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Why do we have to suffer to grow, god damn it?

better life better life tips coaching happiness mindfulness questions answered suffering Jan 07, 2020
Why do we have to suffer to grow suffering

(By Eldad Ben-MosheReading Time: 6 minutes)

Loved ones ❤

Last week a good friend asked me, “why do we have to suffer to grow?”

She’s having a hard time for some years now, and if that’s not enough,
about 2 months ago her big love left her, broken-hearted and disillusioned.

Not easy.

But she’s amazing, courageous, and never gives up.
I love her deeply. 

And as we were sitting in the sauna, sweating things out and talking about it all,
she asked me why growth has to happen through suffering. 

We’ve all been there, right?
It’s such a common question.

‘Why can’t it all just be easier, man?’
‘Why is it so hard?’
‘Why do we have to suffer to grow, god damn it?‘

Truth is,  we don’t have to suffer to grow.
It doesn't have to be so hard.
It can be easier. 

But what’s also true is that almost all of us don’t care enough to grow without it.
We could if we wanted to, but apparently, we don’t. Not strong enough, at least.

Here’s how it goes:

1. Growth means change.

A small change, a significant change, a change that you notice, or one that you don’t.
Internal change, external change, or both.

Any way you look at it, growth means change.

If a tree grew an inch taller, it changed, at least in height.
If you became an ‘inch’ wiser, or happier, or stronger - you changed.

Growth means change. 
And many times, bigger growth means bigger change.

But our ego doesn’t always like changes.
And bigger changes are even more threatening.

They can bring up all sorts of fears: fear of failure, fear of pain, and most of all -
fear of death and fear of the unknown (those are usually unconscious).

The result?

As far as significant growth is concerned,
most of the time we don’t really want to do what it takes to make it.

There’s a belief that significant changes are required and fear of those big changes. 

We want to want growth enough for those changes to happen,
but we don’t -
otherwise, we would have already done what it takes.

Usually, it doesn’t take as much as we thought, and it’s not as hard or scary as we think.

There are a lot of mental ‘paper tigers’ in our mind,
and we’re reacting to what we believe, not to what’s real.

No one is stopping us, yet many times we end up watching Netflix,
scrolling through Facebook, daydreaming, emotionally eating, etc.

2. We all have our habitual pitfalls.

But don’t blame technology.

The same was happening before, just in different forms.
Suffering did not start with Facebook or smartphones.
It’s not about them, or any ‘them’ you can think of.

And don’t blame yourself either.

It’s about our fears, comfort, and lack of motivation.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’m not judging it -
I’m simply painting the picture of what is, without the judgment.

3. Fears.

Fears such as fear of the unknown can be paralyzing.

And when your mind starts telling you ‘pain stories’ such as ‘you will fail,’
‘it will bring suffering,’ ‘it will end in tears’ -

That doesn’t make it easier to take action, does it?

Again, remember this:
We react according to what we believe, not according to what is real.

4. Comfort.

Comfort can be both numbing and addictive.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘comfort zone.’

Usually, it’s used to say that to grow, you need to leave the comfort of what you know,
what you’re used to, and do something different.

Doing the same thing, staying in the same spot that you’re stuck in,
won’t bring growth or change. 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,
but expecting different results.”

- Albert Einstein

You cannot have growth without change.

So you can keep being a couch potato, sit on the comfortable couch next to the fireplace
(metaphorically, and sometimes not…), and have no change.

Or you can get out of your comfort zone and head out to the world.

Not always easy.

Many times it’s the opposite of what your mind wants,
as we do have many conflicting desires.

And there will be resistance to overcome.
And to overcome that, your best weapon is…

5. Motivation.

There’s no motivation, fake motivation, low motivation, strong motivation…
some of them might be enough to climb some mountains.

But the bigger the challenge, the stronger the motivation you’ll need.

And sometimes, to be honest, we think we want a change,
but we don’t really want it, or don’t want it enough.

So if a big change means being confronted with your fear of the unknown and
with fear of pain, and going out of your comfort zone?

ou’re likely to need a strong motivation to start your journey,
and an even stronger one to continue it.

More significant changes many times mean a longer journey,
with more pitfalls along the way too.

Such motivation can come from love.

For example, doing something that is very hard or demanding of you,
because of love to a person, an animal, yourself, or god.

Some people even gave their lives out of love - for example, to save someone else. 

Another source of strong motivation, though, is pain, or suffering.

If something is painful enough, if it causes you enough suffering and distress,
you might just have enough motivation to finally do something about it -
in spite of the fears, the worries, and the discomfort.

In other words: 

"No one wants to wake up from a good dream.
It’s the nightmares that make us want to wake up, to make a change.

The good dreams make us want to stay in bed.
The nightmares motivate us."

- Eldad Ben-Moshe

The bigger the change, or more to the point -
the bigger the perceived price of making the change -
the bigger the pain that we will need to make it.

Yes, there are great systems that can help grow and change,
and I personally work with some fantastic tools in my personal life from 2003.

I also use them to help my clients as a coach and as a teacher.

A Course in Miracles, the Enneagram, B-AIR, meditation, mindfulness…
they’re all truly amazing and life-changing.

They all really did change my life, which is why I keep working with them and teach them.
But they all require some level of motivation.

Without that, you would just stay on the couch, you’ll never even leave your bed.

And that is how pain can be our great teacher and friend.

It can motivate us to make those changes that will make our lives so much better.

Still, we will have to choose to ‘go for it.’
But the stronger our motivation is, the easier the choice becomes.

So no, we do not have to suffer to grow, to make a positive change in our lives.
But many times we need to.


6. The spiritual point of view.

Once you understand that
pain can be very helpful in working through your “stuff,”  
you can use it to work through your attachment and identification with your body and personality. 

Almost all traditions, or perhaps all of them, teach us that we’re not the body or the personality,
and guide us to know our true Self.

In that sense, pain is like the cleansing fire.

And at some point on your spiritual journey, you might find yourself wanting the fire,
wanting to burn through your attachments and false identifications.

Therefore, you might end up in situations that from the outside might seem like suffering,
but with a certain mindset, you'll not be suffering as you go through them.

Another thing to note is that 
Spiritually speaking,
painful experiences might be there for us to learn something.

Many times, they come because we didn't learn that lesson earlier,
through less painful instances.

Therefore, life is speaking to you now in a louder volume.

That, too, is a way to understand that you do not have to suffer to grow.


7. Practical Actionable Steps - From Information to Transformation:

Check yourself: 

What changes, big or small, do you want in your life?
Ideally, make a list using a pen and paper, but your phone or laptop will do as well.

Choose one change you want most and see -

1. What will it take to do it?
2. Why didn't you do it yet?
3. What are your fears?
4. What is your motivation?
5. Maybe it’s just not important enough for you?

Do that until you hit a change that is important enough for you, and you feel excited to make,
and then get out of your head and your comfort zone by taking action. 

It might be a journey, or a quick win, depending on the change you chose. 

You might decide to do it alone, or ask for help.

But no one is going to do it for you, that’s for sure.
And you won’t make it if you don’t even start.


Final note: You can do this! 


Choose the thing(s) that inspire you the most. 

Don’t over-do it, keep it simple and joyful.

Take one baby step at a time. 


Remember -


  • Implement.
  • Baby steps.
  • Joyfully.


Done is better than perfect.


To your better life,
with tons of 💖


Eldad Ben-Moshe
Founder, Teacher, and Coach
Better Life Awareness Center