Thich Nhat Hanh : People Prefer Suffering That is Familiar Rather Than Let Go

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master and a beloved spiritual leader and peace activist. Many people know him for his writings on mindfulness or perhaps Plum Village, the Buddhist meditation centre. His teachings are powerful and here we consider most people’s perspective of suffering. What is suffering?

To start, here are some questions to consider.

Are you ready to leave the old year behind?

Do you have room in your life for your dreams to come true?

Take some time to release from your life what no longer serves you and create a sacred space for what you do want.

The new is the unknown Thich Nhat Hanh is talking about. People are generally scared of what they don’t know, even to the extent that they rather stay with the devil they know. What is suffering? This is suffering, being attached to the idea of things, of who we are, of what we deserve, what we are worth.

Releasing something or someone who has been with us for a while, decades even, takes courage, and strength. It means letting go of an aspect of our life that has given us comfort and security at one point but may have become more of a crutch or a prison. It means letting go a part of our identity, and who we thought we were.


People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Are there repeating patterns in your life? Perhaps the same themes weave through your relationships or job environment? Do you feel suffocated and all the joy is being squeezed out? Do you feel “stuck”?

It is time.  At first it may sound easier said than done. With practice, patience, and self-care, releasing can be a smooth and fruitful journey.

What’s Holding You Back from Moving Forward?

Take a moment. Exhale. Hold this question so ever gently in your mind and observe what surfaces. You can use a journal to release some of the superficial thought-loops and over time (or instantaneously) allow the deeper truth to be revealed.

Having a daily practice of some kind, be it a seated meditation, yoga, gardening, walking with your dog or doodling, adds tremendous value. It is a ritual that becomes a bedrock for when things go haywire.

Some people also have several decks of oracle cards, from Angel cards to fractal energy cards and these awesome #truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte, that they pull one from every morning. It serves as a great reminder and message.

You can make “Release” your mantra.

Find your own way.

truthbomb_634 It's Unfolding Right Now Danielle LaPorte

It is much easier to allow what you need to release by doing so gently and with gratitude. Pushing hard, and struggling to have it happen, much like trying to remember the name of that person, is unnecessary stress on yourself. Being kind to yourself does wonders to your level of well-being. Self-care is super important.

Other self-help tips include using heart-focused breathing (simply breathing into and out of your heart area), holding your fingers (which harmonizes the different organ energies), connecting with nature, hitting the pause button, and giving yourself time and space to breathe and to (re)discover your joys.

We have to exhale and inhale. Release and invite in. This is the balance.

What is suffering to you? What are you holding on that may be suffering?