Misdirected Suffering

Buddha statue in a temple being restored in Luang Prabang, Laos
Buddha statue in a temple being restored in Luang Prabang, Laos

My husband and I were discussing someone and he used an expression which I thought was very cogent: “He is misdirecting his suffering.” How well that explains many people’s behaviour!

People suffer, but instead of dealing with the true cause of their suffering, they strike out at other people, or blame someone else for their pain or don’t perceive the real problem or cause. They may take on burdens unrelated to their unhappiness, compounding and complexifying their life yet more. They may make someone else miserable to keep them company in their own suffering. They may sabotage themselves and behave illogically, counter to their own best interests or counter to common sense. All because they are misdirecting their suffering. Road rage is a perfect everyday example of someone misdirecting their suffering.

Gold leaf on a Buddha's palm in Laos
Gold leaf on a Buddha’s palm in Laos

The first of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism is dukkha (suffering). Dukkha is also one of the 3 Characteristics of Existence. We are all united in the fact that suffering is a part of living.

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