict by communicating with others.

Instead of focusing upon our differences, intently reflect and discuss our similarities. Despite their physical and cultural differences, two people from opposing sides of the Earth can come together and bond over similar suffering caused by conflict.

6) Failure

A major cause of personal, emotional pain is failure — whether it’s a fear of failure or a fear of rejection, or the type of crippling insecurity and doubt that naturally result from failing and being criticized. We are bound to encounter failure and criticism in every aspect of our lives, from friendships and relationships to business and academics.

Failure should not be the cause of great personal anguish because everyone encounters and endures failure.

Although failure is not enjoyable, to say the least, utilize failure as the means to assess your efforts, energy and focus. Share (don’t hide) your failures from others — when you discuss your shortcomings, others will open up and share their own shortcomings. You just might learn how to overcome your suffering and use failure to your benefit.

Flickr Photo Credit: Andi Jetaime

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