I’ve been thinking again!
This notion that things are supposed to be any certain way, that we are supposed to feel good, not feel bad, not have bad things happen, not die. THIS is the enemy. This is the root of all suffering. Can I learn to be present with my anxiety without trying to change it? Can I learn to witness my panic attacks without attachment? Can I stop arguing with reality and allow my panic to just be? This is the paradox. By releasing my resistance to panic, panic goes away. That which you resist persists. Why do I think I should not suffer? Why do I believe I should not have problems? How could I live in this world and NOT have problems? Everyone has problems, this one is mine. I have had others and likely will have more. So what? Life isn’t supposed to be about dodging bullets! I’m supposed to be more powerful than that, smarter than that, cleverer than that? I have failed, I am now stupid and fat and lazy and unworthy of love because I suffer? That apparently is EXACTLY what I think. And I’ve just had the lovely realization that panic is going to stay with me until I can sit through it infinitely without attachment. It is the perfect teacher. Anyone can meditate in isolation on a beautiful mountain. Can you sit and meditate in anguish? Then you have achieved enlightenment. (Can I now declare that I don’t want to be enlightened after all?!)
I’ve noticed some things about myself this week. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten caught in the “bargaining” trap. I keep thinking I can do enough right things to avoid this suffering. When I feel like I’m doing all I can and I’m still struggling then I spiral out of control pretty rapidly. I’ve also realized that I’m afraid to feel happy and afraid to relax. This seems to me to be classic victim thinking: I don’t dare let my guard down for an instant lest some Bad Thing take notice and pounce on me, snatching away all that is good in my life. So, I go along unable to feel all the good things around me! (Am I the Bad Thing, myself, perhaps?? I am clearly playing the role of Taker-Away-of-Good-Things as it stands…) I look at the lives of others. I can name real problems real people, both strangers and personal friends, have that would be much worse to experience than anything I’ve dealt with. I am afraid I haven’t suffered enough! What sickness is this??!! Those who know me well also know how ridiculous this is. I have experienced bad things, and enough of them; I have all that minimized in my mind such that my perspective is perhaps severely skewed.
I’ve hit on a string of erroneous beliefs here. No doubt we all have these: coping mechanisms, misinterpretations, rules learned as children that don’t hold water. What are yours? Do you see faulty beliefs or patterns of thought that exacerbate your suffering? What is your suffering like today? What would bring you relief?