People have surrounded themselves with problems. There are problems like what to eat and what to wear. There are problems regarding how to get others to like you or how to get others to do what you want. There are problems about finding romantic partners. There are problems about deciding what to watch on TV. There are problems about how to raise children, and there are problems about how to succeed at your job. The number of problems in people’s lives can feel insurmountable, but fortunately, most of them don’t exist.
In a spiritual awakening blog post that I wrote some time ago, I talked about the problem of having no problems. When someone awakens or sincerely lets go into their divine presence, tons of these so-called problems vanish. But how can this be? They all seemed so real a minute ago. But as I said, many of them don’t really exist beyond your ego’s belief in them. However, some people are so used to making problems that they can turn having no problems into a problem itself. It’s truly insane.
Today I wanted to help you better understand how the ego makes problems, and while there are real difficulties human beings face in this world, those are far easier to face when we aren’t being crushed in a pile of fake problems at the same time.
Real problems exist independent of the ego. If you have to think it into existence, it isn’t real. Now to be sure, we can all collectively create problems out of nothing such as wars over borders. Borders don’t exist, but since enough people believe in them, they can be turned into a cause for war. It’s truly sad. However, real problems require no belief. If an earthquake tears a city apart, this is a real problem for the inhabitants of that town. There is a lot of very real physical pain and suffering. And while there are imaginary problems and attachments that can come up as well (such as not wanting to believe that an earthquake is happened), there is no doubt that an earthquake has placed people into a position of greater hardship and that some people have been hurt or killed. Those are real problems.
Other real problems are things like hunger, disease, and anything relating to physical health. Any time we are dealing with issues with the body, we are very likely dealing with real problems. Certainly, imaginary problems like achieving an ideal body type can create real problems too, but the point of today’s post is about snuffing out the fake problems so that we don’t create or exacerbate real problems. Additionally, this is an opportunity to look at your beliefs and issues that are trying to self-justify some of these outcomes as inevitable. “Well of course I’m hungry all the time. That’s just how it has to be so that I can achieve the body type I want.” See. An incorrect belief is creating a real problem, and the ego is quick to justify this pain. It’s crazy.
Identifying Your Beliefs
If you are new to the spiritual path, identifying your beliefs is a very important first step because they’re part of the source of your problems. They tell you how to view life, what is important, and what is not important. The more you can understand why you believe what you believe, the more you can make conscious choices to change. But when you don’t look at these hidden ideas, then you don’t know. That ignorance is one form of darkness, and in the darkness, your beliefs can make you do all kinds of things, some of which you may even believe are common sense. Here are a number of common beliefs people have, and many of these have hidden beliefs under them:
- I have to have a job to survive.
- I need to look pretty/be attractive.
- I need a romantic partner.
- I need to have a family.
- I need to have a better romantic partner or family than the one I have.
- I need people to like me.
- I have to do what my parents tell me to do.
- The world should be fair.
I encourage you to write down your beliefs. These should help you get started, and even if you currently agree with the belief, write it down anyway. Plenty of people will agree with the first belief that I wrote, but a job doesn’t ensure survival. Some jobs actually can cause more stress and detriment to someone’s survival. Think about first-responders and all the toxic situations they have to go into to rescue people. Their jobs (while extremely important to all of our communities) can be detrimental to survival. Additionally, there are a lot of ways we can be supported and nourished that do not include jobs. My point is NOT to say, “don’t work,” rather it is to show the limitations and inaccuracies of such a belief.
Noticing How You Create Problems
Any time you are getting upset about something or with someone see if you can take a few more deep breaths. See what the problem is. If you are in an argument with someone, then see if you can understand what it is you really want. Wanting someone to agree with you isn’t necessary for having a good conversation, but many people have that belief. Many kinds of beliefs are at work in conversations, Most people have certain ways that they want others to respond to them. If a friend isn’t responding the way you want, then your belief that they should respond differently may cause an argument or some kind of social friction. There is a tendency to try and change people’s behaviors, and this goes on a lot in human interactions. People keep trying to get what they want, although they may fully understand what those wants are. Beliefs commonly hide deeper wants and hidden pains. If someone feels a pain being exposed in a conversation, then they may try to manipulate the conversation to make it go some place else. The conversation has become the problem to your ego self.
