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My Easing Out Story

I’m calling this my “easing out story” because I never actually came out in any dramatic sense, which seems to be the case for most young pe...

Saturday, 15 May 2010

You Make Me Miserable

And other lies we tell ourselves:
A young person’s Guide to Inner Peace
by Daniel Moreau

‘My mum makes my life miserable!’…or how about this one: ‘My dad won’t let me do anything that’s fun!’ And then there’s the ever-popular: ‘My math teacher really has it in for me!’ Now be careful about this: if none of these sounds familiar to you, then not only are you an exceptional human being but you also have the ability to lie convincingly…to yourself!
Sentiments of this nature (and many, many more) are an integral part of growing up and self-realization. It’s all part of an ever-growing feeling that no one really understands you or cares about you. In some cases, you might even believe that everyone hates you or, worse still, that you hate everyone!
My very first advice to you is: take it easy, it’s all part of the journey. What you DO need to understand though, is that any of these feelings and emotions, if not checked, can stay with you for life and contribute even further to your growing anxiety level. In later adult life you will be more prone to stress, and less prone to co-operative existence both in your personal as well as professional life. Negative emotions, when un-checked, have a natural tendency to grow in both frequency and intensity.
The first thing you need to work on is the realization that all these types of reactions and emotions come from your own mind. They are not the fault of anyone other than ourselves. In spite of the fact that we may believe that everyone is ‘out to get me’ or that ‘no one let’s me do what I want’, all of our misery is self-inflicted. Example: you see the blond from your psych class who thinks that she’s better than everyone else walking past you in the hall with some jock-type and you really HATE her! Or it might be someone at work who never pulls her own weight! Or someone who’s tone of voice disgusts you. The truth is, you know little if anything at all about these people and these feelings are pure spin, complete illusion, or even delusion, on your part. For all you know, the blond might be over-compensating for her extremely low self-esteem; the girl in the office may not be aware of the extent of her duties or is unable to cope; and the one whose tone is offensive to you may be trying her best. But regardless of any of this, the feeling we experience is ours alone. It is not shared by the intended victim of our malice. WE are the ones who suffer from feeling bad; no one else! Ironic, isn’t it? All this time we thought we were aiming our disdain toward someone else and…BANG!...it comes right back at US!
So the question we need to ask ourselves is: ‘What does harbouring such feelings about others achieve? How does it satisfy me? Does it make me happy or miserable?’ Worse yet, the more we let this feeling prevail, the more it grows and the more we suffer; and all the while our intended victim is blissfully ignorant of such disdain. The odds are that even if the person knew of our feelings, she could care less! So, all in all, a total waste of energy!
Then, of course there is the possibility of jealousy! The great ‘green-eyed monster’! This is more complex as we have a tendency to deny that we harbour such primordial feelings. We prefer to say out loud that the reason they may think themselves better is because they have this or that and, of course, who cares? The feeling is part of what we call the negative emotion of desire. This is an evil little devil and can also give us much pain when we lose something which we had thought was permanent, such as a favourite material object or, what’s even worse, a personal relationship. Once we have attained our object of desire (be it material or personal), we then suffer from the evil of grasping in order to keep something which, we ought to know, is impermanent. Nothing in the universe is of a permanent nature; absolutely nothing! But such is the nature of our existence. The trick is learning to deal with the suffering of change.
I do not claim that all of our misfortunes are completely our own fault. After all, conditions and circumstances play an important part in our daily life. Many, if not most, of these are outside our direct control. However, the control we DO exercise is on the present moment. And how we deal with this moment will directly impact the next. One moment follows another. And this moment is of the same basic nature and type as the previous one. If I react negatively right now, the next moment will also be a negative one. If I react positively, then positive things may occur. This is known as the ‘law of cause and effect’. Understanding the mechanics of this will go a long way to giving us control over our own happiness. But most of all, it will help us put all events into perspective and allow us to accept the inevitable in a more relaxed manner.
In order to start dealing more effectively with this moment we must first see that, plainly, there are ground rules. The first of these is: the past is past. Yes, that’s right! Nothing can change what has gone before; nothing, never! So guilt and anger will serve no purpose other than to contribute to our misery. However, regret is a useful tool. Regret, or contrition, means that we have learnt something from the experience and will not repeat the same mistake again. For the most part, the past can be stored and forgotten.
Then, of course, there is the future. We can positively influence the future on the basis of our present actions. What we cannot do is predict what outside circumstances may prevail to change even the best laid plans. So, this is something else to forget about. Worry is a useless thing…just as useless as guilt. If we can do something about a given situation, then we do it; no need to worry. If we can’t do anything about it, then there really is nothing more to worry about.
Now, don’t get me wrong: this does not mean that we are at the mercy of fate. What it means is that we can exercise our influence over future events by simply doing the best with the moment at hand: the only moment over which we exercise complete control!
So, how does this help me be a happier person? Firstly, we realize to what extent we have imagined all of our own misery. We realize how much responsibility we have for our own unhappiness by neglecting our own participation in events. We must stop using the presence, nay, mere existence, of our parents, siblings, teachers, enemies, strangers, as being the cause of anything at all. Our mind controls all aspects of our emotions, both positive and negative ones. We need to develop a more realistic approach to how human-kind functions. All those things that we imagine others are doing just to annoy us are, in reality, simply their way of trying to deal with their own situations and their own responsibilities as they see them.
They are trying to achieve the same goals as me: happiness and peace of mind! And they are trying to avoid the same things, too: unhappiness and suffering! The solution is at hand or, rather, in my mind!

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