Suffering is Sacred | Something My Life Coach Didn't Understand


I’ve been thinking a lot about what is sacred to me since leaving the life-coaching world…

If you’re not a part of that world, this might not make a lot of sense to you but if you have been part of it you’ll probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Basically, there’s this weird thing around life coaches where materialism is like the root of everything so many of them teach… but they teach it as if it’s not selfish. (To be clear: there is a difference between being open to receiving goodness in life/overcoming limiting beliefs and having a toxic god-complex.)
It’s taught in the life coaching world that being open to receiving every material thing you’ve ever wanted (and refusing to accept no as an answer) is the path to becoming a more deeply spiritual being.

I have some real beef with this perspective, and I couldn’t explain it before now.

The thing is… suffering is sacred.

It’s a natural part of the human experience. We love deeply, we want always, we get attached. And because nothing is permanent, those attachments lead to frustration and pain. We feel fear of losing things.

Yes, you can become more self-aware, more mindful, more spiritual and decrease your tendency to grow attachments, but ultimately even the greatest and most deeply spiritual leaders in history have become attached and felt loss and grief at some point.

That’s not you sucking at having a good mindset. It’s not a failure. It’s not that you wanted your mom to get sick, your dog to get hurt, to wreck your car. It’s not your fault when bad things outside of your control happen. It’s your fault how you choose to handle them- and that is the end of it. You did NOT create the reality where a loved one died, where someone hurt you, where bad things happened and you felt helpless. You didn’t cause that, regardless of what your life coach says.

Truth: You are a human being. Not the divine force of the universe. (Yes that lives within you, we’re all connected, blah blah, I still am very much about that, but that’s another post. I’m just saying you’re not in complete control.) And that is a GOOD thing. That is a healthy thing.

You’re allowed to delight in the control you don’t have, you’re allowed to have faith in something bigger, be it god, the universe, serendipity, fate, or the simple laws of physics.

This massive crash and burn that has been my 22nd-23rd years around the sun started with this complete loss of something beautiful and powerful inside of myself- the understanding that my healing was strength and beauty and that the way I chose to exist through suffering was worth something.

Instead of teaching that staying soft and kind in a cruel world is a rare and beautiful gem of strength…

The life coaching world taught me that experiencing suffering was a sign of an inadequate abundance mindset. I attracted that suffering into my life because I wanted it on some level.

And you know? Maybe to a point that’s true.

I now own my suffering. I reserve my right to suffer in this life- not because I have a masochistic desire to be in pain, but because I know that the darkest days provide the contrast to see the brighter ones. I know that to love others deeply means to experience the pain of loss in one form or another. As someone who faced mortality from a young age and who spent most of her life best friends with the elderly, I understand that and honor that down to my core.

So… all this to say, I’ve woken back up to an important lesson I’ve learned in life… and I have more respect for my own faith and experience today than I did in the past.

I understand now that my perspective is precious, even if only to me. It’s worth something. It’s unique and powerful to be able to embrace the darkness as well as the light, and to understand that we are not, in fact, 100% in charge of everything that happens in our life. I think that’s a very self-important and boring perspective to take on- as someone who has tried it on myself and quickly hit rock bottom.

As I continue in my healing, I ask that my coaching fam refrain from challenging my mindset or reminding me that suffering is optional.

Optional or not, I would take my darkest days over delusional perfection and faithless disconnect I found in life coaching any day.

A lesson learned.

Jessica PenaComment