Many people these days are suffering badly, not from illness or poverty or other observable misfortunes, but from the creations of their own minds. The product of their minds cause more harm than any of the other bad things that can happen to them.
I have had a lot of experience of this kind of suffering, and I have overcome much of it, but there are still many things that keeps me in a self-created prison. I have always suffered from a neurotic predisposition. I used to get depressed easily, and was often very anxious as well. When I realized that I was the cause of all this, I was able to take control of my thinking habits and stop myself from falling back into depression.
During this process, I discovered that I had many deeply instilled beliefs about myself which were contributing to my unhappiness. One of those, and something I still struggle with, is the belief that I need to be ‘successful’, as otherwise I will be a disappointment. But a disappointment to whom? To my family? To my friends? To my self?
I seemed to have set up a high internal standard for myself, which is a problem. It is a problem because it makes me feel trapped. It makes me feel that career choices that tells me I’m successful in some way are the only acceptable choices, and makes me feel unable to leave jobs that I don’t like unless I have another respectable one lined up. And it affects not just career choices but in other aspects of my life too. I don’t know where this standard and belief came from or how long I’ve had it for. But I realize that if this standard is removed, I will feel far freer. There isn’t any good reason to keep it around, especially considering the amount of suffering it causes me. And because I’m aware of it, I can work on it.
By working on this problem, I learn to separate my personal identity, the core part of me that makes me me, from the false belief. And then the need to be better than others will no longer act on me in a compulsive manner.
This was just one example of how beliefs that were created early in our lives causing needless pain and suffering. But once we become aware of them, their hold over us weakens, and over time we can learn to choose things that makes us truly happy. As we free ourselves from our own prisons, we will become truly free to live our own lives.