Cover image for Suffering is optional : a spiritual guide to freedom from self-judgment & feelings of inadequacy / Gail Brenner, PhD.
Suffering is optional : a spiritual guide to freedom from self-judgment & feelings of inadequacy / Gail Brenner, PhD.
Publication Information:
Oakland, CA : New Harbinger Publications, Inc., [2018]

Physical Description:
ix, 203 pages ; 23 cm


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
204.42 BRE Book Adult General Collection

On Order



If you struggle with self-defeating thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, you are not alone. We've all felt inadequate, believing that we're broken or otherwise unworthy. But this doesn't have to be a life sentence. Presenting four guiding principles and five core practices based in deep spiritual wisdom, Suffering Is Optional reveals how to liberate yourself from the prison of false self-beliefs holding you back. Millions of people feel that they are not good enough. They may struggle every day, seeing themselves as deficient, pathetic, or damaged, and destined to fail. They convince themselves they aren't worthy of love or respect, and view themselves with self-hatred. When you believe and cling to painful, self-defeating thoughts like ";I can't do it,"; ";It won't work,"; or ";I'm a loser,"; they become your personal reality--and the more you repeat them, the more you believe them, until they come to define you. Sadly, these limiting self-definitions lead to even more pain and suffering: hidden shame, problems in relationships, opportunities lost, and a life not fully lived. In Suffering Is Optional, clinical psychologist Gail Brenner offers practical ways to discover that you are not what your thoughts tell you you are. Rather than showing you how to become a better version of yourself, this book goes straight to the heart of the problem--that you've mistakenly identified yourself as broken and undeserving--to guide you out of these limiting thoughts and into an investigation of the nature of reality that ultimately liberates you from your suffering. With these exercises, experiments, reflections, practices, and inspiring stories, you'll have a spiritual solution to your personal problem of limitation and self-sabotage. Using the four guiding principles and five core practices presented in this book--including turning toward direct experience, grounding in aware presence, losing interest in thoughts, welcoming feelings, and the sacred return to presence--you'll be able to shed your false identity and wake up to the inherent peace and happiness that is available to you in any given moment.

Author Notes

Gail Brenner, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and author who joyfully helps people discover that suffering is optional. Through her own experience and twenty-five years working with clients, she has discovered how to unravel common problems of everyday life to reveal the deepest acceptance and peace.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Introduction: Getting Startedp. 1
Part 1 Laying The Groundwork
1 Discovering Freedomp. 13
2 Exploring Identityp. 29
3 Core Practice #1: Turning Toward Your Experiencep. 47
4 Core Practice #2: The Safe Haven of Being Awarep. 65
5 Core Practice #3: Losing Interest in Thoughtsp. 83
6 Core Practice #4: Welcoming Feelingsp. 101
7 Core Practice #5: The Sacred Returnp. 119
Part 2 Living Free
8 A Fresh Relationship with Your Pastp. 145
9 The Pain of Taking Things Personallyp. 165
10 Living the Awakened Lifep. 185
Acknowledgmentsp. 205
Appendix; Four Guiding Principles and Five Core Practicesp. 207
Referencesp. 209