No matter how much you try to live a peaceful and meaningful life, there are always people around you who challenge your ability to sustain that peace. Parents, friends, teachers, bosses, partners, strangers, people who care about you, and people who don’t seem to care about you, are all struggling to find peace in their own lives. When those around you are having difficulty connecting with peace, they will directly or indirectly, intentionally or accidentally, challenge your peace and cause you to suffer. When the way somebody else behaves causes you to suffer, you can use your awareness of that cause to get through your suffering.
When the cause of your suffering is something you are doing, it seems more possible to change your own behavior. When the cause of your suffering is what other people are doing, all you can change is your reaction. The ability to change your reaction is powerful. By changing your reaction, you can connect with the suffering in you and in others, and you won’t be swallowed up by it.
To gain control of your reactions, begin by noticing your reactions. If somebody is making you angry, recognize that you are becoming angry in reaction to what that person is doing. When you recognize that, you can take control. You can question your anger and see that it is one of a range of possible reactions, not the only option. As you practice this, you will learn to use your anger, or other reactive feelings, to look beneath the surface to the suffering that is happening in each person in the situation.
Nobody can make you feel anything. Your feelings are yours. If a tree makes you suffer, you don’t blame the tree. If you are suffering, you need some understanding. You have that understanding within you. When you practice meeting suffering with awareness and understanding, you can transform any situation and find the peace you are seeking.