The refusal to turn negative over disappointing experiences is the money with which you purchase higher life.”
– Vernon Howard
One day Socrates was walking down a street with some friends when a nobleman approached. As was customary, Socrates greeted him however the nobleman walked straight past, declining to return the courtesy. The friends of the philosopher were angry at the nobleman, but Socrates used the incident to teach a lesson.
“Suppose,” said Socrates, “you meet a man on the street with poorer clothing than your own? Would that make you angry? Why then are you angry at a man who has poorer mental habits than you possess?”
Have you noticed how touchy people are?
Have you noticed how touchy you are?
If any part of you just got irritated or resisted this idea, that is precisely what I’m talking about.
Another famous sage, Buddha, once discussed human anger with his disciples. He asked, “If a man offers you a gift which you do not accept, to whom does the gift belong?”
“To the man offering it.”
“If someone tries to give you anger, and you do not take it, who is left with the anger?”
“The person trying to give it.”
The truth is that the outer world has no power over you whatsoever.
To grasp this, it is important to understand the psychology of “identification.” To identify means to take something, anything at all, as being part of what you call “self.” You might identify as being “a happily married person,” or “a person with an exciting life,” “a powerful leader” or someone who “deserves respect.”
The problem is that when reality challenges your labels of yourself, which it always does, you get anxious and defensive.
When you are acting from a flattering self-image of being successful or friendly or powerful, you will find yourself in opposition with everyone else with the same images or with those who do not see you in the same way
A lack of labels or identities does not cause fear. It is just the reverse, labels cause fears. Every label is a weight that must be anxiously protected against all that seems to oppose it.
Become acutely aware of this dynamic within yourself and work to deeply understand identification. You will not drop your labels until you have clearly seen the price you pay for your fiction.
If you didn’t identify as successful, would you worry about failure?
If you didn’t identify as good, would you hide your bad?
If you didn’t identify as right, would you fear being wrong?
Don’t identify with anything. This is True Freedom.
“Labels are static, reality is always in flux.”