Self-inducing our Suffering

Self-Inducing Suffering

As I sit here in a Chick-fil-a watching my son play, trying to think of an amazing example for this blog post. My mind races, I think about using some examples from Joseph Nguyen, or Naomi Carr. I try to blend the thoughts together and make sense of it all. I feel anger towards my son screaming because I keep getting distracted and my mind keeps going to his screams. After a few minutes of fighting with myself, my body tells me, through neck pain, you’re stressing yourself out. That’s when I realized I was self-inducing my suffering. After which, I used the technique I will go over later. Thus, this intro was born.

What is Suffering

What is suffering? The meaning has been the same for years, but the reason has changed over time and is based on who you talk to. Suffering is a state of hardship, distress, and/or pain. Suffering comes in many different forces and factors. Today we are talking about mental self-inducing (Emotional and Spiritual) suffering and where it comes from. I’m going to give you some stories and then we will take them apart to fully explain self-inducing suffering.

The Well

Imagine you are walking in the woods, and you see a well. It’s super old-looking and has a light coming from deep within it. Now imagine, you have a rope. The well is a little over 3 feet wide. Just big enough to scale down using your rope, but not big enough to hop down with the rope. It’s going to be a rough task to get to the bottom of that well and see what’s shiny.

So, at this point, you can either acknowledge the well is there with Shiny and walk away, or you can use your rope to scale down. Let’s say you choose to scale down the well. You throw your rope in and climb in. As you move downward into the well, the light at the bottom seems farther away. Your mind notices the moss on the walls and a slight smell of mildew. As you scale down the well with your rope, you notice your hands start hurting. It’s now been 30 minutes and you start feeling this sense of dread. This well is impossibly deep. Your arms are worn out and your shoes feel slimy.

Another 30 minutes go by scaling down this well. Now your neck is throbbing. Your body is yelling at you. This is by far the hardest workout you have had in a while. At this point, you give up and start scaling back up the rope. Gravity pulls down upon you. Your body feels like a million pounds. It takes twice as long to scale out of the well than to scale the well. Once you are out of the well, you are free to stumble away defeated and tired.

Thoughts vs Thinking

The well is our thoughts. They come and go. Most of the time, if our lives are balanced, our thoughts are natural, non-hurtful, and strangely right on target. While in a balanced state, your thoughts will not tell you to hurt yourself. Instead, they are beautiful. The idea of the well was a thought. My thinking brought it to life. As you were walking down the path of life, you had a thought, the well. Thinking is the act of going down the well. Some people like to take it slowly, some people like to dive into it.

While going down the well, at first, everything is fine. Your mind is in a place of helpfulness and peace. Then our human nature steps in. Only in the past 300 – 500 years have we not had to worry about things like the hidden panther in the shadows. For an extremely long time, we humans have had to develop a sense of danger. We developed a way to see the negatives in perfectly normal events. This has kept us alive and pushed humanity forward. It pushed us out of the physical fear stage of our growth. We are now in the thinking stage of our race’s growth.

After scaling down the well for a while, our bodies (minds) become tired. Our nature is to protect ourselves. Thus we start looking for harmful things. We start hunting for the panther in the shadows. However, this translates to negative thinking after a while.


What is your favorite ice cream? Mine is blue bell Dutch chocolate. I love it. I love it super cold and it melts on my tongue. Let’s think about your favorite ice cream in detail. Think about the color, the taste, the branding, the carton it comes in. Don’t stop, keep the thinking going. At the first sign of a negative thought or emotion, stop. How long did it take? Took me 2 minutes. I don’t like the ox and trailer because it reminds me of dying in the Organ Trail game. If I keep thinking my mind makes a connection to the color and dysentery (common death in the game). Now I don’t want the ice cream. Even though it’s my favorite.

Now return your mind back to your thinking. Notice, it’s no longer helpful, it’s now negative. Your mind is no longer balanced. At least this is how my mind and many others are. This is the core of the self-inducing of our suffering. Just like the well, you have to climb out of the negativity.

How to climb out of the well

Climbing out the well is harder than getting into it. Same way with our negative thinking. Imagine a fire. Every negative thought is a stick you have placed into that fire. How would you put the fire out in real life? There are a few ways, depending on the tools you have.

Letting it burn out

Our first method is letting the fire burn itself out. Not adding any additional stress or negativity that flame will burn out. Men do this often with our nothing box. Ever walk in and see your dad with his jaw slightly open dead-faced at the wall? That’s right, he has nothing in his head. That flame has nothing to feed on. It’s going to go out all on its own.

The spray bottle.

The spray bottles are coping skills. You can take it two different ways, you can spray the fire itself or you can pull each stick out and spray it down. Things like art, hiking, swimming, and listening to music are like spraying the fire itself. While cognitive therapy is like taking the sticks out and putting each stick’s fire out. This way works if you want to keep those thoughts for later usage. However, it will burn you. The goal isn’t to cause more self-inducing suffering but instead to break free from it.


The dirt is my most powerful weapon. Growing up, we always dug a small hole for our campfire. the hole was about half a foot deep, nothing too great or grand. Just enough for the fire to live. When we were ready to put the fire out, we through the dirt onto the fire. The first splash of dirt, put some out, the second and third tended to put the rest out.

So, what is dirt in the mindscape? Let’s look at the human mind real fast. The average person either hears a voice in their head or watches a movie. Most are somewhere in between. I personally have a movie playing with a loud narrator in the background. The first type of dirt is the shut-up brain. For the narrated-brained people do this:

As your mind, “what is your next thought?”

Magic just happened. No thoughts, no thinking, nothingness for a few seconds. It’s magic. When I discovered this, I had the perfect shut-up brain. However, it didn’t stop my mind from showing me negative images. For us movie types do the following.

Stop moving your eyes

The human mind needs you to move your eyes in order for you to imagine something. This happens even with blind people. It’s amazing how the eyes are attached to imagination and thinking. I am aware there are other levels of thinking as well. Some people think in sensations. Focusing on the weight of your hands helps, but there is no dirt that I am aware of for sensation thinkers.

Climbing Out Using Dirt

I love playing Minecraft. To get super high in the game, you can take dirt and put it under you. If you keep shutting off the thinking processes, the thought process can restart. However, human nature requires us to keep up. We have to keep going. We have to repeat the process over and over again. You can put the dirt under you until you are free from the well. Or keep shoveling dirt on that fire until you are free of the heat. Climbing out with the dirt is just the opposite of self-inducing suffering. You choose of your free will to fight.

The firefighters

The final method is the Firefighters of life. To get a real firefighter, you have to dial 911. Firefighters in this situation are trusted people who can break the cycle and help you out of the well of thinking. Having people in your life you can trust is critical. Having someone who will call you out on your bs, is even more critical. They can grab that rope and pull you up. They can come in with the fire hose and blast the fire. This person is there to help.

Recognizing Your Thinking

The hardest part of this process is recognizing your own thinking, self-inducing suffering. I will save this part for another day as it is a much larger concept that deserves it’s own post.

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