This creation of problems in human interactions can go on in so many ways, It’s important that you do your part to understand your role in any uncomfortable conversations or conflicts. It is way too easy to blame others, which is what many people do. At the same time, there’s no need to self-berate for your role in creating a problem. It’s not that you’re bad; it’s that you are ignorant until you shine the light of your own awareness onto yourself.
How Others Create Problems for you
As I said, do your work first before blaming others, but it is certainly the case that others can create problems for you. Terrorist acts and wars can be inflicted on people who have done nothing wrong. The aggressors create a problem in their minds based off their beliefs and pain. Then they inflict it on others. Dysfunctional parents do this to their children all the time. Their inner pain may get projected onto a child who is having a tantrum, and then they beat or emotionally abuse their child. It is an all too common reality of this world. The parent may try to blame the child as the source of the problem, but a child is an innocent–still learning and growing. And so the parent’s belief that a tantrum is a problem requiring physical or emotional violence is the real problem that needs to be dealt with. Otherwise, the child is learning to be abusive when s/he is faced with a difficult situation. That’s how the cycles of pain and suffering continue.
Stepping out of ego Problems
There will always be issues that other human beings create for you (like a bad driver rear-ending your car or someone insulting you because they don’t like the color of your shirt), but you don’t have to create issues for yourself. There are enough real problems like disease or the decline of our bodies in old age that freeing ourselves of our imaginary problems is vital to living a more peaceful life. So here are some ways to look at this process of becoming free of your ego problems:
- Identify Pain and Beliefs. Until you know what you believe, you can’t do anything about the source of your problems. Identifying old pains–like a childhood trauma or key upsetting moments–is also vital.
- Notice Your Behaviors. These beliefs and old issues influence your behaviors in loads of ways. So take time to notice your behaviors around needing to be attractive, make lots of money, have people laugh at your jokes, and other beliefs. This will help you to understand how you’re co-creating situations with other people.
- Breathe. As always, breathing helps us to stay calm and clear. The sooner you can relax into your breath when your ego starts telling you a situation is a problem, the sooner you can re-write your behaviors as well as find and release the deeper issues that underlie your ego belief.
- Don’t Take the Bait. There are all kinds of ways things can trigger a response inside us to get upset and then think something is a problem. Don’t take the bait. If someone is rude to you, don’t take it personally. If the IRS (or the taxation collection agency in your country) sends a letter, take another deep breath. Some things may not turn out to be a problem after all if you remain at peace or neutral. Catching yourself before you get wrapped up in your ego’s thoughts can make the difference between creating a problem out of nothing or creating additional problems on top of whatever difficulty life has given you.
Ongoing Inner Work
Human beings are works in progress. Yes, we are also already perfect as we are, but that perfection tends to illuminate our work too. That is the nature of going inwards. The light of your inner clarity illuminates your issues and where you need to grow. For some of you, you don’t turn much of life into a problem, and so you probably find this particular issue relatively easy to work with. For others, you have a huge problem-solver ego, who wonders who s/he would be if there was nothing to problem-solve. Thus, where your specific path takes you is–as always–unique to you.
However, since there are still so many ways that we create problems out of nothing, I can only encourage you to see where you create issues with the world. Sometimes, we don’t actively create problems. Instead, we use avoidance as the means of creating a problem. Avoiding brushing your teeth regularly can lead to oral problems later. This is just one more of the thousands of ways we can create problems that do not need to exist. And while the point of this post isn’t about being free from difficulty in our human paths, there really are so many ways we can make life much easier on ourselves. So as you continue inwards and let go of more ego ideas, you very likely are to find a lot more ease in your life when you no longer are creating so many problems out of nothing.