Where does “Be Worthy Of My Sufferings” Come From?
Fyodor Dostoevsky is a Russian Novelist who wrote the quote: “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.”
I came across this epic quote in Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” where Frankl speaks of his experience as a prisoner in a concentration camp.
What is the Meaning of this Quote?
Suffering is Natural and Inevitable
We are all going to face suffering. Pain and suffering are some of the few givens of life. Little worms get eaten alive by birds. Lions die from starvation. So do people.
Pain and suffering are also inherent parts of being a human. The point isn’t that life is all bad. But that suffering is inevitable. There are times where you’ll feel tired, or get ill, or feel depressed. Your loved ones will die. You’ll break up with partners and experience heartache. You’ll feel lost in your career.
We all have dark life periods.
So the question isn’t whether or not you will suffer. It happens to all of us. The question is: how will you show up in the face of your suffering?
What to do In The Face of Suffering
A fulfilling life is one where we live with virtue. Where we act with kindness, speak honestly, move with courage, and remain humble. When we live life with these virtues, we can look back at our life and feel proud.
It’s one thing to pursue a life of virtue when things are going your way. It’s important to always be kind. But it’s pretty easy to be kind when you feel good, and you got the new job, and it’s a sunny, peaceful day. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to be kind when your dog is sick and you’re behind on the bills.
If you are in a period of fear, depression, uncertainty, anxiety, illness, lostness, or any other kind of pain, you still have the choice of how you show up.
Some people experience a tough life patch, and they let their suffering beat them into the ground and cause them to become weak and cynical. They use their suffering as an excuse to give up hope and give less of themself to the world.
These people are not worthy of their suffering.
It is easy to be virtuous when life is easy. But when life is hard, that is the real test. That is when you have the opportunity to really prove something to yourself. To show up with courage and compassion amidst a pandemic – that is something noble; something worth being proud of.
Difficult life periods are a gift, because they are an opportunity to evolve to the next level. To be someone you respect when it’s not easy to do so.
It’s just like how sports athletes welcome a tough opponent, because it will bring the best out of them. So too can you welcome your biggest sufferings when they show up.
Being Worthy of Sufferings Creates Meaning
We will all face suffering. Every single day. What if you didn’t try to run from it, but viewed it as a gift, an opportunity to become stronger and an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can show up as a warrior of virtue no matter what the circumstance?
Showing up to life with virtue will give you meaning. Showing up with virtue when it’s really fucking hard to do so will give you even more meaning.
Life hurts. The higher the bar of hurt, the more strength you will have to find within yourself to show up with integrity. If you are facing suffering, can you use it as a call to step even more fully into yourself and show up for the day?
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