“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolleadvertisement - learn more
When we take something personally we invariably suffer. Why? Because we are believing a thought that claims that reality, what is, should be different than it is. But is this true? Can the present moment be other than it is? No, because there is no other moment available!!
Take a look for yourself. Can you actually find some other moment (like an alternate reality hiding somewhere “off stage”) besides the one that is presently appearing? No, you cannot. Which is why resistance to what is brings suffering; you are rejecting the only thing that actually IS, for something imaginary, which IS NOT. That’s insane.
“When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.” – Byron Katie
Acceptance Of What Is
On the other hand, when the presently arising moment is met with acceptance, our experience is one of peace because we are not in resistance to what is. For example, around five years ago I accidentally side swiped a pole as I was pulling out of a parking space. When I hopped out of my car to inspect the damage, I could see that there was now a dent the size of a football in the side of my SUV. In the past, this would have been a source of suffering as I surely would have berated myself for being so careless, not to mention being irritated/annoyed that I now had to spend time, energy and money having it fixed.
However, to my surprise, I found myself seeing the dent for what it was: simply a dent. Yes, an approximate 8×10 inch portion of the side of my car now buckled inward a few inches rather than being flush with the surrounding metal, but that was it.
In that moment, I could see that any suffering regarding what had just happened was entirely optional. That the dent itself was not making me suffer (how can something inanimate make you suffer??), but rather only a belief in a mind-made story about the event and how it should have been different had the power to bring suffering.
In that moment of clarity, I was able to take what happened in stride and not make it into more than what it was. In fact, because the dent caused me zero suffering, I didn’t even bother to get it fixed. (That is until a year later when a couple of guys in a Ralph’s market parking lot approached me and offered to fix it for cheap, which I was happy to let them do).
There is no denying that it felt good not to be controlled by something that in the past would have been labeled as “a problem” and thus a source of suffering.
And again, the key was not overlaying what happened with a mental story filled with blame, guilt, regret, etc. about why it happened. However, it’s important to note that even if these emotions arise, that still doesn’t mean there is a problem. It just means feelings of blame, guilt, regret, etc., are what’s presently happening. So even these emotions are accepted as simply being “what is.”
Is The One That Claims There Is A Problem Findable?
The second thing you can do to not take things personally is investigate this “you” that claims whatever happened is a problem. Can this one actually be found? Because if the imagined separate entity that claims something is a problem cannot be found, then WHO exactly is the one taking the situation personally??
“Take a look at what is called the sense of being someone. What is it? What is the proof that it signifies the existence of someone? Is there any absolute foundation for that knowledge? Or was it only ever just an assumption? There are feelings, sensations, thoughts, images, and concepts. That is all. But none of it actually references anything. Try as you might, you cannot find the center, the actual separate self.” – Joey Lott
I’ve looked, and I cannot actually find anyone here that exists as a separate entity. Yes, a thought can claim to be an “I” or a “me” (and a feeling can even “feel like me”), but that is NOT the same as an actual, separate, autonomous, independent, living entity.
But please don’t take my word for it. Believing there is no self is not enough. You have to actually look, usually repeatedly, to see that this sense of being a separate self only exists as a “sense,” and nothing more. Again, because the sense of being a separate self feels real (and is reinforced by layers upon layers of conditioning), it is assumed that it is real. However, children around the world believe in Santa Claus, but that doesn’t make him a real person. Like Santa, the “self” is a fiction that does not hold up under direct investigation.
Without an imaginary “self” to keep score of whether what happens is advantageous or not advantageous, there is just whatever is presently happening… but for no one. The idea that Life requires a mental “me” to function is a fallacy. In fact, it is my experience that Life functions beautifully and intuitively when this imaginary energy sucking parasite called the “self,” (with its litany of never-ending imaginary problems) is seen through.
(Note: you are not trying to get rid of the “self”—not sure how you would even do that—rather, you are simply seeing clearly what has always been the case: it has NEVER actually existed. After all, if you can’t actually find something, how can you claim it exists!?)
So the suggestion is to simply let go. Let go of needing to micromanage life. Control is seen to be an illusion when upon direct investigation it is seen (to your own satisfaction, which is truly all that matters) that there is no actual separate entity to control anything, much less take it personally.
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