Not allowing little resentments to fester in the mind

(I wrote this in September of 2010, but publishing it now since I find it very funny!)

For some reason, right now I am being made aware of all of the little things that annoy me slightly in life and how I have not really fully resolved my annoyance or frustration about these things, but just repressed them.  What happens is some little thing happens that annoys me.  It does not annoy me a lot, it is just a minor frustration.  For example, my Avira anti-virus software is free.  But the price of this ‘freeness’ is every day there is a pop up asking me to buy the real thing.  So every day I have to close it.  This represents a daily minor annoyance.  Of course this is no big deal at all, but every day my mind generates some mild frustration about it.  Since I just dismiss it, I don’t resolve the frustration in my mind.  Then every day, the same thing happens, and again I get mildly frustrated about it.  But because I never resolved the frustration in my mind, each day my frustration about it grows and grows.  Over time, these little things come to bother us more and more as our resentment grows towards them.  Eventually we start to have these completely exaggerated reactions to these very little things, and we are generating real anger about them.  This occurs because we are allowing these minor annoyances to accumulate in our mind, allowing them to fester.  If even the slightest delusion is allowed to remain un-resolved in our mind, it grows and grows like a weed until eventually it becomes a real delusion within our mind.  We cannot allow even the slightest delusion to arise in our mind without going unchecked.  We need to definitively take the time to resolve all delusions within our mind when they are in their slight and insignificant phase, otherwise they become more and more habits of our mind and thus harder to change.

There are countless examples of this within my mind.  Within the last 40 minutes, I have become aware of many of them!  First, the baby started crying at 4:00 in the morning.  Normally I get up to give the baby its pacifier so that it falls back asleep.  This bothers me a little bit to have to get up.  It also bothers me some that it is always me who does this, and not Claudine.  Then when I do get up, I can never find his pacifier in his bed.  It has gotten lost somewhere within the covers.  So he starts crying more and more and I can’t find the pacifer.  I then went looking in the house to see if I could find another one.  But no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find one – all the while, the baby is crying.  But I have the problem of not being able to find a pacifier every day – this is a recurring problem.  Not that it happens every night like this, but in general this happens and it is a source of minor frustration.  I would want to buy a thousand pacifers and have them all over the house so that we can always find one, but Claudine always says ‘we just need to keep better track of them.’  Of course she is right, but she never does!  So I get frustrated about how she blocks us from doing the obvious solution then she neglects to do her own solution, and it is me roaming around the house in the middle of the night looking for a pacifier for a crying baby while she is sleeping away!  We have this same problem with having a sufficient number of socks and underwear.  She says we just need to do laundry more often, but she doesn’t (she does the laundry), so I go hunting for socks and underwear for myself or the kids.  When things like this start to happen in the middle of the night, then I start to wake up and I won’t be able to get back to sleep.  Then I get tired when I am already suffering from some accumulated fatigue.  I can’t go back to sleep and sleep in because soon Claudine will be getting up to go to work.  She in general just doesn’t want to go to work, and resents that she has to, and so she expresses a general frustration about that.  But when she is frustrated, which happens a lot, it bothers me and I get frustrated about the fact that she is frustrated!  Then, as I was up roaming the house looking for a pacifier, Kiara started crying because it is raining very hard.  I would just let her cry it out and return to bed, but she has had a bad poop the last few days, and so she might have gone diarrea and need to be changed because she went all over her bed.  And this happens sometimes, which again bothers me when it does because then we have to change all the sheets, etc.  So then I have to go check on her just in case, and that bothers me too.  It bothers me that she is still not potty trained at almost three.  She is quite content to go in her diaper, meanwhile I have to change some very nasty poop diapers again and again.  Then I go to put her back to bed after having changed her diaper, and she asks for more juice.  So I have to go down stairs and get her more juice.  If I don’t, she will likely start crying.  So I am essentially blackmailed into doing it, so I give in and just get the juice because I do not want to deal with her crying.  It is not worth it.  But that also provides a frustration – that I have to get the juice and that I am being emotionally extorted by my daughter.  After I bring her her juice, she then wants me to wash her pacifier, which also bothers me a little bit that I have to do these bizarre routines every night to put my kids to bed.  And that also bothers me somewhat that it is always me who has to put the kids to bed while Claudine does not.  While our kids go to bed fairly easily, there is always a bit of a struggle.  Because it is the end of the day, I don’t want to deal with it.  I am also a bit frustrated by the fact that I am now having to watch my weight because I have gotten fatter, and now I am drinking these meal replacement shakes which are most certainly not very satisfying. 

All of these little frustrations have flared up in my mind in just the last half hour!!!  In and of themselves, each one is a small and petty issue which has a fairly straightforward answer to resolve the delusion definitively within my mind, but I have not taken the time to fully resolve each one because they are each so small.  So instead, I usually just dismiss it as not a big deal, repress it and move on to something else that I am doing.  But when I do that again and again and again, each time the delusion grows slightly stronger in my mind and each one of these things begins to bother me more and more, until eventually I am generating real anger towards these things.  It is like death by a million paper cuts.  I need to take the time to definitively address and resolve each and every delusion that arises in my mind, even the most minor, because if I do not they will grow and grow.  This is what happens with many people.  Cummulative frustration builds up with respect to countless minor annoyances, until eventually the person becomes angry and depressed.

2 thoughts on “Not allowing little resentments to fester in the mind

  1. This saves people. This voice. This honesty. I can relate both to the content and how it comes across. I’m going to spend the rest of today rejoicing in this wisdom, beautiful. Thank you.

    This is the Pure nectar of Kadampa Buddhism.

    “It is like death by a million paper cuts” – penetrating observation.

    I am currently writing an article on frustration and depression on my blog, stay tuned:

  2. How true you are. We are really all in the same boat bobbing along the waves of samsara 😉 One summer a few years ago with some fellow buddhist practioners we decided to forgo our summer break and offer one teaching a week in turn. When my turn came up, I mentioned to the audience that it would be interesting if we had the ability to write down everyone of our every day frustrations on a piece of paper on one side and the moments of happiness on the other. I told them that in my view the column for the frustrations would be immensly long and the moments of happiness surprisingly short. They looked at me with a look of disbelief. That is exactly what happens. Our delusions are our worst ennemies and they are very shrewed at making us forget these little frustrations and making our mind put great emphasis on these furtive moments of happiness. The result is lack of effort to face up to these delusions. Shame, shame shame.

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