Why Is My Life So Difficult?

Many people express that life is hard, and that their life in particular is difficult and unhappy. On the surface this would seem to be so, at least in some cases; some people genuinely appear to have a variety of ongoing hardships.

Why is it then that life help teachers like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie, among others, state that there are no real problems? Can this claim possibly be true?

I believe, at a very fundamental level, that it is true: problems, as such, don’t exist. This will be an entirely unbelievable notion for many people. Let’s see whether I can change some minds through this writing.

Consider first what a problem actually is. A problem is, in fact, a mental label of an external event. Problems are not absolute. In the wilderness, a hungry lion attacks and kills a gazelle. Is this a problem?

It’s likely not a problem for the hungry lion, who is able to satisfy its hunger. Is it a problem for the gazelle? Maybe — if death is a problem. Is it? Can we know this for sure? There is much subject matter that claims death isn’t a problem at all but is, in reality, a wonderful event.

But your problems are different. Your problems really are problems. Health problems. Relationship problems. Money problems. These circumstances are real and significant — your well-being is at stake.

Is your well-being at stake? Who says? You do. Are you right about this?

Most people accept their thought streams as accurate, particularly when these thought streams express danger or a threat. I’m in trouble! I need to have this or that! And once I have this or that, I’ll be okay!

But is it really so? Can you know, absolutely, that it’s so? Can you absolutely know that you’re in trouble and that everything will be better once (fill in the blank) happens? Isn’t it possible — at least possible — that you’re really not in trouble and / or that things will not be better once (fill in the blank) happens?

Your life is not what’s causing you difficulties; what’s causing you difficulties is a story about your life. What is your story? My life is difficult. What if you could not tell the story ‘my life is difficult’? This is not to say that the external circumstances of your life were any different, only that you didn’t have the story.

What would your life be like then? It would be your life without a label. This label is what causes you to suffer, not life.

Consider this: You and I are in our boss’ office, and our boss is screaming at us. I consider this to be a problem while you do not. Why? I believe in a story that says it’s a problem, and you don’t.

Don’t get me wrong: it can be very, very difficult not to become attached to — to believe in — life stories. These stories, our thought streams, can come on in an instant and before we know it we’re completely immersed in them. But don’t fool yourself — these thought streams and only these thought streams are what cause you to be upset and to suffer, and these thought streams come from you and nowhere else.

Why is my life so difficult? Because of the stories that I believe in. When I stop believing these stories then I stop insisting that life should be different than it is and I stop resisting life as it is — and then life can flow freely through me, and life often becomes better entirely on its own.

There’s nothing I have to do. My so-called problems get solved on their own.

That’s impossible! Things don’t happen unless we make them happen!

Another story. Are you certain that it’s true?