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Second Arrow

What does Second Arrow mean?

 

Second Arrow refers to a Buddhist story about pain and suffering. It is said that the Buddha once asked a group of his students, "If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The students replied, “It is.” Buddha then asked, “If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The students replied, “It is.” Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow, however, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”

 

In therapy, the second arrow represents all the ways, subtle or obvious, that we amplify our pain when confronted with uncontrollable life situations, and unintentionally create more suffering for ourselves.

 

We all do this. It is in our nature to shoot ourselves with that second arrow. No one responds perfectly to the hardships in life, and despite the suffering caused by these second arrows, it is important to recognize they often represent our best efforts to simply survive.

 

Therapy is about helping you gain awareness and understanding of these second arrows to become more skillful in reducing the suffering in your life and shift from a place of surviving to thriving.

 

The process allows you to become more capable of navigating difficult experiences, and as a result, feel more in control and empowered to create a more fulfilling life that allows you to focus on what matters most to you in spite of obstacles and challenges thrown your way.

Image by Erin Minuskin
Image by Daniela Turcanu