A man comes to see a doctor, takes a seat and starts hitting his knee with his fingers. After a while, the patient says: “Doctor, it hurts when I’m hitting my knee like this!” The doctor replies: “Didn’t it occur to you that once you stop, it will not hurt?” “Well…,” the patients thinks for a while and says: “But what would be the purpose of my visit here then?”
People try to solve problems that do not exist, telling stories that have never happened and looking for solutions they don’t need. Below are the 10 problems which do not exist but which most people have. Although they don’t have to have them.
1. What will others think of me?
You don’t know and won’t know in ninety-nine percent of cases, as you do not have tel-epathic power and you have no influence on what other people think. Dealing with mat-ters which are beyond your control and which make your frustrated for the very reason that you can’t control them rather than because of the actual suffering caused by such matters.
For example, you imagine what your colleague thinks of you, although you see or meet him or her once a week at best, there is not deeper relationship between you and him or her and, in fact, you don’t really care about him or her. We could paraphrase Pareto’s principle that 20 percent of your staff will cause 80 percent of your income by saying that 1% of the people in your life are responsible for 99% of your negative emotions. What is more, the projection mechanism is involved: you imagine what others think of us, not realizing that this is actually what you think of yourself. It has been proved that if you are fearful, you find others more dangerous that they actually are and if you are submissive, you find others more domineering than they actually are. This means that what you’re actually doing is talking to yourself while blaming others for it.
What others think of you is not your problem and you can control it to a lim-ited extent only. However, by trying to make others think well of you, you sometimes betray yourself and lose something much more important, namely what you think of yourself. And this is something you can control.
2. Will others accept me?
Probably not, especially if you do something that is far from what is generally consid-ered as normal. Trying to impress others, to find acceptance or love or to win someone will lead you nowhere, causing you to lose concentration and betray your ideals.
The world of full of different people. Some of them are particularly resistant to change, so expecting acceptance from a person who is focused on their own beliefs only is a waste of time and energy. There will also be people saying that you are not the kind of person they think you should be and want to change you so that you fit in their idea of you.
Husbands trying to change their wives or wives trying to tame their husbands’ person-alities – this often leads to conformism and to living your life against your outlook on life. By wanting other people to like you, you subconsciously become an ordinary and average person. The problem is that a person without a distinct personality will not be remembered. If you focus on the things you have to do in your life, you stop playing the role of the “green dollar” that all other people should like and you start building your own way of life based on your heart and intuition. Additionally, if your actions are in conflict with the cultural mainstream, you should be prepared for general criticism, which is something you can’t control.
3. My partner is not the kind of person I imagined him or her to be.
Well, he or she will never be so. After all, that is most probably not the reason what you decided to be with him or her. It is these differences between you and your partner that encourage your development and, without them, you would get bored in the sphere of stabilisation.
Attempts to change your partner so that he or she is the kind of person you imagine him or her to be will, in most cases, lead to one of two situations. One is, unfortunately, when you achieve your goal. In this case, your partner changes himself or herself under the pressure of your demands and, in most cases, against his or her own will, so he or she no longer respects himself or herself and is longer an attractive challenge for you.
The other situation is conflict, because your partner’s ego changed in your way feels rejected and attacked, thus activating defence mechanisms. Such changes are, at a cer-tain level, an act of violence against your partner’s sense of acceptance and causes him or her to feel that he or she does fit in with your idea of the perfect partner. That con-cept is, however, often idealised and inspired by stories of a romantic prince from a fairy tale, told by grandmothers disappointed with their husbands, or inspired by the expectation that your partner will love you just as your father loves you. However, if you look at it through the eyes of a parent, no man will love his woman the way she is loved by her father, the one who changed her nappies when she was a baby and the one who idealised her unconditionally. Similarly, no wife will ever win over her mother-in-law if the latter’s image of her son is distorted. It is more mature to understand that people change themselves when they see us as an example of a change of the way they think and act in order to think and act differently, i.e. more effectively.
4. I can’t understand why someone did it.
You can’t understand it because you have no access to the motives behind other peo-ple’s actions, their personal stories, beliefs, ways of thinking and acting. If you don’t something yourself, you are not likely to find out why someone else should do it, espe-cially if doing it is against your own outlook on life Serial killers, such as Henry Lee Lu-cas, blame their murders on their wrong upbringing. Others (such as Jeffrey Dahmer) blame their acts on the “lack” of a specific part of themselves or on the time spent in prison (Carl Panzram). Post hoc rationalisation enables your mind to invent any convinc-ing story that will serve as an explanation of your action (For example, trying to explain yourself why you are buying something you don’t really need), although you are hardly ever aware of the process and, more often than not, other people cannot understand the explanation. The case is the same with telling lies. Every liar has a perfectly convincing explanation of his lying, and even if he or she himself/herself is critical of it, he or she will still find lying more beneficial that telling the truth. What is the conclusion? You do not always understand why someone did something. Well, you don’t need to. It is enough if you come to terms with the facts and respond to them without judging them.
5. I am not the kind of person I should be.
What is more, you will most probably never be that kind of person, but is it really a problem? The process of human evolution is not over yet, and the more ambitious you are, the greater the discrepancy between the kind of person you think you can be and the kind of person you still are. Success is accompanied by bigger problems and greater demons to win over. The wiser you are, the more you feel that stupidity hurts (it never hurts if you are stupid, because you can realise it only if you’re wise). The better you know your potential, the less likely you are to tolerate laziness and putting off the pursuit of your goals. Critical remarks against the ideal image of yourself (per-fectionism) only confirm that “the maximum is not the optimum” – the fact that you can go as fast as 250 km/h does not mean that you should always drive at that speed. The weather, for example, can make you slow down to 40 km/h and if this is the optimum speed, it will be the most effective thing to do at that time.
