“Suffering is a choice.” Many people get confused by this statement. “If I’m in pain, how can I not suffer?” they might say. Well, I’m here to tell you that suffering is a mindset. One person may suffer because they allow it to take over their life, whereas another might look at what they can still do instead.
How does this relate to business, though?
Well, I see many people who are suffering from their problems. Instead of remedy the situation, they choose to continue experiencing that problem time and again.
This can be something simple, like not choosing to set a reminder for something important, or more complex, like allowing ego to get in the way of an effective solution to a decision.
Let’s understand this a bit more, and look at how we can move on.
What is Suffering?
First, it’s important to understand there are different types of suffering: physical, mental, emotional and psychological.
In this article, we’re clearly not looking at physical suffering, but more around emotions. If you are choosing not to solve a problem, by some definitions, you are choosing to suffer the emotions that are associated with that problem repeatedly.
This might include stress, fear, anger (possibly at yourself if you lost money because of this repeated problem), or even sadness. You might also feel shame or guilt if the impact of inaction was on someone else.
The truth is, you do have a choice to solve the problem, but are choosing not to for some reason. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you will continue to experience this discomfort time and again because of your inaction or indecision. That’s where you are choosing to suffer continually.
What turns solvable problems into unsolvable ones?
It’s very common for certain personality types to believe they can’t do something. They turn back to ways that are comfortable almost immediately, finding reasons or excuses for doing so. They’ll justify this in a multitude of ways, but often it comes down to feeling like a victim.
Once you start to see through the lens of being a victim, problem solving ceases. Now, my intention is not to point out the bad in people. We all experience this at some point in our lives, so it’s important to respect the part of you which feels like “you can’t” and understand it’s positive intentions.
It is likely protecting you from something that would be deeply uncomfortable for you. What is that?
Once you recognise this pattern, you can begin to undo it, and choose to solve problems in a way that embraces the difficulty you’re facing. For many people, the main discomfort is uncertainty.
Unclear Paths Forward
Some of the difficulty you might face will come down to decisions that you have to make. You might have multiple paths forward but are unable to see the outcomes. That might be deeply uncomfortable for you. The indecision leads to inaction, which leads to suffering problems repeatedly.
Perfectionism can have taken hold in these moments. You might not feel like you can accept anything less than perfection, holding yourself to a standard which is completely impossible.
Seeing Through a Different Lens
When we make decisions, we make them through a “lens.” Our emotions dictate much of what this lens looks like.
You might have heard people say “don’t make decisions when you’re angry.” Well, the same is true of other emotions. You shouldn’t make decisions when you’re scared, jealous, or sad either. Any emotion changes the decision you’re likely to make.
In business coaching, I aim to be that neutral voice which will help you see the options you have and dispassionately examine the future.
This intervention allows you to remain in a very clear place, with challenges and decisions not clouded by emotions that you are experiencing at that time.
How can you do this on your own though? Let’s find out.
Growth Mindset to the Rescue
Switching to a growth mindset is important in these victim and perfectionist moments.
With a growth mindset, you can only win or learn; there is no “fail.” You accept that at any point along your journey, you can move down a different path and you’ll still be OK. It is the antidote to both victim and perfectionist thinking.
“I’ll be OK, no matter what the outcome, because I’ll learn and try again.”
From this mindset, you can ask yourself some more useful questions, like:
This question helps you to reignite options that you’ve previously shut down. When we discount options before really evaluating them, we can become very boxed in and stuck, with no way forward.
This question helps you to evaluate whether some of those options are worth fighting for, or whether there’s really no point to them.
This question is helpful if there’s some personal development needed to overcome a challenge on the path, such as becoming a public speaker, or learning a new skill that will be difficult and time consuming for you.
This question prompts you to think how a problem could be solved, rather than discounting solutions based on the initial ideas that came to mind.
If you let you mind wander on the problem, you’ll often come with solutions that you’d not originally anticipated. Allow yourself an hour and put an intention in your mind to find new solutions to this problem. Let your mind dream of new ideas.
Don’t Suffer Problems, Solve Them Instead
Really, there are no problems you have to suffer through. You can choose to solve them all, even if it means doing something that might take time or be a challenge for you. At least you’ll have moved on and felt good about doing so.
It’s worth solving a problem if it means reducing the amount of suffering that your future self will experience.