How You’re Responsible for Your Own Suffering…

“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot.

When you realise that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.”

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

I had a dilemma recently that illustrates this thought perfectly- 

And I wanted to share it with you incase it’s a reminder you need too. 

So we have this neighbour whose- well, a bit of a sour lemon. 

Everyday at dawn and dusk, they walk a band of yappy dogs.

And every day, twice a day, their dogs would disappear into a cloud of dust as they hurled themselves towar our gate, ferociously barking and gnashing their teeth through the bars at ours. 

One morning, we end up exchanging words about it- as both dog parties were getting very aggressive. Long story short, they demanded we control our dogs when they walk past.

We asked if they’d adhere to the law and at least leash theirs when walking by on a public road.

Stalemate. 

The awkwardly neighbourly hellos descended into silences and scowls, and barely even bothering a recall anymore as their dogs made a beeline for the gate. Twice a day, every day. 

I began avoiding being anywhere near the house around the hours they would walk. Or if they showed up early, I’d bolt indoors, shoving my dogs inside the tiny house before they spotted them- the three of us breathlessly waiting till the last crunch of gravel faded away. 

It even extended to feeling extremely uncomfortable and getting panicky at having to go past their house anytime I wanted to go to town. 

And then spilled into the moments they were’nt even there- 

Like repeatedly checking the time leading up to their arrival, worrying about the tension, and letting it negatively impact upon myself.

The final straw came the evening the neighbour brought a group of strangers to the gate, and just stood there- muttering to them. 

Needless to say, my anxious mind went into overdrive. 

Somehow, I managed to stick my head out and alert them to the fact that someone was home- and watching… At which they quickly disbanded into two groups, and left. 

My heart pounding, breath shortening, vision blurring- I braced myself for a panic attack, when instead this quote popped into my head- well, a less eloquent version…

“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot.” 

And that’s when it hit me- every uncomfortable moment, feeling, thought I’d had over this- I’d blamed the neighbour. 

They were the reason I started getting anxious every day. They were the reason I felt scared to be home alone. They were the reason I suffered so. 

When that really wasn’t the case at all. 

I was making myself suffer. 

“When you realise that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace, and joy.”

I had allowed their actions- something which I couldn’t control, run the show on something that I could. Mine. 

Often, we get so caught up in the thoughts of how a person or situation made us feel, we end up blindly perpetuating the suffering all our own. 

So I stopped worrying. My dogs were on private land, they could do as they like. If the neighbor didn’t want to adhere to the law and have their dogs leashed on a public road- that was their prerogative. 

All I could do was make sure the fence was sound enough between them. 

By taking responsibility for myself- acknowledging that whilst it was okay to be angry, upset, and anxious, but not letting those emotions cloud me, allowed me to react in a way that brought me peace from the upset. 

And eventually, joy- with no more panic, and bonus joy of noticing the neighbour had begun steering the dogs away from the gate too! 

We all face situations in our lives that inspire the blame game. Sometimes, it really is something else’s fault- but until we’re ready to take responsibility for our own happiness toward the situation, there will always be something else to keep us stuck in our suffering. 

What about you- do you tend to place the power of your well-being into the hands of others? What steps could you take that represent you taking responsibility for your own happiness, right now? 

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