Especially nowadays, when the value of a person is based on the person’s achievements (diplomas, money or skills), it is easy to fall into the trap of rejecting yourself and ha-bitually thinking that “I have not yet reached the point that I can reach.” Such success is toxic. You will find it helpful to believe that “I am OK and I can be better”.
6. The world is bad.
This belief will make you feel frustrated, as it is based on cognitive dissonance, or the difference between how you expect things to be and how things are now. The world is what it is. The humankind is, as always, at a certain stage of developing its awareness, and – depending on the point of reference, it is either developed or primitive. Looking from the perspective of the worldviews of today, the medieval practice of drowning women for their alleged witchery was primitive. Similarly, the future generations will not be able to believe that we once determined our value as people based on the number of things in our possession or that we identified with our thoughts. The moral decompo-sition of the world, most often religiously or culturally motivated, into “good” and “bad” leads to extreme views and lack of acceptance of a certain order and course of things, one that is typical of the evolution of every species at each stage of its development. What was good in the past does not necessarily have to be so now, and what is good for me will not necessarily be good for you. The amount of what is bad is always proportionate to the amount of what is good, and life is much easier if you base your life less on extreme views that on facts and if your actions are adequate.
7. I can avoid problems.
You can’t, because problems are caused more often by your brain that by the outside world. After all, you can’t escape from yourself. There is no such stimulus in the world which could kill, but a person motivated by his or her own ideas or concepts is even able to take his or her own life. For example, although the risk of dying in a place crash 11 million to 1, the risk of being killed by a shark is 3.7 million to 1, and the risk of dying in a car crash is 5000 to 1, more people are afraid of flying than of travelling by car. Problems are always more dangerous in your imagination and in reality, and avoiding them will give you more trouble than facing them. The strategy of losing benefits to eliminate problems (e.g. I am not going to travel by plane not to lose my life) doesn’t work, and the number of problems in life is always the same. The poor grumble they have no money, while the rich are afraid they might lose it. A Brazilian female model has more complexes than a toothless man whose home is Warsaw’s main railway station, but the quality of her life is incomparably greater. No matter how rich or poor you are, the number of problems in your life will always be proportionate to the number of benefits. It is much more important how you perceive your own life situa-tion.
8. Others irritate me.
It is not others, but your belief that they should be this or that, i.e. the kind of people you imagine them to be, that you are irritated by. Mental remarks such as “if only X could change” will lead you to nowhere, because X will not change or will be replaced by someone else (Y) who will behave in a similar way. Even if we look at things statistically, it is easier to change the world than to change yourself. It is not others that are respon-sible for your emotional reactions, because it is your judgements of their actions that generate certain experiences. One person be frustrated by the crying of a child, another will take it easily (as he or she believe that it is normal for children at this or that age to cry), and yet another will feel proud that his or her child is able to express his or her own opinion. Instead of saying: “X irritates me”, say “My interpretation of his behaviour irritates me”, and you will be able to control things again. In their fortune-telling, the Jews say: Do not be the outcome of the world’ activity, but the cause of that activity. This will let you get back a sense of control that will give you a sense of re-sponsibility.
9. My life does not meet my expectations.
And it will never do, unless you take care of it. Complaining, grumbling, blaming others for your failures or blaming politicians for managing your country in the wrong way or bearing grudges against your boss because your pay is low or against God for your bad luck in life, or against your parents for your wrong upbringing – all this will lead you to lack of responsibility for your own life. If you don’t like the politicians in charge of your country, set up your own political party. If your pay is too low, get a new job. If you don’t like your country, leave it, etc. You are the only person responsible for your life, and if you have not realised this fact yet, there are very few people in the world who really care about your life. Your immediate relatives do, but all the other people living on this planet will think of you as an unknown class (a male, a Pole, an old man etc.). Unless you take your life in your hands, others will manage it. Never regret trying something and not doing it the right way, but rather not trying something although you know that you could have or should have tried it.
10. Why did it happen to me?
Why did it happen to me? Why has my wife left me? Why have I come down with cancer? Well, in which model of the world would you to like these questions to be answered? If it is the Buddhist way, it is all determined by what kind of person you were in your previ-ous incarnation and that is your karma. Is it the Catholic way? Well, that is what God wants for you. The intellectual way? Because this is the effect of a certain cause. Deal with the things you can control and leave the rest for Tao/God/karma/destiny. The truth is that certain things are beyond your control and you don’t have any idea why certain situations or events happen (e.g. the unfortunately flight number 370 by the Malaysian plane). Perhaps one day you will get the answer or not, but before you do, you can’t control certain situations. If you give up you sense of opposition and the willingness to control things, you will be able to adapt to new situations more quickly and take adequate actions for the future.
Well, so what pills should I take for the pain to stop?” the patient continues.
The doctor didn’t say anything for a while, as he remembered a joke his colleague had once told him. A patient complaining about pain in his eye comes to see an eye doctor. The patient has been given all the best possible tests, including a CT scan of his brain, but everything was all right. All that took a few months, cost the patient a huge amount of money and made the doctors spend plenty of time trying to identify the cause. Dur-ing one of the patient’s visits, the doctor came up with something… He saw the patient drinking tea with a teaspoon in his glass.
“There is nothing wrong with your eye, sir. May you live a healthy life!”