Great psychological essays are most often written to convey an important life message. But it is always the responsibility of the reader to apply the ideas for the deepest meaning to take root. Murray Oxman had a profound ability to see things clearly and write about them in easily understandable language. From his perceptive book, How to Beat the Stress and Get More Out of Life, the following excerpt conveys one such important and life-changing message: Quit hurting yourself by not being attentive to your own inner reactions. Please don’t let the simplicity of the writing keep you from discovering it’s powerful and penetrating lesson. There is great beauty in simplicity. If you are looking for Real Magic and something out of this earthly world … you have found it!
Be Interested in Your Life in a New Way
Let’s suppose somebody walks in and gives you more work than you can do. Does it make any sense to get up from wherever it is that you are, and go over and stick your finger in the wall socket and shock yourself? Does that make sense? Of course not. But that’s what we do! That’s what we do inwardly to ourselves. If something we call ‘bad’ happens, if we don’t get our own way, if someone doesn’t treat us the way we think they should, we immediately adopt the strange procedure of putting our finger in the wall socket — psychologically speaking. Somehow we feel that if we get hurt, if we hurt ourselves, then that validates our self-picture of being right. We think it proves “I’m Right!” No, all it proves is that we hurt ourselves, unnecessarily. That’s what it validates.It was not the incident or the other person or the amount of work we have to do or anything else outside of us. It was how we reacted to the outer event. Blaming anything else just avoids the problem and leaves the whole painful thing going.
How can we find all this out for ourselves? Is there a practical method?
Yes. And I’ll tell you what it is: INTEREST! That’s it. INTEREST! Be interested! Be interested in your own life in a new way! Stop seeking comfort! Forget all about comfort! …
Inner Life Exercise
Simply stay interested or awake to your reactions (thoughts and feelings) so you can catch yourself about to, or in the middle of, sticking your finger in a light socket. That is, see yourself hurting yourself with your own wrong thoughts and reactions. This happens much more than we think and will give a nice jolt. Nobody is causing you pain but yourself. Once you see what the problem is, then there is no more problem.