Last week I had the realization that most of our problems---past and present, large and small---are the result of humanity's tendency to struggle. Of course this is understandable, given the whole survival drama, but I can't help noticing that even when we're safe, well-fed, and physically comfortable, most of us still struggle as if we're sumo wrestlers. We argue with reality, defend our opinions, fight nature, resist aging, battle with food, wage war on illness, protest perceived injustices, reject love (....and then chase rejection!) Many of us constantly do things the hard way, and then complain about how difficult life is.
Inner and Outer Conflict
I know you are not neurotic, but you might know someone who is :) I think of neurosis as being a constant struggle with the self: phobias, self-doubt, resentments, guilt, shame, self-punishment, perpetual tip-toeing, and always compensating for not being perfect. This is one of the worst kinds of struggle there is because it is self-imposed, and the battleground lies within.
Then there's the warrior mentality---the one who feels compelled to fight and control everything outside of his/her personal sphere.
But whether the battle is within or without, the struggle can be an exhausting waste of precious energy, and can be addictive.
What to do?
If you meditate regularly, are mellow by nature, or have succeeded in your efforts to conquer your demons and find inner peace, I commend you, because this is no small feat. If, on the other hand, you still battle with struggle, I suggest the following:
1. Face the realities of the human condition: everybody makes mistakes, there's very little you can actually control, aging is normal, life can be unfair, people you love are going to die, and eventually so will you. (Sorry to be blunt, but fighting reality is a losing proposition).
2. Try to adopt a stance of non-defensiveness. The bigger your ego, the more energy you are likely to put into validating and defending yourself and pursuading others that your ideas are right.
3. Challenge the puritan belief that says you have to work word and struggle for what you want and need, or that there are limited opportunities for success. If you look around you'll see that some people naturally manifest everything they need with ease and grace. You can too, especially if you get in the flow.
4. Forgiveness and acceptance are spiritual practices that can really take the edge off the tyranny of our egos. Fighting the form that life is taking and holding onto grudges only hurts you. Work for change if you like, but by accepting life and forgiving yourself and others whenever possible, you can find your inner calm.
Take good care, and have a peaceful week.