3 life lessons from Buddhist Pema Chödrön

When someone finally sits you down and tells it like it is, it can be a hard pill to swallow.

But if you want to really enjoy life, you need to get to the nitty gritty fast and cut the crap out of your life so you can spend time on the things that matter to you.

Modern day master Buddhist Pema Chödrön has wrote countless books on how to do exactly that using mindfulness techniques such as letting go, acceptance and meditation.

Below we go over some of her most potent lessons on overcoming stress, fear and anxiety so we can live a fulfilling and happy life.

1) Negative emotions are the perfect teachers

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” – Pema Chödrön

So many of us hide from negative emotions. We feel like we have to be positive 24/7. The truth is, we don’t. As Chodron says, negative emotions are important in teaching us more about ourselves and the lives we’re living.

Science backs this up. New research shows that experiencing and accepting emotions like anger and sadness are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.

So the next time a negative emotion comes up, try to see if you can acknowledge and accept it.

It also might be a vital clue that a health issue, relationship or other important matter needs attention.

2) Fear only exists in your mind

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ” – Pema Chödrön

This story makes a great point.

We all experience fear. You can’t necessarily control your emotions, but you can control how you react to your emotions.

So many of us try to avoid the feeling of fear, but that reaction means that fear is controlling your reactions.

Instead, we need to accept and acknowledge our emotions, and then bring our focus back to the present moment so we can proceed with whatever we need to do.

3) We need to stop blaming others

“We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who’s right and who’s wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don’t like about our associates or our society.

It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others….Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.” – Pema Chödrön

We all like to find a cause for why things aren’t turning out the way we like. By doing so, we look to outside factors to let ourselves off the hook. However, it’s more fruitful to take responsibility for our own lives than get lost in the negativity of blaming others.

Knowing we can accept responsibility when things go wrong means we can also accept credit when things go well. We do, as individuals, have an effect on life; and that’s a good thing.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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