Creating our own suffering
While accepting suffering as a natural fact of human existence is critical, it's equally important to learn how we create suffering for ourselves.
We create suffering for ourselves when we come to see ourselves as victims and blame others for our problems.
You'll notice that what all these examples of self-created suffering share is a focus on the self — "my hurts, my injustices..." It's not an exaggeration to say that such thinking easily leads to a kind of paranoia in which we are the victims of intentionally perpetrated injuries.
Not only does such thinking inflame our anguish and unrest, we make one problem into two! And this second problem — the feeling of being a victim, of life being unfair — exhausts the very resources we need to address the problem we started with.
Blame — "Because of X ___"
Often our tendency is to try to blame our problems on others, on external factors. Furthermore, we tend to look for one single cause, and then try to exonerate ourselves from the responsibility. It seems that whenever there are intense emotions involved, there tends to be a disparity between how things appear and how they really are.
The Dalai Lama urges us not to fall into this trap, yet another form of self-created suffering in which we see ourselves as powerless:
If you go further and analyze the situation carefully — looking at things in a holistic way and realizing that there are many events contributing to a situation — the reality of the situation emerges.
We are not usually aware how such emotions cause us suffering. Let's look at one such emotion as an example: hatred. As the Dalai Lama points out, the destructive effects of hatred are very visible, very obvious and immediate.
When a very strong or forceful thought of hatred arises within you, at that very instant it totally overwhelms you and destroys your presence of mind disappears completely. When such intense anger and hatred arises, it obliterates the best part of your brain, which is the ability to judge between right and wrong and between the long-term and short-term consequences of your actions. Your power of judgment becomes totally inoperable — it can no longer function. So, this anger and hatred tends to throw you into a state of confusion, which just serves to make your problems and difficulties so much worse.
We also fail to see how such emotions cause others suffering. In addition to the obvious effects of expressing anger and hatred, even if we think we're keeping it inside, other people can sense it.