We want things to change. This wish, in itself, is like believing that being anxious about whether the sun rises or not will help it to do so. Life is change. But we also want it to get better, which means to change according to our own notions of success. So, we try to control what happens, believing that the tension this causes between life and our ideas about it is what it means to feel responsible. There is something misplaced in this mixture of life and our longings that grows unseen. The reason we strain as we do to carry this daily load is because we believe it is what's required of us to create a real self.
However, for all our struggle, no permanent self appears; only a kind of peculiar suffering manifests itself again and again, giving us an unwanted sense that its permanence may be all there is to life. The only self that finds this sad state of affairs to its liking is an intimate enemy . . . because its idea of permanence means having something to struggle with permanently! When we try to change life in response to the prodding of this false self, the results are self-formational.
All self-formational changes are awkward and temporary at best, because they are not rooted in reality. The struggle we undergo to bring them about is not only painful in itself, but causes additional suffering, as when our false sense of responsibility causes us not only to interfere with our own lives, but with those of others around us. Wrongly believing that the way someone else behaves is our responsibility not only makes us suffer, but that person as well when we try to meddle with his or her life. Our growing awareness of our mistake causes us to become disenchanted with the self-formational approach to living, and we begin to seek the transformational life instead.
Wouldn't you like to just let go? To release once and for all that recurring feeling that you're just not making it? Or, how about the weight of fearing what others think of you? Your concern for the future? Wouldn't it be wonderful to just drop the burden of feeling responsible for the outcome of every event? To just walk away? Yes. It is possible to live this lightly.
As we recognize the futility of trying to force ourselves and our lives into what we think they should be, we also begin to understand that all of our suffering for what we perceive as "coming up short" in life is self-inflicted. What we once mistook for being responsible to our future now shows itself to be only an unconscious punishment in the present. Our findings don't mean that we don't take necessary practical actions for our well-being, or that we are not decent to others. It means that we let go of feeling responsible for the future as though we must control its outcome. We realize that there is no way that our painful concern can positively affect any outcome, so we drop that concern. Bit by bit, we begin to hear what real life has been trying to tell us all along.