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The Secret to Staying "Cool"

Key Lesson: Spiritually speaking, here's the secret to staying "cool" no matter what happens: if you smell smoke and see a flame, remember there is no one to blame: only you can prevent setting yourself on fire!

Break Free of All Painful Patterns

When we're in pain most of us will do whatever seems necessary to bring relief. Almost any behavior can be justified when pain pushes us far enough, but we need not, and must not, handle it as we've always been directed to in the past. What we do need is to grow in our understanding of it.

There are many things that have happened and that are happening in this world that are, at best, difficult to deal with. There's no question about it: human beings often do awful things to each other. Certainly, compassion is in terribly short supply. But the key point for our inner work is that events -- in themselves -- do not have the power to make us suffer. It is our reaction that throws us, unaware, into the world of our unenlightened selves.

As difficult as it may be, we must begin to doubt our own suffering. This new action may seem impossible at first because our pain can feel so real. But, if we'll put ourselves on the side of wanting and working to see what is the actual truth of our situation, our gradually deepening perception will show us how to see through that suffering straight to the heart of its shadowy cause.

For example, when we fight with the person we blame for our discomfort, all we do is increase our anguish which, in turn, strengthens our belief in that person as being our punisher. If instead we turn our attention back on ourselves, we can start to question this habitual view of our situation. Now, instead of just accepting stock answers as to why we must ache, we can ask new questions about the necessity of that conflict. For instance, what is it about us that is vulnerable to being hurt by anything someone else does? With just this one question in mind, that person's action is no longer the issue. The issue is what is happening within us.

This article is excerpted from Who Put That Stone In My Shoe?.

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