March 17, 2020

Don’t be Self-Centered. We are All in this Together.

“Why is this happening to me?”

I know we’ve all asked this a hundred times, at least, over the course of our lives. It’s the first question that comes to our minds when something undesirable happens.

And undesirable things happen all the time because our expectations rarely meet reality. We lose that job, we lose someone to death, we separate from our one truest love, our friends leave, our financial life might become a mess, our pet dies, we might be diagnosed with a terminal illness, and so on.

Regardless of the hostility of the situation, our reaction is often self-centered. We feel like a victim of circumstance when a hostile event happens, and we fail to look beyond the horizon.

I know how challenging it is to not feel like a casualty. How can I remove the arrow stuck in my body when it’s obviously pointed at me? I had to go through a whole lot of suffering and rumination on this topic to finally realize how wrong I’ve been.

After shedding layers upon layers of my ego, I’ve understood that the arrow isn’t solely directed at me. I looked around, and I saw millions of arrows hitting everyone. I’m not alone in my suffering, and life isn’t conspiring against me.

All I had to do all along was to change my perspective. This is not happening to me—it just happens. Life has nothing against me. If anything, whatever life has in store for me, it’s for my own good.

I can’t say that I’m perfectly okay with bad situations in my life now. However, I wholeheartedly believe that I can reshape them in my head. All sorts of conditions are prone to happen so they would serve the purpose of my existence: duality. In the Chinese culture, they refer to this as the yin and yang—bad and good, male and female, dark and light, and so on.

Both opposites are interconnected, and together they form wholeness. As a human being, I can’t accept one side and deny the other. I need to accept both and work on adjusting my perspectives in-between.

Problems undeniably make us suffer. But we increase our suffering, every single time, by the way we look at the problem. When we think that this is only happening to us, we become blocked. We won’t see the lessons, the way out, or the new direction we’re supposed to take.

In order to extend our vision and stop seeing our problems as personal, we need to look around. This practice has greatly helped me to realize the truth of life.

I constantly look at nature and observe its seasons. Not once have I seen a tree saying, “Why is this happening to me?” when it loses its leaves.

Nature dies for a few months, but it grows back again. The same life force that flows in the universe also flows within me. We all go through unpleasant situations, but each manifests in a different way.

Another helpful way is to stand somewhere where you can see bigger things around you. Stand on your balcony, go down to the beach, climb on to a roof. Look at yourself, then look at your surrounding. Ruminate on how the universe is large and how small we are. All of a sudden, the problems we think are immense won’t matter that much anymore.

Look at the houses and places around you as well. Try to count the number of people inside them. Remember that every one of them has a problem that is similar to yours. Visualize the entire world and understand that problems are part of our existence.

We all have the same stories; we only need to trust that we’re in this together.

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