Stoicism on Wisdom: Suffering is Self-Generated – It is a Choice
Question: Sadness, depression, anger and anxiety are parts of human life. It is normal to have these thoughts and feelings from time to time, right?
Nobody’s life is entirely free of pain and sorrow. Isn’t it a question of learning to live with them instead of transcending them?
To answer this question, you need to know that the pain that you feel is a result of unacceptance of the present moment.
Whatever the circumstance is, if you feel that the present moment is somewhat lacking, incomplete or not good enough, pain and dissatisfaction arises.
Because of this, psychological sufferings like depression, sadness and anxiety are self generated and not the default state of human consciousness. It is the results of ego and compulsive thinking.
When you stop resisting the present moment – not wanting it to be other than what “is” – then you’ll transcend your thoughts and sufferings. This is the default state of consciousness.
This will cause a shift in awareness and free you of pain. You are no longer judging, comparing, believing or taking positions. Now you are just accepting and loving the present moment.
You stop believing and identifying with the thoughts your mind comes up with. For ex:
“Why am I sitting around like this? There are so many things to do. I should do stuff. I need to fill my time with doing. I need to stop wasting time.” – A common suffering-producing thought pattern
Now look at the thought pattern above. People who suffer from feelings of depression and procrastination believe a similar thought pattern like the above.
If you want to get free of this pain, you need to see this thought as is. You don’t have to believe this thought.
Who is even saying “Why am I sitting around like this?”. Who is asking this question? There are 2 different selves there. If the voice is not you, then who is the voice and who is it talking to?
That chatter of the mind is the ego and what you need to realize is that those thoughts are not true. They are not your thoughts. You don’t have to believe in them. Because the moment you believe in them, suffering arises.
If you don’t want to take these thoughts so seriously, you need to teach yourself to be present. Be present to your environment. Be present to your inner feelings. Witness your thoughts. Don’t judge them. Don’t want them to be anything else than what they are.
What this will do is to stop the resistance. When the resistance stops, you feel the present moment. When you are present, suffering-producing thoughts can not exist.
If you want to learn more about the importance of presence, I have some additional resources for you.
What is Enlightenment: A Step By Step Practical Guide
How I Experienced A State of No Thought and Peace: Exactly How It Happened
Stoicism & Buddhism: Similarities and Differences
How Depression Can Induce Enlightenment
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It was such a relief to learn that I don’t have to be a prisoner of my thoughts or ego and much of our suffering is of our own doing. We can choose to have peace in our lives.
That’s correct Alice. Life is a series of experiences but you have full control over your reactions to those experiences. Negative thoughts can come by every now and then and you can still choose to stay calm.
When you are free from the tyranny of ego, life just becomes easy and joyful.
Now you can live your life enjoying even the smallest of moments without guilt or sadness 🙂
When you speak of depression Be careful. Mental illness can not be cured by meditation and mindfulness alone and ego is not the only culprit.