For me...Buddhism is like the safety harness on a roller coaster

I have only been practicing meditation and studying Buddhism with a sangha for 3 years, and I took refuge and 5 precepts only 2 months ago. I am so new, but I have decided that for me, it is like the safety harness on a roller coaster.
It has changed everything.
I am a teacher and professor (99 11-year-olds, and 15 Master’s candidates at the moment), a wife and a mother of 2 teenage boys and 1 pre-adolescent girl. I lead a very busy life. On the surface I look happy.
But life is suffering, and my delusions are the cause of my suffering.
I am a perfectionist.
Nothing I do is ever good enough for me.
This is this cause of my suffering, always has been.
I suffer from delusion and greed for recognition and acceptance from others.
I want everyone to like me.
I cling to the notion that people really care about the little tiny mistakes I may make during the course of each day.
Now I know that it is possible to stop my own suffering, which I never thought was possible.
When I feel myself flying off the rails, instead of reaching for a glass of wine, or crying, or yelling at someone, I breathe.
I recognize my thought patterns and can let them go, sometimes.
I have a more clear sense of the impermanence of life, and what is really important (each moment).
I no longer live in fear of sickness and death. (well, for the most part, it’s a work in progress).
It is the progress towards understanding that is important.
It is the harness that keeps me from flying out of the rollercoaster. I may be going too fast sometimes, but I no longer feel like I’m going to fly out and smash my head on the pavement.
Now I can really enjoy the ride, even though it’s really scary.

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Bel, welcome to Sutta Central!

I wonder if you have heard of wabi-sabi? The Japanese, in their pursuit of perfection have acknowledged that one must put limits to the pursuit of perfection and even cultivate imperfection itself as a requisite.

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Thank you for this post, @Bel. So much of what you write applies to me. Actually, it was eerie reading your post and thinking that a large portion of it describes my situation exactly.

Today was a perfect example of the sources of my suffering and the ways that my practice is helping me overcome it. At the university where I teach I had an encounter with a lower-level administrator who was enforcing rules that made no sense and that seemingly should have been overridden by agreements that had been made several years ago by a group of faculty and higher-level administrators. I was frustrated that I had to re-negotiate a matter that seemingly had been solved, and the lower-level administrator who was intent on enforcing the letter of the law took my frustration personally.

For the rest of the day I beat myself up for having made the administrator feel bad, even after I called her back to apologize for having expressed my frustration. I just couldn’t let go of the matter and felt bad about having offended someone. As a perfectionist, I spent several hours going over in my head how I could have approached the situation differently.

Then, in the evening I attended meditation practice at the Wat I attend. As it turns out, the Dhamma lesson following meditation was about practicing sila, and developing the proper mindset and wisdom. The monk leading the session was kind enough to listen to my story of what transpired today and he related it to tonight’s lesson. He helped me see that what I experienced today was an invitation to continue to practice and examine the sources of my suffering.

My afternoon was like the roller coaster was on the edge of its wheels making a sharp curve, but the evening meditation practice and Dhamma lesson were like the harness keeping me harnessed in. Thank you very much for the metaphor (apropos as it is for my username here at Sutta Central)! :pray:

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Thank you for this beautiful post, Bel! :blossom: :heartpulse:

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Thanks!! I will be reading more about this!! Very cool.

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@Metaphor we are kindred spirits, I have done this many, many times. Lots of suffering in going over things again and again in your head, after there is nothing more you can do about it. I had a bad interaction with a parent last year, and I still think about it. It’s ridiculous. It wasn’t right speech, I responded hastily, I apologized, I could have done better. But why does it keep popping into my head? It’s long over. Examining why it keeps popping into my head and how I handle those thoughts is where the real learning will happen.

It is great when you can see an interaction or any situation that could have been different as an opportunity to learn about yourself.
I always make things into metaphors too, maybe because I’m an English teacher!

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Thank you! It felt good to write it down. I don’t recognize the person I was 3 years ago, and I owe it all to meditation and listening to/reading the dhamma. :slight_smile:

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We change with time, but somethings if practiced unintentionally can be habit forming: I used to have a quite a bit of social anxiety and I’ve learnt how to change it over the years, but using a few ‘tricks’: 1. realising that I can never entirely please everybody, and someone will be unhappy however well I perform, and (‘8 worldly winds’) 2. tapping into thoughts behind my anxiety which were catastrophic like ‘I will lose my job, if x,y, and z, on time, etc’, usually over pretty trivial stuff, like coming in late or the amount of details etc.

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