Letter: “You are your own suffering”

Byron Katie’s words suddenly make perfect sense! What a gift to be able to actually ‘feel’ this ‘simple’ sentence!

I’ve recently been shown just how true this statement is! I just wanted to share what came up for me around this. It’s been an amazing realization for me—not just shown to me once, but over and over, until the lesson was learned and the message heard! Yep! got it! loud and clear!

I was recently rushed into hospital following a major surgical procedure. I’d contacted septicaemia and pneumonia quite severely afterwards and was very ill. I had to have two further surgeries to ‘save my life.’ I was admitted to Critical Care, where I was in a small coma for just under five days—‘being breathed’ and such like by machines.

The thing that has hit me with a huge impact since, is that whilst I was ‘unconscious’, I had no pain, no thoughts, no images, no past, present, or future, no stories, no attachments, no judgments, no love, no hate, no business, no logical awareness of what was going on around me, happening to me, how it was affecting my loved ones, no fear, and so on, therefore, no suffering! Just pure peace! Bliss! Rest! Calmness! Just being! Not one stressful thought that I can remember in any way shape or form.

It was only as I started to come round back to the ‘land of living’ that my suffering started!

My mind kicked in the second I opened my eyes (or so it seemed) and the thoughts, images, stories and fears started to take over.

It was at this point that my peace went out of the window and my suffering started. I began forming all kinds of stories once I saw the machines I was attached to, the drips, the needles, the blood, dressings, etc. Pure panic kicked in and my mind went into overdrive. I had no idea where I was, or why, and yet, I’d developed a whole story in my mind. K Magnified several times over. Shock. Confusion. Disbelief. Denial. Insanity!

It was painful to let it all out and it was painful to keep it all in!

Then, I saw the blood I was having via a transfusion! That was it! Fear kicked in and the mind stated all over again, like a broken record. I started trying to make sense of things, piece things together, and understand what was happening. My head was like a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, and yet, I still didn’t know what had happened. I had nothing to base any of my thoughts, presumptions, or theories on. No proof. No memory. No evidence. No knowledge. Just my own stories keeping me in my own prison.

What was this constant need all of a sudden to understand everything? I’d never really paid much attention to my body before, and yet now, it’s all I could think about! It’s almost like I HAD to focus on something—there HAD to be a reason for it to be ok! Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain and torment? ME!!!!

What was even more remarkable, is that I hadn’t had any physical pain, until the doctor explained to me what had happened. It was then that I suddenly started ‘feeling pain’ in the effected area and was plagued by it. It became hard not to focus on it, and yet, it had been that way for days. Nothing had changed: just my thoughts and attachments!

It’s since made me stop and think—was it that I could feel the actual physical pain in my body? Or, was it that I was attaching to the story of what had happened to me that made me aware of the pain? Nothing had changed (physically) from the time I was in a coma to the time I had opened my eyes, and yet, mentally, all hell had broke loose. The wound was in the same state. The dressings were the same, etc. Nothing new… just that I was now awake and ‘processing’ all around me.

I’d gone from being comfortable and rested, totally oblivious, to all of this, with the opening of my eyes, and the instant attachment to my thoughts in those surroundings. Would the outcome be the same if I’d woken up on a tropical island somewhere? I cannot know that, and it’s doubtful. Fascinating!

Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain & torment? ME!!!!

Again it happened when the time came to change my dressing. I’d only heard about my surgery, what was done, how it looked, and what to expect. It would seem that I’d chosen to ‘ignore’ all of this information and detail, on the basis that: a) It didn’t suit me at the time; b) I was too wrapped up in my own images and stories; c) I’d had no visual stimuli / trigger and d) I was so out of my business (amongst other things!).

Then, when it was uncovered and I actually saw it for myself I was beyond shocked. I couldn’t speak. It was ‘worse’ than what my mind had allowed me to visualise. Or, at least, that was my story!

Again, the stories came flooding in—supported now by images. I was in the past, in the future—trying to fight reality once again. I made instant judgments. I focused on my body and how ‘ugly’ and ‘disfigured’ it was. How ‘damaged’ it was. How I’d never be the same. How it had ruined my life. Endless thoughts of suffering—which, I’d not had when the wound was hidden!

Who was causing my suffering? ME! Everything else was just doing its own thing blissfully as it should, minding its own business, and yet, I couldn’t seem to do the same. While I was ‘out of it’, ‘unaware’, I was silently fighting some how without even knowing—with no stories, no pressure, no expectations, no motives. Once I became ‘aware’, I’d started to do the opposite, putting my body through even more turmoil, thinking I had some kind of control some how. Remarkable!

Several days later, I learned that my nan had been told to ‘prepare for the worst’ and that the medics ‘didn’t hold out much hope with my chances of survival.’

Again, it was only when I heard this story that my suffering started. My mind bypassed the information I had just heard and I went straight into feeling guilty. I blamed myself for putting her through all of that (like I had a choice!). I pictured her being ill from the stress of it all and so on. Mind overload! It became unbearable once again!

Previous to knowing this piece of information, I was oblivious. I didn’t have any of those thoughts. I wasn’t even headed in that direction. It wasn’t an option. It’s amazing.

Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain & torment? ME!!!!

There was much more too. But, all in all, my main point throughout is based on Katie’s sentence:

‘You are your own suffering.’

