Sunday, November 08, 2015

Suffering is Not for the Faint of Heart

In case you haven't read my byline, I am a Christian. It doesn't mean so many of the things that people think it does, sure some of the rumors are true, but really?

Anyway, I would like to broach the topic of suffering. It's a bit scary to look for a definition to back up my thoughts and find that Wikipedia has a pretty in-depth article on suffering. Most of the time suffering is all about physical pain, Sure I have my aches and pains. Many other times suffering is about the mental issues. People are generally focused on their own problems, and many have issues that need help, and need work.

I could talk about what Christians consider suffering, being persecuted for our religion, but I think that there is a suffering that everyone is subject to in life.

This week has been a tough one for our office. Who hasn't had a tough week at work? My previous job had four years with the possibility of losing funding. Our leadership was extremely supportive throughout the whole process, but I was suffering from a few related issues, despite the support. I was tired of the island, near the end, tired of possibility that I wouldn't have a job, and just all the thoughts about where we would go and what we would do.

I did not handle it well, my work certainly suffered and I regret that I could have done more. But how can we do better? Is there a way to suffer joyfully? I would say that the answer is yes and there is a belief system that could definitely help with this. However, if you don't want to listen to that from me, there are still a few things to consider.

First: Are the people causing you suffering really just trying to make your life miserable? This is a really tough question because most people don't want to think about how the people causing suffering could possibly not be doing it intentionally. If the answer is still yes, even after you try to figure it out, then there is another question to ask: Are they trying to make me suffer just to make themselves feel better? If they are you have much deeper problems and should be considering formal action or moving away from the situation. But in both situations you need to be joyful. There is no other way. Not so obviously "fake" happy, because then you are probably going to try to take things, like revenge, into your own hands. That bent means that you are going to do ridiculous, potentially dumb things just to be able to rub their face in it.

Second: Sitting around wondering what a weird exchange means and being crabby about it is not going to do anyone good. Unfortunately I suffered from this malady on Tuesday and have been a bit slow in connecting my recent knowledge about suffering to this situation. I became overly righteous, condemning the action, not realizing that some leaders aren't leading because they are trained leaders, but rather are in the position because they were there.

Some people are born leaders, sure, some people will get training and be good leaders, some will fail and make mistakes that may seem obvious, and then there are those who will never learn but still have more power than they know how to handle. To put a leader in the fourth category right away without any thought to situation, background, training or lack thereof, and experience, is to write them off. It is not recommended as humans are not perfect representations of their own abilities at all times.

In a situation where there can be no mistakes, maybe putting a new leader in the position will solve the problem. That certainly worked well for Abraham Lincoln after how many generals? The problem is when the leader is seen to be failing at many levels and we are suffering because of it. Is there insight we could lend? Experience leading, pointing out concepts and language that might very well cause suffering?

I could go on about leading, having some experience myself, but we need to get back to suffering.

Third: Are we, ourselves prolonging our suffering because we are comfortable? It sounds strange but it is much easier for us to deal with the current discomfort than to try to imagine stepping out and changing something. I am talking positive change, though there may be suffering in it too. Can we help to alleviate suffering? Can we take the demotivation and turn it into motivation and action? Can we ask for help? Can we leave?

The reason I left the last question to last is because I am afraid of some people answering that question with a "yes." But is is a possibility. To focus on the more constructive, grumbling and moving on is one thing, grumbling and never getting over it but prolonging it just to feel better about grumbling? I am guilty. In a previous post I said that I would not complain without result. I have complained all this last week so now it is time for me to push for the positive change. Learning leaders are just human means that people suffer, knowing they are can help us to suffer joyfully and then help to change the climate.

When suffering at a small scale, such as this is, can be done joyfully, then when the true suffering comes we will have better tools to deal with it. Don't be afraid to suffer, just don't wallow in it, please?

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