SAS #011: Type 1 Suffering vs. Type 2 Suffering

How to Suffer as Little as Possible

Read time: 2 min 15 sec

I was in agony.

The person I was about to meet was a world-class, industry leader and I was running late.

I didn’t know what was going to happen.

It felt like our partnership might fall apart.

When I joined the meeting I was short of breath and my hands were sweating.

^ There are 2 layers to this experience.

One is the truth. I was going to be a few minutes late.

The other is what I layered on top.

“I’m stupid for being late. They are going to be pissed. I’m going to ruin this relationship for no good reason.”

Guess which layer caused 95% of my agony.

And what do you think really happened?

At the start of the meeting I apologized, the other person didn’t care at all, and we had a great conversation.

I’m still close with them to this day.

So why did this happen?

I call this Type 1 Suffering vs. Type 2 Suffering.

Type 1 Suffering is just what happens.

We’re late for a meeting, we lose a job, a relationship ends, someone close to us passes away.

Type 1 Suffering is guaranteed in this life.

These things hurt, just as they are, with no added mental gymnastics.

Type 2 Suffering is how we respond to what happens.

When something painful or bad happens do you crank up the intensity or try to see the situation for what it is?

It’s up to us how much we amplify it.

When Type 1 Suffering gives us an ouch we choose how we respond.

Type 1 Suffering isn’t always bad either.

It can help us understand ourselves better.

It often leads to growth and maturity and can even deepen our sense of purpose in the right conditions.

When I lost someone close to me, it was deeply painful, but it also strengthened my appreciation for so many other people in my life.

Type 2 Suffering is mostly us delaying what we really need to deal with.

The goal is to turn down Type 2 Suffering.

Life throws enough Type 1 Suffering our way.

We will get all the growth and hardship we need from it.

There’s no need to turn up the dial and make things harder.

So, next time things don’t go your way, take a beat, try to see them for how they are, and give yourself enough grace to avoid the wrong type of suffering.

Here are 3 questions to reduce Type 2 Suffering:

  1. Does my reaction match or make sense given the reality of the situation?

  2. What’s the worse that can actually happen and how bad is that really?

  3. Have I experienced something similar before and what was the result?

Chances are things aren’t nearly as bad as you imagined and these questions can help you see things more clearly.

Life has enough challenges.

Stick with Type 1 Suffering.

It’s enough.

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