Ep #309: Emotional Suffering
I was reading a book recently that asked me to describe the main problem I solve in my work.
My answer: emotional suffering. The goal of my work is to help people understand that we don’t need to have pain about our pain. We don’t need to have thoughts about the pain in our life that make everything more difficult. We can accept the pain that will inevitably come along in life and be more alive for it. We don’t need to suffer.
When we argue with our pain or think that we shouldn’t be feeling it, we suffer. We find all sorts of ways to create unnecessary emotional suffering. But when we’re suffering, we’re not showing up fully for life. We’re robbing ourselves of the life we could have.
In today’s episode, we’re diving deep into emotional suffering and why we create pain around our pain. In our modern lives, we’re called on to evolve in this new way. We don’t need to just survive; we need to thrive. And learning to stop suffering is a huge part of that.
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What You will discover
- Why the core mission of my work is to teach people to stop creating unnecessary emotional suffering.
- How our brains are wired to avoid pain and why we need to overcome this.
- The difference between emotional pain and emotional suffering.
- Why we suffer emotionally when we think thoughts that make life’s pain more painful.
- What we need to remember about the painful experiences that life will inevitably contain.
- How the Model helps us harness the power of our brain and reduce unnecessary suffering.
Get the Full Episode Transcript:download the transcript
You are listening to The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo episode 309.
Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. And now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.
Well hello, my beautiful friends. Today is such a good day. I’m going to tell you all the things. First, have you signed up for How to Be Interesting? This might be my best one-day event that I’ve ever done. This is my business workshop that will help you if you are a business owner, if you work in a business, if you sell, if you are an employee in a business.
I’m going to teach you how to be interesting. And being interesting is very important because only things that are interesting get our attention. I’m going to talk to you about the brain and what interests it and how to make sure to get your people that you want to help interested in you. I can’t wait to teach this content to you.
I have so much to teach in the one day. It’s going to be March 13th, in Plano at the Renaissance Hotel, our favorite hotel, amazing restaurants nearby. Please make sure you go and register and get your room right away. I’m very excited to share this content with you. That’s the first thing.
Okay, the next thing – what should I tell you next – is, today I’m leaving to go to Georgia to watch my son Christian play in his first division one golf tournament. He just recently got an offer to play division one golf, which you know was his dream. It happened. And then, wat happens is, once you’re on the golf team, you have to qualify to be able to be invited to the tournament.
The team includes kids that have been there for four years, kids that have been on the team, kids that are sophomores and juniors and freshmen and seniors, and Christian qualified. His very first qualifying event, he qualified to go, he called to let me know, asked if I wanted to come watch him. I was like, “Absolutely.”
I’m getting on a flight to go see him right now. I have chills because he is truly living his dream. It’s so fun to be able to watch your own child accomplish one of his lifetime dreams. So much fun, you all. And listen, he used that Model on his brain. He got to work. He let his mom coach him.
If you’re in Scholars, you can see a video of me coaching him when he was in a very bad way. He is in a very good way now. He is on top of the world having a wonderful time. I’m super stoked to be going and doing that with him.
What else do I have for you? I think I told you guys, as I’m in the middle of my midlife crisis, that I decided to buy a Porsche. Did I tell you that? The Taycan? I was going to buy it. So, they just came out. They got one that we could test drive, they brought it out to the house for us to test drive.
My husband Chris and I were waiting in the driveway. When he drove up in this car, holy sexiness. I love that they make cars like this, oh my goodness, so it’s a Porsche Taycan Turbo S. And the car is so beautiful. The wheels are so beautiful. It’s so amazing.
And we got in this car and the guy was, like, talking about the car. And I promise you, I had no idea what he was talking about. He was like, “It has this and this and this and this and this and then there’s torque and then this engine and then this thing and then this noise and…” I didn’t know what the guy was talking about.
Then, he takes us on a back road and tells me to put my head back. He’s like, “Make sure your head is on the back of the seat.” And then he accelerated the car, which supposedly went from zero to 60 in, like, a second or two. It was ridiculous. This car goes so fast.
I don’t know why you need a car that goes that fast, especially because my kids tell me that I drive like a grandma and I’m very scared to be in between a wall and a semi-truck. Like, I seriously sweat. I have a very hard time with directions. I always have two hands on the wheel. I’m always looking around myself.
