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Suffering Is Optional
A Spiritual Guide to Freedom from Self-Judgment and Feelings of Inadequacy
Average: 2.8 (4 votes)
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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.

Publisher Reviews
  • “Many people wonder, ‘How can I live my best life in these uncertain times of change and disruption?’ Gail Brenner’s book offers practical tools to help you move past feeling stuck in your past or limited by the present. She keeps you company as you learn to find peace of mind to live a fuller life—without changing others—while changing the way you see, and more importantly, believe in yourself.”
    Nance Guilmartin, author of Healing Conversations and The Power of Pause

  • Suffering Is Optional is a must-read for anyone who’s ever felt broken or inadequate. Gail offers clear, practical advice, along with tools and practices anyone can implement to find relief from the pain of their own self-judgment. It’s possible to see yourself in a whole new light and experience a freer, more peaceful life—and this is the road map to do it.”
    Lori Deschene, author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, and cofounder of the Recreate Your Life Story eCourse

  • “Truth is always simple. In this profound and easy-to-read book, you will be reminded of what you already know and what has always been with you but has been covered over by your seemingly endless search. Come home and rest in this moment, allowing this book to be a dear friend and a reminder of Truth.” 
    Mary O’Malley, author of What’s in the Way Is the Way and The Gift of Our Compulsions 

  • Suffering Is Optional points you toward deep, fundamental truths about your true nature and the nature of your experience. It doesn’t provide a fix for what you experience. It shows you that you are already perfect and whole regardless of what you experience. The truths in this book can wake you up to the fact that suffering truly is optional. I will be sharing this one with my own clients and students.”
    Amy Johnson, PhD, author of The Little Book of Big Change, and creator of The Little School of Big Change

  • “If you are challenged by negative, limiting thoughts or beliefs, self-doubt, anxiety, or fear, this book is for you. Gail Brenner is a gentle, wise, master guide who will lead you on the path of self-love, happiness, and inner peace.”
    Arielle Ford, author of Turn Your Mate into Your Soulmate

  • “Gail Brenner offers a creative distillation of wise guiding principles and powerful core practices that can free you from your self-induced suffering. Well written and easily accessible, Suffering Is Optional points to something that is often completely overlooked in conventional psychological literatureour inherent wholeness and freedom.”
    John J. Prendergast, PhD, author of In Touch; retired adjunct professor of psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)

  • “At the heart of Buddhism and many forms of modern psychology are two fundamental teachings. The first is that suffering is inevitable. And the second is that suffering can be overcome. For many, this remains an elusive goal, but with Gail Brenner’s book, Suffering Is Optional, responding to the challenges of life in a new way is not a distant goal, but something that can happen here and now. If you have ever wanted to find a better way, you need look no further than the pages of this book.” 
    Darren Main, author of Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic

  • Suffering Is Optional presents what is essentially the most important question of a lifetime: ‘If I am not my thought-based identities, then who am I?’ With a depth of compassion that can only arise out of honest self-investigation, Gail Brenner clearly lays out how painful and unnecessary thought patterns consistently obscure the effortless fulfillment that is our birthright. Most critically, she presents a practical pathway to permanently cut through tenacious patterns of self-judgment and beliefs in inadequacy. This book is offering you the keys to a life of clarity and freedom. Take the keys and open the door!”
    Shanti Einolander, editor of ONE the Magazine and Gangaji’s The Diamond in Your Pocket

  • “Gail’s book is an amazing combination of direct path invitation into freedom and detailed inquiry into the conditioned thoughts and emotions that obscure it. It shares astute psychological insight and self-help-style writing exercises in a structured way that will benefit both beginners and those already awake to their true nature. Its clarity and compassionate wisdom are a beautiful and inspiring expression of Being, showing the reader the ‘sacred return home.’ I learned a few shortcuts home myself, thanks to Gail!”
    Grace Bubeck, PhD, therapist, meditation teacher, spiritual mentor, and founder of Living from Love live online events


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