Mindset Habit #5

Suffer Well.

While this sounds oxymoronic, the idea will save you years and years of painful struggling imposed on yourself, by yourself.

There is a Buddhist parable of “the second arrow.” Picture yourself walking through the forrest and you get hit, unexpectedly, with an arrow. It hurts like hell. You see the archer from a distance and can’t believe he shot you. The pain is radiating down your side, and you start to spiral into a thought frenzy of the damaged it has caused, how it will affect your life, and how unfair it is that this happened to you. All of the sudden, BAM! Arrow two hits in the exact same place and the pain has overtaken your body. It’s excruciating. You look up to see the archer, except this time, it is YOU who is the archer, hitting yourself in the same spot and increasing the pain exponentially.

The idea is, when you get hit with an arrow and it’s painful, the second arrow can only be shot by you. And that second arrow is your resistance to the first arrow. If you can accept that you got hit, and it fucking sucks, and acknowledge the pain, and work through, the pain and suffering you cause yourself will be much less than if you are resistant to it.

Kristin Neff, Ph.D, has an equation for this in her book Self-Compassion, and that is:

Suffering = Pain x Resistance.

The more you resist, the greater the suffering.

We will all suffer to some extent in life. We need suffering (i.e. discomfort, pain, hardships) for growth. Just as the lotus needs disgusting conditions to grow, and coal needs immense pressure to become a diamond, there will be horribly uncomfortable times in life. There will be hardships and let downs and frustrations and things that are unfair. “Bad” things WILL happen. It is how we handle and respond to those things that determines our level of suffering.

To share something completely personal (to all my MFF fam in this group, please keep this between us), for a period of time earlier in the year, I was ready to move on from my job at Mark Fisher Fitness and caused myself a ton of suffering because of it.

It’s not because I don’t love it, but I was impatiently trying to move on to the next chapter of life. I’ve been there for 5 years, and while it’s been incredible, I suffered through several months months because I was so resistant to staying there. My “second arrow” thought pattern went something like this:

“I hate that someone else makes my schedule. I hate that I have to be approved to go on vacation or take a day off. I hate our 2 hour staff meetings every week with no actionable take-aways. I hate commuting home at the end of the day for over an hour. I hate dealing with highly emotional, special snowflake actors. I hate that I still have student loans to pay off and debt from a previous divorce. I hate that I’m in the position that I have to stay.” Hate, hate, hate, spewing negativity….second arrowing the FUCK out of myself.

The resistance I felt toward keeping my job made my time there extremely painful…. and I was doing it to myself. MFF is truly one of the most magical, wonderful places on Earth, and we are extremely taken care of. But because I’m not where I want to be, it’s easy to blame something external and resist it with everything inside of me.

It has only been within the last couple of months that I’ve smacked the shit out of myself and gave myself a huge way up call. I AM THE REASON I’M SUFFERING. Resistance is a killer. I needed to reframe my thoughts and create a new mindset. Here’s how I’ve reframed it:

Former thought: “I hate that someone else makes my schedule.”

New thought: “I get to show up and the clients are already there. I don’t have to hustle and struggle to get clients. My schedule is already made and the clients just show up.”

Former thought: “I hate that I have to be approved to go on vacation or take a day off. “

New thought: “I have to ask for these vacation days in advance so I can get paid vacation time off. How many training companies provide paid vacation for their employees?”

Former thought: “I hate our 2 hour staff meetings every week with no actionable take-aways.”

New thought: “How awesome that my company provides education and training and wants us all to be on the same page? If it’s review for our newer staff and I already know it, how can I add to the conversation to help others on our team grow?”

Former thought: “ I hate commuting home at the end of the day for over an hour.”

New thought: “How can I use my commute time to learn or unwind? Also, how incredible that our company gets our metro cards pre-taxed so we save money every year?!”

Former thought: “I hate dealing with highly emotional, special snowflake actors.”

New thought: “Having the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people helps me grow as a coach and be better equipped to serve more people. I’m getting better at my craft and developing empathy and patience by working with this clientele.”

Former thought: “ I hate that I still have student loans to pay off and debt from a previous divorce.”

New thought: “I am so grateful I had the opportunity to go to school and get a degree that I loved. And, I’m SOOOO GRATEFUL that I have debt from leaving a relationship that wasn’t serving me, and that I’m no longer in that relationship. Money will always come. Happiness, peace of mind, and being in a wonderful relationship is worth it.”

You can see the thought patterns that can destroy and the thought patterns that can serve. I was creating suffering out of a pretty incredible thing because of my mindset.

Can you accept the hardships? Can you accept the struggle? Can you accept where you are while you’re working to change it? Can you shift your mindset or redirect your thoughts to serve you in any situation, rather than shooting the second arrow in and resisting?

Your next mindset habit: Suffer well.