Listen, so, Chris drove the car. I videoed Chris in the car. It’s very sexy. I will make sure that we add that to Behind the Scenes in Scholars so you can see Chris driving this car. Holy hotness.
But here’s what you need to know; I decided not to buy the car. Here’s why. The way I explained it to Chris is I’m like, “I feel like I’m a little girl in my mom’s dress and her high heel shoes.” And even though I’m over the top and I like all the pretty things, I feel like I don’t have the capacity to appreciate this car.
Do you guys know what I mean by that? There is someone probably listening to this who understands and loves cars, who understands the magnificence of this electric Porsche and how fast it can go and what it can do and how the rear wheels turn at the same time the front wheels turn so you can literally just go in a circle, sitting there, and the sport steering wheel. I mean, all the things, all the performance features of it, someone should be in that car who can appreciate that car. And I know my limits on appreciating the car.
Now, would I appreciate that it was pretty and lovely? Yes, but I feel like everything that car has to offer, I can’t give it its due. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I decided not to buy it for that reason. I ordered another Tesla. I did a lease on my Tesla. It’s up, so I just ordered another one.
Now, let me tell you why; I ordered another one because they have a longer range one now and I need a longer range one because we bought ourselves a condo in Austin. And we’re going to be doing some events in Austin and spending some time there doing city things. So, I need a car that can get to me Austin without having to plug it in along the way; new Tesla.
I share a lot of this information with you. It might be very boring for you, but I feel like you need to know what’s happening in my head over here. So, I’m super-excited for the condo. I’m going to be doing some mentoring events at the condo with five people for an eight-hour mentoring session. This is something I’m only going to do this year, and I’m going to be selling those at the How to Be Interesting workshop.
So, if you’re interested in being mentored by me on your business, on your life, on anything, I’ve got some things to say. If you want to be mentored by me in person with a small group of five, make sure you come to How to Be Interesting and sign up there. That will be where you get to sign up.
Okay, I think that’s it. I think that’s all with the news I had to share. Today, we’re going to talk about emotional suffering, which I am not doing much of, as you can tell.
We’ve been laughing, my friends and I, about the midlife crisis that some of us are going through. And my husband is so lovely, kind of holding space and letting me go a little bit crazy and giving me the space that I need to kind of figure out what I want to be when I grow up. He’s used to me. And it’s been really fun actually to kind of try on different options of what can happen in the future.
Oh, and the other thing is, I’m working with my team. Today was Chris’s last day actually on Slack. As you know, Chris is moving on from The Life Coach School. He’s going to go work on some other projects. And I posted a note to him publicly just thanking him for all the things. Thank you isn’t even enough to acknowledge him for everything that he has done for me.
But I will tell you that having someone in your life who believes in you is the most beautiful thing I think anyone can have. I think every business owner should have someone in their life who believes in them.
Chris told me one time when I was having a hard time, he said to me, “The world is just better because you’re in it.” And I think about him saying that to me all of the time. When I feel like I’m not good enough or the world’s not good enough or I’m not adding any value and I’m really struggling, I always think about Chris believing in me.
And so, I know that we built this business because of his belief and my belief in him and his belief in me and our belief in each other. And so, it’s an exciting day for him and for me, but it’s also a very sad day too, to kind of complete that era. I was thinking about how there used to be just three of us busting our ass trying to build this company and now we have this most amazing team that is like making the magic happen. It’s unbelievable, so exciting.
Okay, get on with the show already. Jeez, talk about suffering. Okay, okay, I’m on it, I’m on it. Here’s the thing. I was listening to a book on tape. It was a business book. And it was asking the question; what is the main problem that you solve?
If you’re a company, you have to know what the problem is you solve. And it wouldn’t even have to be company. Just being a coach, what is it that you’re offering to your clients? And I would say, if I had to put it into one word, which is what this book asked me to do – I couldn’t put it into one. I put it into two words – it would be emotional suffering.
I feel like my work solves for emotional suffering, unnecessary emotional suffering. And I think it’s the most important work in the world. I think my approach to it is the most effective approach. And the tools that we have at The Life Coach School and the approaches that we have are very unique. And I think they’re the best. And so, when I answered this question on this book, I thought, “I want to talk about that on the podcast.”
