Suffering and Dissatisfaction

Recently, during a model call, you did a model on my thought about “What do I do about the people around me who are suffering?” – and you explained that “People suffer” – and that I’m only responsible for easing my own suffering. That was a BIG ah-ha moment for me – especially around being able to accept and love other people – without feeling a need to change them (solve their suffering) for my benefit (to not suffer).

I had something that stacks on top of that – so I thought I’d share. I was recently reading Sam Harris’ book “Waking Up” – where he talks about “suffering” as being “dissatisfaction” in many people. I liked that interpretation – because “suffering” seems extreme – but I think humans do seem to experience a constant state of dissatisfaction – always floating between the pleasure and pain. I liked that – because I could see the reality of dissatisfaction in humans as a whole.

So last night, my partner and I were traveling to an event in Dallas from the ‘burbs. Music on. I was mentally blissing out at being open and letting things go (I was the passenger). Kind of a “moving meditation”. It was nice.

Now my partner is someone who comes to experiences with expectations (like most humans probably do). If they’re met, the experience was great. If they’re not met, the experience was bad. And I get to hear about every little “ding” to his expectations. Well, from moment #1 during last night’s event, it was a series of dings … unmet expectations. I used to try to counter his “negative” comments with the opposite “positive” comments – but that didn’t “work” (i.e. change him so I could feel good) – and sometimes it even heightened his unease. So I now focus my time on releasing my own personal expectations. And I find that I’ve been able to release my own expectations on these type of events – even if things don’t fit the imagined “best scenario” picture I may have had in my head. But I realized that I would WISH in my head that my partner could do the same thing. We’d be both experiencing some “bump” during an event – and I’d see it as fine or interesting – and he’d see it as terrible or disheartening, something that ruined the evening. I wished for him the ability to change his thoughts around the event.

And something clicked in me… The “People suffer” thought you gave me… the concept of “I don’t want people to suffer so I don’t suffer”… also turns into “People are dissatisfied” … and “I don’t want people to be dissatisfied so I’m not dissatisfied”. I realized that I’m able to be perfectly satisfied with 99% of my experience at these events – EXCEPT for my partner … who I constantly wish COULD totally accept his own experience at these events! LOL! I’m thinking… “I totally GET how he could be dissatisfied – because I’m dissatisfied that HE’s not satisfied!” So I realized that my work extends beyond suffering to also include “People Are Dissatisfied” and “I’m only responsible for easing my own dissatisfaction – in the experience AND in my partner’s response to an experience”.

So here are some models:

Unintentional Model:

C: Partner Says He’s Not Happy with Event
T: I wish I could make him satisfied, but I can’t
F: Dissatisfied/Uneasy
A: Keep ruminating on each dissatisfied comment he makes, ignore him
R: I’m dissatisfied

Intentional Model:

C: Partner says he’s not happy with event
T: He’s dissatisfied and that’s okay. I love him
F: Peaceful, loving
A: Kindness to partner
R: Enjoy the event and my experience with my partner

Do these seem like solid models? They make sense to me but figured I’d check.

It’s funny. I remember Byron Katie saying “The teacher you need is the person you’re living with” – and I remember thinking… “WHAT? This Byron Katie lady is a loon!” But over time, I now see that my partner IS the perfect teacher for me – because he’s teaching me how to stop my own suffering (AND dissatisfaction) – and how I can stop my own suffering without needing anyone else to change. And he’s teaching me love and acceptance – without him changing one iota. It’s REALLY freeing doing this work. 🙂

Thank you, Brooke!