I was sick in bed for awhile with pneumonia. Thus no Tenacity Notes last week. I’m pretty much better now. Having pneumonia put me in mind of death, and I’ve been thinking about a couple of people I know who’ve died. One of them thought a lot about how people — her children, her landlord, etc. — were messing with her. It distressed her greatly. The other spent a lot of time fussing about the people in her life, wanting them to live their lives differently. It distressed her greatly. And now they’re dead. I wonder: “Why? Why didn’t you focus on fulfillment? Why did you shroud yourself in defenses? Why didn’t you step free of them?”

Of course it’s not for me to analyze them. I don’t know their paths or purposes. I don’t know what they were learning here. (Unless of course they were clients, but that’s a whole different story)

But thinking about them has caused me to think about myself, and to wonder about the ways I inflict distress on myself. And so I ask of myself what I’d asked of them. These can be useful questions for all of us. What patterns of thought or behavior, what beliefs, what expectations do you have that hinder your happiness, that cause you distress, that move you away from fulfillment? Name them, recognize them when they show up, and then find a different way to think or act. Which is often easier said than done. Sometimes it will seem that you’re stubbornly committed to distressing yourself! But give your attention to it, and you’ll soon find that you’re not distressing yourself quite so much as you used to.

What do you think about this: most, if not all distress you experience is self-inflicted.

Let me know how it goes.