I want to talk about how that’s such a universal problem that needs to be solved. I just finished some of the work that I’m doing in Scholars on this and one of the things that I wanted to talk about with all of my Scholars students is the idea of emotional suffering and how much it wears us down and zaps our energy and robs us of the lives that we could have.
Now, we have to start with the question, what is suffering? Because I don’t want there to be any confusion that I’m talking about eliminating pain. I’m not talking about eliminating emotional pain. I’m talking about eliminating emotional suffering. And there’s a huge difference.
And, in fact, a lot of people suffer because they try to eliminate pain. They think pain is wrong and bad and that we shouldn’t have it. Now, unfortunately our brain is wired to avoid pain and to move away from pain. And so, we get into the habit of resisting pain and avoiding pain and that very thing is what causes emotional suffering.
Now, back in the day, when we were just cave-lads, this was not a problem because we needed to avoid and pursue pleasure. We needed to avoid pain and pursue pleasure to survive. We were in survival mode with our bodies and our lives and our brain. But the way that we’ve evolved, now the opposite is true.
We need to now really accommodate our emotional pain if we want to live a full complete life. Now, avoiding pain and the pain that we experience in modern day life is literally what’s killing some of us.
So, I’ve talked about this a lot before, but I just wanted to touch on it again so we are clear. Your brain is wired to resist and avoid pain and therefore the way your brain is wired needs to be overcome for your next evolution in modern mental health management.
So, pain is half of your life. Pain and discomfort and negative emotion will be half of your life. And you will suffer when you don’t embrace that or acknowledge that or accept that. It’s the way your brain is wired. It’s the way your brain is wired to think.
You will have thoughts that will create this for you. And when you resist this and when you fight against it and when you’re upset because of it, that is when you suffer. You suffer when you have pain about your pain. When you are in pain for being in pain, you suffer.
Now, the way that I help solve this problem is I teach about pain and emotional pain and what causes it. Now, remember, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a long time, you know that we cause our emotional pain with our thoughts.
Now, I just had one of my students ask me the question, “So, if we just cause pain with our thoughts, why don’t we just always change our thoughts?” Now, it’s an interesting question, but it presupposes that the goal is to get out of pain. And a lot of people misinterpret the Model to believe that we’re only supposed to be constantly manipulating our thoughts and thinking positive thoughts so we can be happy all the time.
That is not the purpose of the Model and that’s not the purpose of my teaching. That’s what most people come to the world believing after they’ve gone through 18 years, is thinking, “We should be happy all the time.” The pursuit of happiness, “We should try to be happy more than we are.”
This is one of the biggest causes of emotional suffering is believing that we should be happier more often or more than we are. What I teach with the Model is that we should accept and be aware of and pay attention to our pain as part of the process of growing and evolving and being alive in the world. And when we don’t have pain about our pain, we can eliminate a lot of the suffering, resistance, and avoidance that’s preventing us from moving forward.
Now, my student asked me, he said, “So, when I came to this work, I had all of these goals and all of these things that I wanted to accomplish so I could feel worthy, so I could feel like I was good enough. And when I started learning this work, what I realized is that I didn’t need to achieve those things in order to feel worthy. I didn’t need to have those goals. I could just feel worthy now without any of the accomplishment.”
So, he told me, “Now I’m confused. Should I still pursue those goals? How do I know if I have a genuine desire for those goals or not? How do I know if I’m secretly pursuing them in trying to accomplish worthiness?”
And what I told him was, “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a goal because you want to feel more worthy. It’s just the way you think you’re going to accomplish that is backwards. You think you’re going to achieve the goal and then feel worthy, but really, you need to feel worthy in order to achieve the goal. So, the goal is valid. The goal is good. You want to have that because it will cause you to go through the discomfort to evolve and embrace your worthiness, but it’s not going to come from the result. It’s going to create the result.”
It’s so interesting, just as kind of a side note, I met with two of my friends when I went down to Austin. And one of my friends was talking about how he always believed that when he made it big and made a lot of money that it would be like a nice F-you to all the kids who had bullied him when he was a kid. It’s like, he would show them with his accomplishment and his success that he was worthy and that he wasn’t all the things that they were saying to him.
