Race Sherpa Rises

Race Sherpa Rises

Monday, June 8, 2015

Self-inflicted Suffering

"I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

As I mentioned on my Facebook post after my oncology appointment, I can't say that I am "loving" the questions right now. But I am accepting of them. At least right now. One of the first things I learned many many years ago about managing stress is: don't worry too much about the things you can't control. We could really extend this thought further, however, to: or to things that might never happen.

Think about how much of our internal stress is due to thinking about things we can't control and/or to things that might never happen. Imagine the ease you would feel if you could eliminate those two categories from your daily mental load. Of course, actually eliminating them completely is difficult, if not impossible. We are emotional beings, and we have deep, built-in biological responses. These responses are important and can serve a very useful purpose. But even taking those in to account, it's probably safe to say that for most of us, a large share of our daily internal suffering is self-inflicted.

Again, this is not to discount the real pains and sorrows of life. Not at all. When talking to others about the idea of self-inflicted stress, it's interesting to me how some people immediately seek out counter examples; life in a war zone, losing a spouse or child, discovering that you have a terminal illness; as if they are somehow compelled to justify their own mental/emotional processing. I am in no way suggesting that there aren't "real" situations and scenarios worthy of the full spectrum of the emotions we are heir to. What I am saying is that there are many more examples in our daily lives that do not demand that mental/emotional response, but we give it to them anyway.

And for what? What do we gain by holding on to fear (or anger, or resentment, or...) over things we can't control or things that might never happen (or things that have happened in the past)? What would we lose by letting them go? I think if we all took a hard look in the mirror, we would find that we are all holding on to things. Things that don't truly serve us, or those around us.

How you choose to respond is up to you. It is not for me to judge. We are the result of our own experiences and choices, so it is not my place to say what is right or wrong for you. But for me, I don't want to hold on to unnecessary negative emotions. For me, they take away from my ability to be present with myself and with those around me.

But let's save the development of this idea for later. I have more things to say on being present, the hypnotic quality of language, and the power of our thoughts. :)

A number of people have written to me saying, "Oh, it must be so hard to play the waiting game and not know..." Well, on one hand that might be true, but frankly, as long as a specialist in oncology remains unsure, I see that as an opportunity for things to be better than worse.

It's not that I am in denial (I don't think), it's that there is not enough diagnostic information available yet to be sure of anything. So, as I have written to many of you...I choose to remain positive until there is a reason to not be. And even then, I will remain as positive and as upbeat as I can. Even if further information turns out to be in the "worse" category, I can feel good about the fact that I have not wasted the last two weeks of precious life by being mired in negative thoughts about what might be true. I have been present with life, with myself, and with others.

I do not say all of this to boast. There are times when I have not been, and will not be, as successful. I say this as a pat on the back to myself, and as an encouragement to keep going.

I have not mentioned yet that the oncologist told me that the only reason I was sitting in his office last week is because I was aware enough of my own internal "sensing" to know that something unusual was going on. He said that for many people, it's likely that it could have taken another 5-10 years before they would have come in. Rose and I both laughed (a little), knowing that I had written the post on the importance of paying attention just the night before. Whatever is going on, I am glad that we found it now.

So, the journey continues. I have an appointment with the surgeon in two hours. And, I continue to pack up a house I need to move out of next weekend. Everything marches onward.

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