“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.” ~Anthony de Mello
When people come to me suffering from anxiety, fear, anger, self-judgment etc., there are five things they invariably believe to be true.
Let’s take as an example. Most (if not all) people with anxiety believe that:
1. It’s bad or wrong to feel anxious. 2. It shouldn’t be there. 3. There’s something wrong with me (for being anxious). 4. My mind should be peaceful. 5. I can’t experience peace until my anxiety is gone.
Pretty much everyone nods in agreement as I take them through this list.
Few people, if any, would question the truth of these statements.
They are, as the spiritual teacher Anthony de Mello says:
“Beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.”
And I’d say that these alone produce 98 percent (if not more) of the unnecessary suffering that most people experience.
Maybe you’ve heard the expression “pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice”?
Experiencing anxiety is unpleasant. There’s no denying it’s a painful experience.
But it’s our beliefs and mental commentary about anxietythat cause most of the suffering.
“Anxiety is awful. I hate it. I can’t go on like this. What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I’m so screwed up. I’ll never be happy again.”
The mind’s commentaryabout the anxiety adds fuel to the fire and turns a painful experience into full-blown suffering.
Lastingpeace can never be found on the level of thinking. The mind is restless by nature. It’s not wrong. It’s simply how the mind is.
To end suffering, we need to change the way we relate to the mind.
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