Life is confusing, complicated, and sometimes painful. There is no question that we all face a daily barrage of feelings of inadequacy, fear, and outright confusion. The question is "How do I react to this?"
We often react in a manner to protect ourselves from fear, pain, and feelings of being inadequate with avoidance or addictive behaviors. We use drugs, alcohol, television, our jobs, or even codependent relationships to hide from our pain. When these things don't work we blame others and become manipulative. Surely we're not to blame for our own pain, it must be someone else's fault. At this point we've given away our power and the responsibility for our own happiness. We typically react by withdrawing further or we start to try to manipulate others and situations in the external world. Since our happiness and well being relies on everyone and everything 'out there', we need to control and manipulate and that leads to deeper feelings of unworthiness and emptiness.
The harder choice, which must be made every moment of every day, is to maintain responsibility for our own lives - including our happiness and sense of worth. In order to do this we must not turn away from pain. We must care enough for ourselves, for life, and for others to face the hard feelings and learn the lessons that they provide. We have to open up to learning about our fears, our shame, our feelings of being unworthy and come to understand the source of these misunderstandings, and how to nurture them until we are whole again. Hiding, avoiding, and numbing will not make our pain go away. Only by leaning in and facing ourselves can we learn what truly brings love and fulfillment. Reaping the benefits of being a fully alive and spiritual being requires caring enough to do the hard work and leaning into it no matter what.
Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
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