From a very young age, we intuitively begin to push away things that are uncomfortable, and hold onto things we like. Buddha had a name for this - resisting and clinging.
But no one ever told us this would come back to bite us. No one told us there's a better way to live. In fact, very few people are even aware of this better way.
And that is the way that I explore in this blog.
For as long as we can remember, we've all dealt with experiences that made us uncomfortable (quite a few), and experiences that made us feel really good (not as many). In either case during our formative years, we somehow thought it was a good idea to reject the stuff that hurt by pushing it away with our willpower, kicking, screaming, and fighting so that we didn't have to fully experience it.
And when good things did happen, rather than just experiencing them and letting them pass through, we actually held onto those moments because we didn't want to lose them.
On first thought, this all seems pretty natural. After all, that's why we did it in the first place - because it felt natural. But if you understand the consequences of this instinctive behavior, you realize that the only reason you're not okay now is because of what you started when you were a child.
Why is this?
Imagine a toddler who has their very first encounter with a dog. It's a big, scary, aggressive dog that starts to bark at the young child who immediately gets uncomfortable. The barking lasts about 5 seconds before the dog runs away. But interestingly enough, the child is still upset.
In fact, minutes pass, and the child is still crying. What you don't see (but what is taking place under the surface) is the child imposing their willpower on that moment they just experienced, pushing away the pain because it was so uncomfortable. Rather than simply experiencing the dog barking, being startled for a few moments and then letting it go, the child couldn't handle the experience, so they pushed away the feelings. They suppressed the emotions.
From now on, the child needs to look for dogs everywhere they go. They get scared when they see a stuffed animal that looks like a dog. At random times throughout the day, thoughts about scary dogs come into their mind and they begin to feel how they felt weeks ago when the dog was barking.
Pretty soon, the child's whole life has become about avoiding dogs. Everybody they meet, every encounter they have, every situation they find themselves in, they better not see a dog. They don't know this though. They have no clue their life has just become about dogs.
The same thing happens when we enjoy something. Say that same toddler is given a piece of candy that tastes so good, so magical, that they're in complete bliss while eating it. Again, instead of just eating and enjoying it, for some reason the child feels the need to beg for more. Going forward, they look everywhere for candy and throw tantrums when they can't get it.
For you, it might've been a snake. For your mom, it might've been a scary uncle. It doesn't matter.
What matters is that we're bound to the garbage that we stored inside of us as children up until this day.
If you remember that the world around us has nothing to do with us, and that it is the result of 13.8 billion years of creation, you tell me - how is this child going to stand a chance at being happy if they're up against the universe? How are they going to control the world, and the people around them, so that they have as few dogs and as much candy as possible, at all times, for the rest of their life? How?
You see, we're all that child. And it's not just dogs and candy. It's thousands of things.
Our whole lives are devoted to trying to make the world come in, in such a way that it doesn't hit our stuff. We move to different cities, chase new jobs, end relationships, and do all kinds of crazy things, not because it's the right thing to do, but because we think it will make us happy. What we really need to do is let go of the stuff that's preventing us from being happy in the first place.
Stop searching for things out in the world, and instead start letting go of things in yourself.
Live with substance!