Dying Daily #160: Suffering Seeks to Cause Suffering

Nothing has the capacity to disrupt our lives and happiness and peace and contentment more than other people.

They are disloyal, rude, ungrateful, selfish, mean, sarcastic, and they text and drive. They will spit in your face after you help them, they will rob you and cheat you and will think of themselves first. Other people will mess up your plans, they will judge you and break your heart.

This is all true.

And none of it has anything to do with you.

None of it is an excuse for you to behave poorly.

It’s not even an excuse to feel badly or pout or mope.

It makes sense when you think about it. Why should another person’s behavior be allowed to control how you feel or act? Why should something you have no control over be allowed to impact you internally?

We’ve talked before about outsourcing your happiness and contentment, about how this is suicidal because you are putting your internal state into the hands of things you have no control over. We know by now that the mindful approach to this tells us to simply allow ourselves to experience what we are feeling without judgment, to offer ourselves compassion in our suffering, to simply let everything come and go, without attachment or rejection.

Here is an even more important question though: why are we surprised?

Are we new here?

People act poorly all the time, they mistreat and betray and judge all the time. None of this should be surprising. It should not catch us off guard.

So, if other people’s behavior should not change ours, if it should not surprise us and it should not disturb our peace, what should it do?

It should inspire compassion, especially the bad behavior.

It is unpleasant to be selfish and rude and destructive to others. It is miserable to live with such fear that we judge others because of how they look or what they believe or because they are different from us. No one likes to be selfish or shady or untrustworthy or mean.

These are all behaviors born of suffering.

I know, I know. We all want to assign to motives and reasons that force the other to take responsibility for themselves.

This isn’t about saying people cannot control what they do, but no one seeks to cause another person to suffer unless they are suffering themselves. We may not want to accept this idea, but if you spend some time exploring it, you will find it to be true.

Accept that other people will treat you poorly today, accept that they do this because they are suffering.

Their behavior is their behavior.

Let it stay there.