Struggle and Emotional Stress.
‘Why’ it exists, and ‘How’ to reduce or eliminate it?
People often ask me how it is I write about divergent (and according to many; oppositional) topics such as sex and spirituality. The answer is quite simple.
First, both topics are integral parts of who we (each of us) are. Both crisscross our ‘being’ physiologically and psychologically while influencing and impacting each of our lives.
More importantly though the focus of my writing, be it through fictional short stories of poetics, the search for a spiritual connection, revealing sexual expositions, or self-help/self-improvement subject matters of my nonfiction works, all exist on a platform to express the possibilities of reducing one’s struggle; within self and from the effects (or fallout) from the people and events we experience in daily life.
There exists a commonality of ‘life themes’ as it were, which we all encounter during our lives. These ‘lessons’ of life are both the catalysts and the outcomes of our choices. There are a finite number of emotions to be birthed, but the manifestations of our actions through which these emotions may be encountered or experienced are as varied as our decisions in terms of their timing and intensity. Think of it this way, with every choice we make we are responding to one or more, five motivators; Love, Want, Need, Status, or, Fear of Loss. These are the emotional ‘sparks’ for every decision we make. One or more of these five must be fulfilled (or attempted to be fulfilled) through and by our actions. We never simply decide to do something without a motivation of measurable effect. These five represent the innate core of our desires.
The fundamental teaching of Buddhism centers and revolves around the concept of ‘suffering’. Suffering is the one constant of human life regardless of all potential influences. The degrees of suffering may vary widely, but ‘no one gets out alive’ and along the path there exists and is experienced; suffering. Suffering is the fallout or result of our struggles, which are manifested from the choice or decision precursors within the emotional motivators described above. The other three major religions of contemporary life; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (all being foundationally ‘Abrahamic’) offer a remedy for suffering through a ’savior’; one who is yet to come, one who is, and one who came and is coming again.
Whether we believe or adhere to one of these or not, suffering in this human life is universal for mankind has yet to fully understand and embrace that our existence is dependent and co-dependent on us working together as a community of men and women to solve and resolve the issues we produce and face as a species. Cooperative resolution we have never been able to do willingly. Our very existence is defined by our differences as well as our independence and the interdependence of those differences. Taken into account the individual, his or her emotions as related to life’s five motivators, his or her interdependent community of scale, and the ingrained inherited biases of families within communities and only an end to life as we know it will succeed in a cessation of these emotionally rooted differences.
Differences, hand-in-hand with technology, is what ‘makes the world go round’ and keeps civilizations moving forward. In the universe there is always a balance, so too it is with life on this small planet. The pangs of birth are counterbalanced by the scope and structure of successive progress.
Do we have pain and suffering? Yes.
We will always? Yes.
Why? It is in our nature to strive for success and survival. In doing so we produce manifested actions that result in our differences by choice and decision. That’s a global view, but what about you and me? What about each of us in our individual lives. In lives where we only have effective control over how we will respond to the events and people we come into contact with on a daily basis. In our small ‘sphere of influence’ that we identify as ‘our life’ how can we reduce the daily struggles within those lives? This is the focus of my works for the reader. Again, whether it is through short stories of interest and identity, or the search for a more spiritual connection, or topics of sexuality, or self-acknowledgement and self-improvement, the goal is to clarify and then reduce the struggles associated with the decision making process by and for the individual reader. In this vein and to this end my works are not autobiographical. That is, they are not about me and my journey. I write about the commonalities of our human condition that each reader can identify with in his or her own life.
We have all know pain and suffering. What we often don’t realize or admit is how much of our suffering, especially as adults, can be eliminated or ‘side-stepped’ all together. The questions as always becomes ‘Why and How?’ Although the answers are relatively easy to address, the ‘Why’ is more easily understood than the ‘How’ is achieved. ‘Why’ we encounter adversity, which is then manifested as pain and suffering, is the precursor directly related to our choices and decisions. We have the power (in most instances within a free society) to decide. We have a choice as to what our responses will be. By experience or (often) upbringing we know innately one or more possible outcomes of our action’s choice. We know any ‘suffering’ caused or experienced by our previous decisions in similar situations. “Why did I choose that response and what were its consequences?” (Joy, elation, peace, or pain and suffering?) The ‘Why’ question is both prompted and answered by our expectations of a specific result. The ‘How’ is more complex.
Understanding the ‘Why’ (the expected or anticipated outcome) of our decision(s) we are better prepared to tackle the ‘How’ of actually reducing or eliminating struggle from our lives.
At this point it is important we remember that ‘pain and suffering’ are generally encapsulated in the emotional stress and discomfort associated with the manifestations of the reality outcomes of our actions by choice and decision. The ‘Why’ determines our action of choice, the ‘How’ is its implementation, which then will result in the outcomes we generate as response. Ultimately this process either contributes to additional struggle and stress, or it puts on a path of reduction and possible elimination of said struggle and stress. The difference is in ‘How’ we cope with and/or adjust each future decision making process in light of the outcomes we now experience. Are we growing and moving forward? (Less stress and fewer struggles) Or, merely repeating past behaviors and choices? (Exacerbating our emotional issues while hoping for new or different outcomes.)
So ‘How’ do we reduce and/or eliminate struggle in our daily lives? First, by making better choices. More informed decisions based on our past experiences and their associated outcomes. It’s been said, “Experience is the best teacher” but only if we have actually learned from the experience. By ‘learning’ have we assimilated enough outcome information and emotional fortitude to make a better or more positive choice or decision in any and every future similar situations? By NOT repeating behaviors and choices which we know from our own prior activities will (most likely) result in negative, harmful, or hurtful outcomes or results. First comes the choice, then comes the action, then comes the result.
We know the ‘Why’; our expectation. We know the ‘How’; our choice and action equals results. The difference between a positive or negative outcome either dissipates or exacerbates our struggle and therefore its associated emotional stress. Make positive choices in future situations based on prior firsthand knowledge of previous outcomes. When we do this throughout life, in each of the corresponding ‘lessons’ life throws at us, with each succeeding step or lesson, we will avoid the negative by accepting and adjusting to the positive known results.
It sounds easy, it seems hard, but in actuality it is easier than we think. It’s an exercise in mental gymnastics prior to taking action. Recall and remembrance tempered with a dose of new possible reality puts us in charge of deciding and choosing. It is our choice and responsibility to choose more wisely than we might have in the past. Did our prior choice result in pain and suffering, heartache or heartbreak, costly or divisive ramifications? Do we want to experience those outcomes and results again? Or do we desire a different, more positive result of our pending decision?
When we know and understand the ‘Why’ we are better prepared to implement and accept the ‘How’. With those two in combination the process will result in fewer struggles and less emotional stress, and the more often we apply this systematic process the more profoundly simple life becomes in avoiding struggle.
Readers will find opportunities for reflective identity surrounding issues and emotions often experienced, but not always voiced in my writings. Each story, topic, subject or emotion described is designed to plant a seed for personal growth or understanding and thereby help reduce or eliminate struggle in the reader’s life.
I invite you to make changes in your life today by reducing or eliminating struggle and stress.
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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Please be advised that works by Branch Isole are written for adults, containing adult material and language, some of which is sexual in nature. All works are
intended for mature audiences.