The Buddha developed the Four Noble Truths as a means for each of us to understand the nature of suffering, i.e. what suffering is, and to show us a way to overcome it. Though they are his teachings and guidelines, each of us still has to come to the awareness of what suffering is and how to free ourselves from it on our own. Being told or studying how to do something doesn’t mean we truly know and understand it. We must go through the process and do it ourselves. And usually it takes a lot of practice, practice, practice! Understanding ourselves from within is no different.
The first of the Four Noble Truths is Dukkha, which means suffering or dissatisfaction, and is often stated as: there is suffering. We all are aware of the external sufferings of the world: violence, poverty, etc., but to free ourselves from suffering, we must first acknowledge that suffering exists within ourselves. The first Noble Truth is telling us to look deep inside and self-reflect on what it is that we do mentally, emotionally, and psychologically that causes our own suffering. What thoughts of the mind or beliefs of the ego are we holding onto that cause us to be continually dissatisfied with ourselves and with life? In what ways do our mindsets and attitudes create and contribute to our suffering? We must acknowledge that there is suffering within us before we can truly understand its nature.