Dealing with personal difficulties


There are times when we can get upset / angry with the behaviour of someone else. How to respond? Philosophy is easy, but the practical implementation is more difficult. The only certainty is that we will get plenty of opportunities to practise!

There was a recent occasion where I felt annoyed, I didn’t like the feeling of rising anger so sat down and read a book of short poems. Picking a couple at random, the first I came across where.

“From now on please try, all of you, to perfect your own nature instead of looking around to see who is obstructing you or standing in your way.”

– Sri Chinmoy [1]

It was a beautiful irony I picked this one first. Because all my unhappiness was due to feeling obstructed by someone else!

The second was:

“You have had an unpleasant experience, and you will not be happy until you stop thinking about it.”

– Sri Chinmoy [2]

The third was:

“Everything in life is a choice.”

– Sri Chinmoy [3]

Just reading these three poems was an excellent antidote and immediately took away the worst of my negative emotion. In that situation, I couldn’t think of anything better to calm myself down.

It also left a good incentive to try and implement the first aphorism to work on myself and change the way of reacting to certain situations.

These are a few steps to dealing with difficulties.

Firstly, being aware something is wrong with our mental equilibrium and wishing to do something about it. When we are under the influence of anger, it is an unpleasant feeling, if we are aware something is wrong, it is the first step to changing.

Reading some of your favourite spiritual teachings is a very good way of challenging the wrong thoughts, and resetting the mind. It is very hard to resolve a problem by thinking about it, but here reading played the role of a strong friend who helped give a very different perspective.

Don’t feel guilty about these kind of reactions. Adding guilt only makes the problem harder. A gentle acceptance that these things happen, makes it easier to work through.

Second chance

Many of life’s problems have an inevitable habit of repeating themselves. We can see this as a real pain or an alternative to learn how to deal with them. Because you can expect the same issue to come up again – when we are in a good frame of mind we can plan how we would like to respond to this same issue.

This is very helpful because in many occasions, we can respond on some instinct, the same emotion and negative feeling comes to the surface. But, if we try to visualise and create a more positive reaction, we can be ready to deal with the issue in the correct way.

What outcome do we want? When we are planning for dealing with the recurrence of the issue we have to be realistic that waiting for the correct outer circumstance (relying on other people to change) will never happen. However, although we cannot deal with all outer imperfection, we can, at least, try to change our inner nature. There is huge strength to be gained by being detached, despite outer circumstances not being favourable.

An unexpected benefit

When we are in a negative frame of mind and angry, it is very difficult to create any improved situation. If we speak in this mood, the outcome will rarely be positive. However, if we are more detached and positive, it becomes much easier to speak in a way which works towards a solution rather than adding fuel to the fire.

The advantage of planning how to react and keeping a lid on emotions, means that we have the confidence to speak in a good way, which helps improve.

Personal lessons from this experience

  • When things go wrong, try to step off that particular train of thoughts.
  • The solution is rarely to think it through. Far better something completely different, get out of that environment. Walk quickly or read a book. Then when you have more mental equilibrium, meditate, clear the mind and try to visualise a better future response.
  • Don’t feel bad, it is human nature to deal with these kind of emotions, but at the same time, if you’re not happy with this experience, it is a sign we need to transform these thought habits and emotions into something more positive.

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