This is from an email newsletter from Richard Sutphen. It pretty much sums up "our stuff" in a nutshell. If we could all learn to accept this premise we would be so much happier. I've been working on this for over 15 years and although I'm getting better it's still hard to make yourself accept the reality of it. It takes daily practice.
I just traveled with my husband and he was constantly upset by how things were being done in the different airports. Even though his anger wasn't going to change anything, he insisted on being angry. Now what purpose did that serve? I could agree with him that the airports weren't very organized, but being angry with him wasn't going to change that. So I just let him rant and get himself all worked up. It was one of those moments that made this principal very clear.
HUMAN POTENTIAL: The Cause of Suffering
We learn fastest through pain. It’s what karma is all about. If you were to get punched in the nose every time you walked through a yellow door, eventually (if you have any sense) you'll learn to stop walking through yellow doors. If you burn your finger every time you touch a hot stove, eventually you'll learn to stop touching hot stoves. If you make yourself miserable for years (or lifetimes) when other people don't live up to your expectations, eventually you'll learn that it's your expectations -- not other people -- that are making you miserable.
When your expectations are in conflict with what is, you resist what is and become upset.
The following are some Bushido seminar dialogues form our recording files that explore the concept from different perspectives. In the seminar, if people want to interact, a runner brings them a microphone and the dialogue can be heard by the rest of the audience.
"Just because I resist my boss doesn't mean that I'm losing the game," said Judy, a conservatively dressed woman in her mid-thirties.
"It does if you're being passed over for promotion," I replied.
"But my boss is an idiot."
"And he's your boss. That's what is. I don't think you're going to change that unless you quit."
But it's ridiculous. You can’t imagine how bad this guy is," she said, twisting the microphone cable for emphasis.
"Judy, what is, is that he's your boss. He probably won't recommend you for a raise or a promotion. Your expectations are the problem."
“Damned right they are. I expect him not to be an asshole.”
“But what is, is that he’s an asshole.”
“Well, it’s time he changed,” she said, frowning at me.
“Is that realistic?”
“Well, we know what you’ve lost as a result of your resistance. What have you gained or will you gain?”
She paused and looked up the ceiling, then down at the floor. “Nothing, I guess.”
“You get to be right about your boss being an asshole, but you lose the game. That doesn’t work, does it? Wouldn’t it be smarter to win the game.”
“But he’s an asshole.”
“JUDY! BE LOGICAL. GET IT.”
“I get it, but I don’t like it. It’s not fair.
“Where does it say life’s supposed to be fair?”
“If I accept your self-actualized ideas, I wouldn’t have anything left to talk about.”
“Wrong, you wouldn’t have anything left to gripe about.
“Are you saying you have to accept total responsibility for your feelings?” James asked. In his late forties, he was very distinguished looking, dressed in slacks, a white shirt, red tie and dark-blue blazer.
“Yes,” I said.
“Okay, I was recently divorced and my ex-wife put me through the wringer. Doesn’t she share some responsibility for the negativity I experienced?”
“She didn’t live up to your expectations of how a dear, departing wife should act?”
“Oh, come on,” he snapped
“You want to blame her?” Before he could respond, I said, “Blame is self-pity.”
“All I am saying is I’m not a hundred percent responsible for my feelings.”
“This is a cliché, James, but I’ll say it anyway. Short of physical violence, it isn’t what someone says to you or does to you that affects you, it’s what you add to it. It’s what you think about what they said or did that affects you.”
“Her getting the house and newer car affected me.”
“Yes, really.” He was beginning to get very upset.
“This is a community property state. Didn’t you get your half?”
“Yes, but not the house and car. That affected me.”
“You chose to let it affect you. What did you get?”
“Our investments and the second car.”
“And you couldn’t sell the investments and buy another house?”
He crossed his arms and did not respond.
“James, when a married couple gets divorced in California, each person gets half. That’s what is. Your resistance to what is upsets you. You don’t like the feelings the upset generates and you want your ex-wife to share the responsibility. Isn’t that about it?”
“You certainly have a way of twisting everything around.”
“Yeah. Logic is a bitch.”