Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to Handle the Most Difficult Person(s) in Your Life

Self-reflection only works when you do it. It never works when you only ask others to do it. - stonepeace

It is a most ironic "illusion" that there are many difficult people in our lives out there, especially while the most difficult person is the most immediate but continually missed one. Now, who is this person so close yet so far? It is none other than you! No, not me, him or her, but you. (Of course, when I read "you" to myself, it refers to me!) Due to the deep-seated tendency to self-rationalise, the person least likely to admit one's mistakes could be oneself. We might think we have got most, if not all things right. But that's self-deception - especially when we are obviously unhappy. If we are so right in the way we see and handle everything, how could it be that we are not happy? Surely, if truth is totally on our side, there would naturally be happiness.

The ones who really make our lives difficult are us - because we choose to react negatively to those around us. Obviously, to react negatively to those neutral or positive to us is downright foolish. So is it not alright to react negatively to those difficult to us? It might be "natural" in terms of force of habit, but it doesn't make it wise or right. When we react negatively, we are hurting ourselves, when our intention is to hurt others. We will definitely succeed doing the first, while there is no guarantee for the latter. Ironic isn't it? Since the one being difficult is suffering, we should focus on being compassionate, not difficult! The truth is, psychologically, no one can hurt us, other than ourselves choosing to let ourselves be hurt. Just as we perceive it wrong for others to hurt us, it is first and foremost wrong to ourselves to hurt ourselves.

Our suffering can be related to our karma in many ways. First, it can be an effect of our past unwholesomeness. Second, it can be an instant effect of the present unwholesomeness of our reaction. Third, it can be a combination of the duo. In other words, at times, we aggravate and perpetuate our own suffering when we react unwholesomely to suffering. It's a vicious downward-spinning spiral. When we mindfully train to sever or reduce the second form of suffering, much suffering is reduced. In fact, when we master the art of not reacting negatively to suffering by realising the unsubstantial transience of suffering, whatever remaining suffering becomes powerless in making you unhappy. When you are less of a difficult person to yourself and others, your world "magically" has less difficult people – because your "difficulty" is the centre of it all.
-Shen Shi'an

One attached to personal delusions cannot be liberated by the impersonal truth. - stonepeace

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