Why Don’t the Answers Answer My Questions?

Here is the deal: I can state a problem, hear and answer, and yet the answer often fails to help me with the problem. For example, consider the following quote:

It’s your thoughts and only yours that are making you feel terrible, you’re the only person in the world who can effectively persecute yourself. ~ Dr. David Burns, MD

Now if I’m persecuting myself, I now have an answer. It is my own mind making me feel like something greasy on a stick. I am persecuting myself, and therefore, if I want to stop hurting I just need to direct my mind to stop persecuting me, and to stop making me feel terrible.

Yet I continue to feel like crap. Knowing the answer is not the cure.

Why might the answers not be answers for me (or for you)?

I may not be ready for the answer. If you are cautious, suspicious, or just extra especially careful, then an answer won’t be accepted immediately after it presents itself.

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. ~Alfred Korzybski

We may not believe the answer is the answer. Why would you accept an answer that you think is wrong? You may be saying, “That answer might be right for other people, but not for me. Other people may be persecuting themselves, unjustly, but if I am persecuting myself it is because I’m a jerk, a loser, a person worthy of punishment.

Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions. ~Joan Didion

We may not see how the answer applies to us. I could be saying, “I’m not persecuting myself, and I’m not making myself feel terrible. It is this other person, or this other incident that is responsible for my pain and misery.”

The easiest person to deceive is one’s own self. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton

So what is the solution? Believe the answer. The obvious problem with this answer is that it is itself an answer, and therefore easy to discount, disregard, or disbelieve. How can you believe something you don’t believe?

What we see or what we hear is just a part, or a limited idea, of what we actually are. ~Shunryu Suzuki

Consider the answers that are difficult to accept:

No one can make me mad. If I am angry I made myself angry.

This doesn’t make sense. I thought it was other people doing stuff that make me mad. Or some accident, or criminal act, or act of god occurs and that occurrence is what makes me mad. In no way would these things mean that I am making myself mad, would it?.

I am the gatekeeper of my own happiness.

I thought happiness was my reaction to good stuff. If I were the gatekeeper of my own happiness that would imply that I am in control of when I am happy, that I can make myself happy. I can’t be happy just because I want to be happy, can I? If things go south, if I’m in an accident, if I’m sick, if bad stuff happens to people I love, if John McCain is elected President then happiness would be impossible, wouldn’t it?

Craving and desire are the source of all suffering.

If this were true it would mean that suffering was certain, continuous, and unavoidable. No one can live without craving and desire. If this were true, it would me to end suffering I would have to eliminate carving and desire from my mind and that is not possible, is it?

If the answers above are actually answers, then it is obvious that believing these answers can be difficult, and not believing them renders the answers ineffectual.

When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution. ~David Joseph Schwartz

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