And what he realized is, of course, that doesn’t work. Buying cars and houses and spending your money and making a lot of money doesn’t compensate for your own feelings of unworthiness. And when you feel that way, when you feel like you need to show other people that you’re worthy because you have money, you have to keep spending your money. Which, of course, makes you worth less money – you see how it works? It makes you less-worth, less net-worth.
And that’s why I think t’s so interesting that that self-worth and that net-worth can be so intertwined when we believe that making more money will make us more worthy. And when we show off our wealth, that people will look at us and think that we’ve made it and that we’re worthy in that accomplishment and we won’t be bullied anymore.
And one of the things that I was saying to my two friends is I said, “It’s so interesting, this approach that you have, this idea that you think you’re going to make it when you accomplish and achieve success and have a lot of money.” I feel like it’s very different for women.
I feel like, with men, men are kind of taught more about, “Be successful, make a lot of money, that’s a sure sign that you’re a worthy human being.” And I’m not saying people are told that, but I think it’s in our culture. And I think, for women, it’s much more about, “Make sure you’re beautiful and attractive and thin and that will mean that you’re worthy. And, of course, be nice and kind and graceful.”
And so, I was telling them, I said, “My accomplishment with money is kind of the opposite. It’s like, I get a lot of hate for talking about it or buying nice things.” Whereas, I think sometimes men – and I’m totally generalizing but I think sometimes men get a lot more accolades for having all the nice things, whereas women it’s kind of like you’re bragging, you’re showing off, that’s so gauche and ridiculous, why are you even talking about that?
And they were totally fascinated we were talking about what a difference that experience has been for them and for me because we’ve all had quite a bit of success in our lives and so it’s just an interesting conversation. But the truth is and always will be that it doesn’t matter how much money you make. It doesn’t matter how beautiful you are. It doesn’t matter how thin you are. That cannot give you worthiness because you’ve always had worthiness.
It’s never been a question. You’ve never been less than ever. You’ve always been 100% worthy, no matter how much weight you gained or how much bankruptcy you filed for. None of that has ever touched your self-worth, ever. And so, we suffer when we think we aren’t worthy.
It’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves other people are more worthy than us, that there’s a way that we can increase our worthiness, or that once we are happy, we’ll be able to be the person that is worthy. And other people, when they see us as worthy, then we’ll be worthy.
The other people’s ability to see us as worthy has no effect on our worthiness at all. Everyone that listens to this podcast could think I was worthy, or they could think I’m worthless. That has no effect on my actual worth. And the same is true for you. Some of my brand-new baby coaches don’t understand, like, “Nobody knows who I am yet so I’m not worth anything yet.”
And I always tell them, I’m like, “You’re worth everything you’re ever going to be right this second, right this moment. You’re never going to be more worthy. I don’t care if you make $50 million, you’ll never be more worthy than you are in this moment. and when you think otherwise, you suffer.
When we argue with our pain, we suffer. Now, here’s the problem; we create our own pain with our thoughts and then we argue with our own thoughts. We argue with our own pain. We think we shouldn’t be in pain. We think that we should be happy and peaceful and loving all of the time.
Which makes no sense because look around, that is not the reality for anyone except on Facebook. If you want to know how life should be, look at how life is. That’s how it should be, exactly how it is, by design.
If you want to be happy all the time, remember what I say; you have to be happy about all the horrible things because those things aren’t going anywhere. You don’t want to be happy all the time because you don’t want to be happy about death and rape and kidnapping. You want to be horrified and upset and in pain about those things. You want to be a human being.
When you want external things to make you happy, you will suffer because they’re no good at it. Other people are so bad at making us happy. Items and money and success and clothing and purses, so bad at making us happy. We are the only things that can make us happy. And we feel so helpless and hopeless when we rely on the external world to change so we can be happy because we’re powerless to make it change.
We have this idea about how the world should be, how the government should be, how our families should be, how our communities should be, and they just don’t comply and we suffer for it. We suffer because we compare what is against this idea of what we think it should be and the idea of what we think it should be, we’ve just made up.
Ironically, we think there should be less suffering in the world, and believing that there should be less suffering in the world makes us suffer. We add the suffering with that belief system.
Another way I watch so many of my students suffer is when they believe things are better somewhere else or things will be better sometime in the future, that that’s when they’ll arrive and all of a sudden, the joy will come over them. It doesn’t happen that way because you’re still a human when you get there.
