In this article I would like to talk about what I believe is THE most important concept that one can understand in life. It is very simple, self-evident, and at the same time incredibly empowering. Yet, it is largely overlooked.
Here is the principle: nothing in the world has the power to upset you. Nothing upset you, you always upset yourself on the occasion of something. Reality is never upsetting. The very concept of “being upset” is a creation of our mind, as any other concept.
You can try it yourself! Look for any situation in your life where you get upset and see if it is reality that has a problem or if it is you!
Why do we get upset?
Because we don’t see reality as it is!
We get upset because we have an idea of how the world should be. We would like the world to be the way we want. Why should it be? We mistake fiction for reality. We project ourselves in the future and fantasize. Then, when reality clashes with our expectations or delusions – and it will happen – of course we cannot help to get upset. However, at no point was reality upsetting. We were simply deluding ourselves.
Similarly, we want to control our family, our friends or our colleagues so that they behave in a certain way that suits us. When they are acting in an unexpected way, we get upset. Why? Because of the gap between the image we have of them and their action. But again, we are mistaking our version of reality for reality. We are no seeing them as they are but through a certain image we created of them in our mind. People are much more than we believe they are. However, our mind reduces reality to concepts and people and things to images in order to comprehend and interprete the world.
In reality, we never really know people. We just make hypothesis out of our experience interacting with them and refine it over time to come up with a certain preconceived image that satisfy our mind’s desire to know. Someone you believe you know very well does something surprising or something that upset you and suddenly you think “It doesn’t look like him or her”. How do you know? The reality is: it doesn’t look like the image you have of him or her!
Sadly, the image that people have of us is often what prevents us from being truly ourselves. People around us want us to behave in a certain way that corresponds to the image they have of us. They generally don’t want us to be free or to be ourselves because then, they would have no control over us. By fear of being disapproved of or rejected, we end up playing along and act as people around us want us to act.
We want people to see us in a certain way. Why should they? We have a certain image of ourselves and we would like others to perceive us in a similar way. However, that is not possible. Our self-image is a pure construction of the mind. It is simply our own interpretation of our past memories. We consciously or unconsciously selected certain thoughts from the past and created a story out of them; they became deep beliefs and eventually came to shape our identity. In fact, our current self-image is only one possible image amount an infinity of possibilities. Then, how could people see you as you see yourself!
In a similar way, other people have a certain self-image and their vision of the world is greatly biased too. As a result, they cannot help but project their own perception of the world (bias) on their preconceived image of you (bias). No matter how you try to control your self-image, nobody will ever see you as you want him or her to. The best thing to do is probably to be yourself and to let people see you as they want to.
“Nothing upset you” is not a cliché
The fact that nothing can upset us is not just a cliché to help you cheer up a little bit. It is something that should be meditated on again and again. This simple truth is, in fact, one of the most powerful compasses for your personal growth. Taken seriously, it will give you tremendous opportunities to grow.
For me, each negative feeling offers a great opportunity for growth because it reflects certain beliefs I have. If I get upset it means that I’m seeing a situation through a certain filter of reality. What is this filter made of? Beliefs! Beliefs are always a distortion of reality. Reality simply is and doesn’t need any belief to exist. When you catch yourself getting upset about something, you can ask yourself the following questions: how am I distorting reality here? What is the belief that leads me to upset myself? By repeatedly doing this, you will become more and more self-aware. Your false beliefs will gradually fall away and you will get closer and closer to reality.
For example, can the following situations be said to be upsetting?
- Does the rain is upsetting in itself or do I upset myself because of it?
- Is someone’s criticism upsetting in itself or do I upset myself?
- Is losing my job upsetting in itself?
All sufferings in the world come from people’s projection of their own “reality”. However, reality doesn’t give a damn about your projection. It simply is. The sooner you realize it the better. Nothing has ever upset you and nothing ever will. The question is: are you really willing to embrace that reality? Are you willing to put it to the test relentlessly and see through your conditioning? It’s up to you 😉
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