To varying degrees, I imagine most of us feel the same kinds of inner-turmoil throughout any given day. If we feel like our problems are insurmountable, that is just because we think things should be different than they are. Likewise, when someone speaks harshly toward us, we instinctively feel that the speaker is wrong. This is a filter we project onto reality that has nothing at all to do with how things actually are, and then we let anger arise or feel despair and the “woe is me” starts.
We are absolutely an active participant in this – it doesn’t “just happen to us.”
In my own experience, I often see this active participation after I’ve already let the process start, but once I see it for what it is it just melts away, usually leaving me feeling more silly than anything else. In fact, sometimes in feeling silly I even let the whole process start over again, as if being upset about feeling silly about being upset is somehow productive!
Of course, this is easy for me to say, I suppose… one could argue I have it pretty good. I have a comfortable home, a stable family life (if anything about having a two-year-old in the home could be called “stable”), and a job at which everyone seems to think I’m some sort of expert… Every one I talk to seems to think I’m doing great at everything, and just as much as I could let anger or despair ruin me when “bad” things happen, I could also let elation take me for a ride when things seem to be going well, and this is no better.
I’ve learned the other side of praise: blame. No one is entirely without blame, and just so, no one is entirely unworthy of praise. Knowing praise and blame for what they are, opposite sides of the same coin, we would do best to not let the mind see things through the filter of thinking in terms of perfected or flawed when these concepts have no intrinsic value. Transcend the need to ascribe credit (either good or bad) to people or things for what happens in life, or perhaps what hasn’t happened.
In this way, we can be at peace whether life is swell, or even when it is not so much.
Praise reaffirms “me.” Blame threatens “me.” So we like the praise and we dislike the blame… So we are constantly in a quandary, and in constant fear. The ego might lose a little bit of its grandeur. It might be made a bit smaller by someone. And it happens to all of us. Somebody is undoubtedly going to blame us for something eventually. Even the Buddha was blamed.*
Think about it a little. Please be well, friends.
*Reference: “Meditating on No-Self: A Dhamma Talk (Edited forBodhi Leaves)”, by Sister Khema. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 2 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khema/bl095.html