I actually had this conversation with my son. I was talking to him about golf and I said, “When do you think you will arrive?” And he’s like, “As soon as I go pro.” I said, “You know, when I asked you that question a year ago, you know what you said to me? When you we replaying division one.” He’s arrived, but he’s not just basking in it. he’s onto the next thing. He’s thinking about his next goal because that’s what the human brain does.
When we don’t understand how the brain works, we don’t understand our own power. We don’t understand our own power, to be aware of it, embrace, process pain, process emotion, change our thoughts, think into our future. We suffer. We don’t understand that the world isn’t happening to us, and so we suffer because we feel so helpless.
When we develop the ability to understand that life is 50-50 and we accept it and we stop arguing with it and we stop being in pain over our pain, we release suffering. We’re still in pain sometimes. We’re still uncomfortable a lot of the time. We’re just not mad about it anymore. We just don’t suffer about it anymore.
So many of my students come to me who have been trying to fix their lives with no relief and they feel so helpless. And they don’t know what else to do. They have been working and trying and aggressively hustling, trying to change the world, at least their immediate world. And it doesn’t change how they feel.
And they come to me exhausted and they take a deep breath and they say, “Please help me.” And I say, “Listen, I can’t change your world for you. I can’t go out there and make the world comply with what you want. But I can help you understand what it means to be a human being and I can help you manage your brain.”
So many of us suffer alone. We suffer silently and secretly. We feel like we have no right to suffer, so we feel alone and abnormal because we don’t think our suffering is justified, so we don’t want to talk about it. We’re embarrassed by it. We have so much in our lives. We have so much privilege and so much opportunity and so many of the things we’ve wanted in our life have come true, and yet we’re still suffering.
And the reason we’re suffering is because we don’t understand that we are only the cause of our own emotional suffering. And changing our lives, changing who we’re married to and if we have kids does not change our ability to suffer because we can still argue with what is.
And when you suffer so much that you feel shame about your own suffering, you are doing it wrong. When you don’t have pain about your pain, you just have the pain of being alive and you’re not afraid of it and you know that you can process it and you move towards it.
If you’re someone who has tried and given up and then settled, and then tried and then given up and then settled over and over and over again, you are a person who doesn’t understand why you suffer emotionally. It’s because you don’t understand what’s going on in your brain, which is an evolutionary tactic to survive that now needs to be changed in order to thrive in our modern world.
The work that I do with the Model ends emotional suffering. And so often, when we think about suffering, we think about people that are really addicted to heroin or people who are in third world countries physically suffering. But I am talking about emotional suffering, and it is real and it sucks and it can literally kill you. It can literally cause you to die in many, many ways.
The way that you show up in your life when you are suffering is nowhere near where you could show up. So, my solution is awareness. It’s understanding the brain. It’s understanding what you’re doing. Ask yourself, are you in pain about your pain?
Ae you suffering because you’re a human being? Are you suffering because life is 50-50? Are you suffering because you think life should be all rainbows and daisies and peace and love and kindness?
Somebody told us this one time. I think it was in kindergarten. What did they tell us? Everything should be fair and everyone should be nice and everyone should share and be sweet and say nice things to each other and we should all hold hands.”
And we get this idea in our life that that’s how it’s supposed to be, and we realize that it’s not that way. And so, we think that something’s gone terribly wrong. But what I want to tell you is that life is exactly as it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be filled with pain. That’s what it means to be a human. And it’s supposed to be filled with joy and awesomeness because one can’t exist without the other.
Suffering comes from rejecting tat, from wishing it were different, from wishing you were different and from not understanding that you’re already 100% worthy. So, my goal is to help you to stop suffering. My goal with this podcast and with Scholars and with life coach certification is to teach you to stop suffering so you can help other people to stop suffering.
We’re not going to eradicate pain, but we’re going to do our best to lower and eliminate suffering, it’s unnecessary and it doesn’t serve you and it doesn’t serve the world.
Have a beautiful week, my friends. I will talk to you soon. Take care, bye-bye.
Hey, if you enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out Self-Coaching Scholars. It's my monthly coaching program where we take all this material and we apply it. We take it to the next level and we study it. Join me over at the TheLifeCoachSchool.com/join. Make sure you type in the TheLifeCoachSchool.com/join. I'd love to have you join me in Self-Coaching Scholars. See you there.