Suffering Is Optional

This statement is how I have started most of my workshops and presentations.  I ask who is in my audience, tell folks where the bathrooms are, and remind people that if they want (or need) to excuse themselves at any point to do so….I remind them that suffering is optional.  I do this because I talk about topics such as suicide, trauma, and self-injury.  These are topics can be difficult as they resonate personally for so many of us.

I also remind folks that if they do leave the room to give someone at their table a nod or a thumbs up so that we know that they are okay.  Although most of the time people do not leave, I have always felt inspired by folks taking care of other folks during these talks.

I know that it is easy to orchestrate this kind of self-care at the beginning of a workshop, but I think it is important to be intentional about this idea in our every day.  Suffering is optional.

I think this is important because the statement reminds me that I have choice while also encouraging me to ask for what I need.


Through trauma we don’t feel like we have choice because we don’t.  No one bothered to ask me what I wanted or what I needed.  Recognizing that I have choice as I heal from trauma helps keep me from falling backwards.


The “ask” is critical because our feelings matter even if trauma tells us otherwise.  Asking for what we need includes having boundaries and gives us permission to say no, to leave the room, take a breath, or talk to someone who cares about our experience.

Suffering is optional but this only comes to us when time has given us distance from our traumas.  Suffering is optional for those who are resilient and truly believe they have choice and can ask for what they need.

What do you believe?

Speak Your Mind


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