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Suffering is an inescapable factor in life. Tragedies occur, and even if they do not strike us directly, they brush by so close that we are touched by them.

The injustice of sudden illness or death, the pain of loss, anger at unwanted change… we understand that we’ll experience events that’ll make us suffer and, as a rule, people are pretty stoical about it and can rise to the challenge in surprising ways.

At such times we learn about our own resilience, and far from thinking we can escape the inevitable pangs and pains of regret and woe, we mostly agree that terrible though a personal tragedy may be, we accept it and even welcome it.

Perhaps ‘welcome’ is not the right word, but how often do we hear people who have lived through some extreme personal trial say that they wouldn’t have missed it because it has made them a better person?

How odd it is then, that when it comes to self-inflicted suffering we are unwilling or unable to marshal the same resources. When it comes to the turmoil of our own emotions, or pain caused by our own deceits and deceptions, or the legacy of abuse and mistreatment… (the list is endless), we play the damage to the hilt by presenting ourselves as hapless victims, rather than the hero in our own story, as real and unavoidable suffering repeatedly shows us to be.

 

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