So you are miserable and want to know why…
“So you are miserable and want to know why. Let’s take a closer look the self that seems to be at the center of so many of our problems.
Soon after birth you were given a name and a bunch of data to help identify you – length, weight, eye color, date and time of birth, parents’ names and maybe even sibling names. You were now a little person that had a whole bunch of words and pictures associated with you.
Over time as you grew up, made friends, participated in activities, attended school and landed a job many adjectives and qualities were stuck to you in the same way you might put a sticky-note on a white board. Only these were invisible sticky labels because they lived inside and were fed by belief, attention, and meaning given to them. It seems to be something that humans do.
It’s quite natural to know yourself as your name, your title, roles, and positive or negative qualities that have come to define you. We are told we are good, bad, kind, lazy, talented, and worthless. We also learn to connect our value to the job we have and how much money we earn. Our self-image gets a boost when we get a promotion and think that we’ve made it now. These are all words and ideas about who we think we are and the list gets quite long.
The mind gets caught in all the stories it is fed and actually begins to dictate how you behave, who you spend time with and how you engage with life. And since, for most of us, the self we take ourselves to be is fearful, restless, anxious, and defensive there will be the need to protect itself from the threat of what others say, do, and feel. Everything in life seems to be about you and that makes it difficult to simply be.
All this self-interpretation quickly boils down to there being something “wrong” with you. You believe you suffer from a character defect and then there is a movement to create a better, nicer, more lovable self who will attract good things, be important, right and beautiful. For example, someone talks about you in a disparaging way and hurt and anger show up. Or maybe praise and adoration falls upon you and you are now believe you are special and wonderful. Either way you are buying into a story about a self and you’re going to cling to it one day and resist it the next. You have become trapped on a roller coaster that you can never get off. Life will take you up and down and the mind will keep layering on all this data as proof of your identity. And as long as there is a “you” with all these labels and features then there is also the “other” with its own labels who can threaten and harm you. Living in a world of separation perpetuates conflict, violence, and the painful story of loneliness.
Humans suffer so much because there is such an investment in the self-image or persona that has been built up over the years. And why wouldn’t you try and protect yourself if you really thought you were in danger. The problem is that all these concepts we have about ourselves are simply adopted, taken to be true and never investigated. What if you just stopped for a moment to question some of these ideas you have about yourself? Can you really find a bad person? If you are always growing, working at different jobs, changing residences, beginning and ending relationships, playing in a constant flow, then can you really say what you are? Can you be pinned down and defined by any one moment or experience?
We are so afraid to lose our story because it has become so familiar and dear to us. Who would we be without it? It’s worth taking the time to find out because what you keep looking for so you can finally relax is what you already are. No accomplishment, external fame, material stuff or appreciation will ever fulfill you”.