It’s really easy to get absolutely fed up with “working on your personal issues.”
Some days it’s all you can think about, and you get inspired and you sign up for something, or make a plan, or journal and feel like you’ve reached a very important insight.
But many, many other days, you’re just sick of the same old shit happening… over, and over.
Sometimes, you get disgusted with yourself, not believing how “selfish” or “pathetic” you are for constantly thinking about your own flaws and problems.
But, here’s the thing. There’s a reason your mind keeps bringing you back to your own suffering again and again. It’s because deep down, you’ve always had a sense of what you’re like when you are truly being yourself, and a sense of you-when-you-are-happy. And you’re secretly in love with that, we all are.
It’s actually a great thing: Your best self won’t let you off the hook, won’t let you live a half- or quarter-life when you already know how life could be.
It would be so much worse if people paid less attention to their personal suffering. That means they would go about their days feeling defeated and shitty – and how do people act when they feel that way inside? They may become withdrawn and isolated, they may externalize their pain by “letting it out” on someone else, they may actively or passively cause damage to their surroundings because they just don’t have it in them to give a damn at the moment.
Your personal work is so important because: If everyone truly allowed themselves to focus on and work to heal their own suffering, the resultant peaceful minds and hearts are what we would all be interacting with when we go out into the world.
There’s no heart in this world that doesn’t want relief from suffering, peace. Consider even a drastic example: a suicide bomber wants to eliminate what he believes is displeasing to his God; he believes his God knows what is good. He wants to please his good God because it gives him peace; there’s nothing like believing that God is good and that God loves you, and that therefore all is well and at peace. We all live a version of this when we are tiny children. There’s nothing like knowing that mom and dad are smiling, proud of you, everything safe and happy for the moment: peace.
The thing with the suicide bomber is that something has gone terribly awry when one adopts the delusion that violence can lead to true and lasting peace. It’s the same crisis that unfolds when you believe war can lead to no war, that shame can lead to positive change, that deprivation can lead to a feeling of enough-ness and abundance. These are all terrible substitutes for the mechanisms of change that really work: patience, learning, understanding, lack of instant gratification, tolerance, sustained effort, genuine interest, respect, humor. It all amounts to a lack of loving attention. Out of that lack comes a desperate and forceful attempt at change. We know from both our personal and global experience that those types of attempts do not work.
When you do the hard work and you do find some peace, you cease to have a desire to harm yourself, others, or the surrounding world around you in general. You are naturally gentle, loving, energetic, giving, happy.
So if you find yourself completely sick of working on your eating behaviors, your negative self-talk, your resistance to living a life you love, then firstly, notice that you are actually suffering in this very moment. Then, remember that every bit of healing you create for yourself, takes away a bit of the conflict in the world.
There’s no better work for you to do. Your inner state affects EVERYTHING you do, every interaction you have with any other beings. Work with the suffering you have right now. That is your most important work. You can’t skip over it, you can’t put it on the back burner and expect it to go away because you’re doing other “good and important” things. If you’re not paying attention to your own suffering, then you’re off doing those other good and important things with less energy, happiness, authenticity, and effectiveness than you could be, by far. Your creativity is WAY held back. Others don’t feel how much you love them as much as they could, no matter what words you say or even what acts you do. It’s the feel of you.
It’s about how you REALLY feel, NOW. That is what needs attention. Know it will be excruciatingly frustrating at times, but keep going. Remember what the world could be like if everyone did this. We have no idea what difference one person who’s truly on fire can make in this world – cliche or not, you know it’s true. Trust that you are enough, you are important enough to spend your full attention and compassion on. Touch the depths of yourself. Go all the way. You are the only one you can do this with, I don’t care if you’re a therapist, lover, spiritual teacher, mother – you can’t touch anyone with the same intimacy that you can touch your own self with. But the closer you get with yourself, certainly, the more you can offer that depth to others.
You are so important. Pay attention, do the work, do it now! =)