We all have pain – physical, mental, emotional – and we all suffer.
You probably know that by now; you’re smart.
What you might NOT know is that the source of your pain is also the source of your passion, creativity, + happiness.
Did I just blow your mind there?
Pain + suffering are a natural part of human life, but that doesn’t mean you need to live + act from a sense of pain + suffering. Once you can identify the source of your suffering, it can lose its power of you. That’s when you “flip the script” (thank you, 90s music) + use your pain to create positive change.
In Yoga philosophy, pain + suffering are said to come from just 3 sources: the tapatraya. Loosely translated as “the three miseries”, all pain + suffering can be linked back to at least 1 of these 3 sources:
- Adhyatmika [aad-he-aat-me-ka]: Pain + suffering that comes from within ourselves. This includes diseases, physical pain, worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, attachments, + expectations.
- Adhibhautika [aad-he-bow-tee-ka]: Pain + suffering that comes from our relationships with others. This includes friends, family, strangers, animals, “enemies”, sympathy, empathy, physical violence, verbal abuse, + even concepts like the economy – overall, it may seem “out of our control”, but it’s still connected to you + your well-being.
- Adhidaivika [aad-he-die-vee-ka]: Pain + suffering that comes from all that is truly outside our control. This includes environmental disasters, nature in general, time, growing older – some call it the “unseen hand of fate” – leading to feelings of insecurity, instability, + the overall reminder of our impermanence.
You might be thinking, “OK, that’s great. Now I know where my suffering comes from, but how can I END my suffering!?”
By simply having knowledge of the source of your pain + categorizing it, you’ve already taken control over it. The good news is that’s just the beginning.
Now that you know WHERE your pain + suffering are coming from, you can USE it to fill your life with passion, creativity, + happiness – yes indeed!
Just how do you do that? All you need is two words: pratipaksha bhavanam. You might remember me mentioning pratipaksha bhavanam in a previous post (which you should definitely read, if you haven’t already), but we’re going to take a fresh angle on it this time. Another version of pratipaksha bhavanam is the modern concept of Opportunity Thinking.
Opportunity Thinking (OT) is a skill that you cultivate over time, much like all aspects of Yoga. OT requires you to suspend your negativity so you can think creatively about your pain + suffering. You’re resisting the urge to jump to judgments or conclusions, looking for a fatal flaw, or focusing on just the problem.
Instead, you can use OT to look for the positive side – the “opportunity” within the pain + suffering you’re experiencing. You have to think “outside of the box” of your current mental + emotional patterns, challenging your judgments (which are based on your life up to this point). Broaden your scope, looking for “what could be” – what could be the benefits, opportunities, savings, advantages … etc.
Focus more on what you DO with what happens to you, rather than WHAT has happened to you. [Click to Tweet + Share the Awesome!]
So how do you DO Opportunity Thinking? Simple: just DO it!
The next time you’re feeling less than stellar, open a new document on your computer or grab a piece of paper + something to write with. Now imagine that you just read a post online from someone who’s having the exact issue and/or in the exact situation you are. You’ve never met them before + you probably never will.
Now, how can you help them? How can they improve their situation? Suspend your emotional attachment to the issue + think “outside of the box” about why this could be GOOD instead of misery-inducing. What are the benefits, opportunities, advantages, sources of creative inspiration … etc.?
Be patient with yourself. It takes practice – LOTS of practice (just like Yoga) – but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Eventually, you’ll find yourself OT’ing right when something starts to go south + finding the awesome in every situation.
What’s ONE situation in your life right now that you can “flip the script” on + use Opportunity Thinking to your advantage?
COMMENT below, share your thoughts, + join the conversation!
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