Adders and Subtractors: What can you do in the moment of suffering?

by Dan McLintock


The next time you start to suffer deeply about something, stop for a moment as soon as you realize what’s happening. Right after you recognize that you have been emotionally triggered by some person or event, ask yourself:


“Did I just choose to start suffering”?


If you somehow initially get a “yes”, stop again. Check and see if you can truly stop the suffering in that very moment. See if you can very quickly start “not minding”.

If you’re honest with yourself, and are anything like most people, you won’t be able to just spontaneously “snap out” of emotional suffering.

You will recognize that the suffering started ‘on its own’; like a conditioned response. And that’s exactly what it is.


For years we have all been bombarded by beliefs- conscious and uncounsious- that were borne of our experiences in life. Now it seems to be coming to a point where we can’t tell the difference between who we actually are and the heavy belief-based conditioning that has been controlling us. When this programming gets activated by just the right triggering situation it literally takes us over in body and mind and we suffer. No wonder some folks think that demons exist - it truly feels like we’re being possessed by our pain when the trigger comes.


The problem with the demon/evil concept is that once we start believing that these things are real (and possibly outside of us) it becomes just another belief/concept/idea that compounds (and probably intensifies) our suffering and confusion. It is the same for any and every other belief. They’re just like that... they create suffering and separation (even the seemingly ‘good’ ones). The suffering happens because in those moments, we have added something to what is - to reality.


I’ve developed a wise wariness of anyone who’s trying to ‘add’ and not ‘subtract’. The adders typically are anxious themselves and have an agenda. Most subtractors I know just want what I want - freedom. For themselves, me and all.


Furthermore, if I put the problem or “evil” outside of me the solution changes as well. Suddenly, in order to relieve suffering, I must change external circumstances so that I can be ok.


Has that ever permanently worked for any of y’all? Just checkin’ cuz it hasn’t here.


Oh and see if you can remember who it was that explained to you what demons/evil were...how did you feel about them? Were they trustworthy, happy and sane? Mine weren’t any of the three... but maybe yours were?


A Course in Miracles states “I’m never upset for the reason I think”. In my experience this has proved to be true over and over again. I used to get triggered deeply anytime I perceived that anyone was “manipulating me”. After doing enough inquiry into that toxic belief, I realized that the belief, “They’re manipulating me”, has been one of my most sacred ‘religions’ since I was at least four or five years old and I experienced lots of manipulation from adults who had been conditioned by adults who had been conditioned to manipulate. Hello generational trauma.

So next time you get triggered by someone or something, and come to terms with the fact that you have no choice about the suffering in that moment, try asking yourself “what am I believing about this situation?” - “what do I perceive as the most basic ‘facts’ here?” It could be something as simple as “They don’t like me”, "I'm not safe", or “I’m alone”. Right when you identify the belief you’ll know it because you’ll feel a sense of trueness in your body as a contraction/pain/tightness/emotion etc.


Sometimes I’ll go straight to Byron Katie’s 4th question from her work (which you ought to at least check out) and ask “Who would I be without this thought?” And then really try to sense/feel the answer.


Who we’d be without the thought (or any thought for that matter) is pure, unconditioned, loving awareness just like how an infant or a dog or cat operates and/or views the world - without any filter of programming, story, or suffering. Doesn’t that sound more appealing than attending the church of “they’re angry with me” or “they’re watching/judging me” much of the time? If it does hit me up! Or any of Scott Kiloby or Byron Katie’s facilitators up and get some freedom goin’ over there.

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