Week 2: We Are Suffering, and We Don't Have To

WEEK 2: We are Suffering, and We Don’t Have To

Melody Beattie says, “Whatever we try to control has control over us and our life.”

If we are honest, we might see that we become artists to free ourselves from the control of a life we do not want, and yet we end up controlling every inch of the artistic process and then wondering why it doesn't feel any better.

We try to control our work, how it is perceived. We control our auditions. We control our own process; only letting ourselves go so far, so that we can control the level of hurt and disappointment we feel. We sometimes don’t tell people we love when we have an audition, trying to control their response if the outcome is not favorable. Or we try to control others seeing us as “working” or “being good” by posting and exaggerating our successes.

We are control freaks.

But art is so out of control. A painter would never put a brush on a canvas if he were worried about controlling the outcome or the expression. A scene where every beat is measured is boring. A song without moment and tension and resonance can’t take us anywhere. It all has to be a great act of free fall. If we control it, it alludes us. If we control it, it is ruining the very impulses and instinct of our genius.

Much of what we attempt to control in this business is our suffering. We want to control our heartache and disappointments so we often hover above our dreams, pretending to be living them while really trying to keep ourselves a little bit safe. If we only fall a little, then the pain of the fall will only be a little. We think we can control the suffering when it comes (and `we always project that it is inevitably coming) and begin planning for it.

Has it ever really worked for you? Imagine you were going to assume and plan for the disaster of a break up. Imagine you are going to wall off your heart, just in case it ends. Imagine you are going to not let yourself in the moment experience the joy and love of the thing in case it leaves later on. Imagine the relationship does end. Does it actually hurt any less? Or do you feel not only the deep grief of its ending but also the discouragement of having lived into your biggest fear manifest and to top it all off — your preparation for its ending caused you to be in suffering THE WHOLE TIME, not just at its completion.

By controlling our suffering we actually create more of it!!!!!

We are not meant to control and keep ourselves or art safe. Osho says, “the higher the expression of anything becomes weaker. The roots are very strong, but the flower cannot be strong. Its beauty is because of its not being strong. In the morning it opens its petals to welcome the sun, dances the whole day in the wind, in the rain, and in the sun and by evening its petals have started falling; it is gone.”

So let’s take a breath. Right now. Just inhale and let it fill you. And let it go. Don’t hold onto that breath or try to control it. Just let it pass so the next one can come. Repeat. You are okay. You don’t have to control how uncomfortable this conversation may even make you.

Rob Bell in his book How to Be Here talks about suffering and control. He says that suffering, especially unexpected suffering is PART OF LIFE and it is unavoidable. It is not about protecting ourselves from bad things happening, but what we do in the face of those “bad” things that make us powerful.

“How we respond to what happens to us — especially the painful, excruciating things that we never wanted and we have no control over — is a creative act.”


Suffering, life, disappointment happen to EVERYONE. It is unavoidable. What we do with it, how we perceive it, how we channel that energy is what makes us creators. It is our point of power.

So let’s stop using all our energy and muscle trying to prevent the bad. Trying to control life. Let us invest that same energy into coming up with creative solutions and perspectives on what occurs. This way we are ALWAYS safe. We don’t need protection. We only need our creativity and imagination. We are okay.

Rob suggests that to claim our power back we simply must ask a new and powerful question: what new and good thing is going to come from even this?

What new and good thing is going to come from being dropped by that agent? What new and good thing is going to come from not getting that role?
What new and good thing is going to come from being short my rent this month?

Now your job is to LOOK.
You have to look for evidence to your question.

Does getting dropped from the agent lead you to find something more congruent for you?
Does not getting the job free up your time for something you have always wanted? Does being short money get you into more creative thinking on how to make more money in a different way next month?

“When you have asked the question, you have taken something that was out of your control and reframed it as another opportunity to take part in the ongoing creation of the world.” Rob Bell

When suffering occurs, let’s grieve it. Let’s be angry and hurt and sad and scared. Let’s feel all of it. Then let us ask the question.

What NEW and GOOD thing is going to come out of even this? Natalie 

Jen Rudolph