The words keep ringing through my mind. I’ve heard this many times since doing The Work, and never really fully paid much attention to it. I was convinced that it couldn’t be true. That it was others who almost certainly caused my suffering. I was in true victim mode. How could I possibly cause my own suffering? It was other people’s actions / words that hurt me. How could I possibly be my own suffering, when all I was doing was trying to find peace, a ‘solution,’ a ‘way out’? And so on.

Now, this sentence alone holds a whole new meaning for me, and I FEEL it.

‘You are your own suffering!’

This has certainly been true in my experience and, it is only now, after my recent journey, that I can digest those words and really embrace them. I love the peace that I’ve found around this and that I can share it with others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long realization & be a part of my journey.

Jai Jai xoxoxoxo

* * * * *

Dearest Jai Jai,

I am grateful that you shared your experience with us and so very grateful for your journey to love in this world. Your peace is my/our teacher.

Always, always,

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  1. Thank you Jai Jai for your story. I truly hope you are doing better now both physically & mentally. I happened on your words when I was desperately searching for some help for what I believe to be a very scarey & painful procedure I am told I need to have after having gone through many other procedures up to this point. I just want to throw in the towel & take my chances on my own & leave the doctors, hospitals & clinics behind. I am frightened out of my wits. Your words are helping me to realize that I am creating suffering for myself right now in my head & maybe I have other choices even if I don’t know what they are right now.

  2. Jai Jai,
    Your words hit close to home for me and I thank you for sharing.
    May you continue to not only find physical well being, but peace of mind and soul throughout your journey!

  3. Hi Jai Jai, thankyou so much for sharing your experience and awareness of how suffering is caused by our uncontrolled thoughts, I am sure this will help many people to take control of their mental horror movies and reduce the suffering in many aspects of their lives. Love and light Kathy


  5. H jai jai

    Thank you for sharing your experience ! I have just tonight started reading about The Work and feel I was meant to read your story . I had a traumatic child birth 2yrs ago ; we were both perfectly fine overall afterwards but now and through your story I realise I too created my own suffering during this experience ; after a long bearable labor everything changed i was rushed to surgery , baby was OB , I was not numb enough for section , doctors shouting , each time I woke up after brief continuous fainting I feared the worst ; I seen all the machines , untensils , 14 staff/doctors I heard , my mind was racing with negative thoughts I told myself one of us would not survive . I surprised myself by finding strength from within ; I said a prayer in my head , I asked the nurse to keep slapping my face (she did !) To keep me awake so I could push and I focused completely on that . Then when I was aware of my surroundings again I told myself all sorts .Thankfully the reality was that we were both fine throughout ; yes it was very tramantic for my husband and me & doctors were called to help but that was just extra caution . After childbirth I feel I missed out on the first moments with my daughter as I was still telling myself it was not okay . Months later I realised my trauma turned into postpartum anxiety ocd ; through being aware of this info I started to gradually get better which has led me to The Work and your story . I know now that it was not my labour that caused anxiety but that I have always had these thoughts since I was quite young and look forward to working on myself through The Work . Thank you for sharing your story jai jai and helping with my healing and realisations

  6. What an amazing realization. You are so right, when we are physically ‘unconscious’ we feel no suffering because we are making a ‘story’. We are completely without judgement and completely at peace. So that really is it. Stay out of judgement and you remove the suffering. What a lesson….what a metaphor.
    Thank you.

  7. I too have just recently seen the truth “that we are our own suffering”. I have discovered that loving what is, no matter what form it takes, is pure bliss. …heaven. Wanting or wishing things were different is unhappiness….hell.

  8. I just looked into this web page – not my thing really, but might add a smile to the above as I love the quiet humour dished out with B Katie’s uncompromising but wise words….
    A few years back I had been going through a tedious time. It is my personal conviction is that there is a very strong connection between mind, body systems and emotion , and I was embarked on a somewhat protracted journey to allow my very swollen very painful knees to right themselves – if only I could get my convoluted thoughts to take a back seat. One evening, although convinced I was on the right track, I sighed in exasperation and “asked the gods” to just give me SOME clue to encourage me to persevere. I turned on the evening international news ( I was in NSW Australia) and I heard the newsreader say: “A Sydney taxi-driver purchased a race horse with dodgy knees and it has just won the Grand National” 🙂 I’m walking in great style now, but we have to walk our talk! I now practice turning everything around. It is such a relief to move from “it shouldn’t” to “it should because it has” Thank you for continuing to assist us turn around our self-inflicting fearful thoughts ! And as Robert says – better late then never, I’m 72 ( or my dusty old Birth Cert is)

  9. Katie, I’m dealing with the memories of a loving man who was very affected by alcohol and seeing how I placed the need for change completely on his shoulders and moved apart from him to self-protect. I hear you working it out with your own experiences. I can’t seem to reach the place of peace you have obviously come to. Suggestions please.

  10. In a dark place once again. People do say hurtful things one works things out. Then another arrow to the heart. Continuous emotional pain. Which has caused chronic pain. DO not really understand the work. Surely if someone is causing emotional pain how can u turn it around.

  11. Wow, thanks so much for sharing and revisiting your experience. It reminds me that in every moment we have choice about our thoughts and responses. But also to be kind to ourselves when we ‘slip’ into old patterns. I love it that I’m ‘my own worst enemy’ because I can do something about it and ‘be my own best friend. ‘ Huge hug.

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