If we remain trapped in this greedy, needy selfishness, we will continue to be unhappy and frustrated. But as we acquire a more realistic assessment of ourselves, we learn that the envy, anger, fear and hatred (which often spring from thwarted egotism) have little to do with us; they are ancient emotions that we inherited from our earliest ances­tors.

‘This is not what I really am,said the Buddha; ‘this is not myself. Gradually we will begin to feel more detached from these negative emotions and refuse to identify with them. We will also slowly become aware that our feelings about other people are often relative and subjective, bearing little relation to reality. Instead of being objective, rational assessments of others, they can simply be ‘all about me’. As long as we allow them to dominate us, they will imprison us in a defensive, self-obsessed world-view so that we never realise our full potential. A more productive way to deal with hostile feelings towards others is to realise that those we dislike are suffering from them in much the same way.

When people attack us, they are probably experiencing a similar self-driven anxiety and frustration; they too are in pain. In time, if we persevere, the people we fear or envy become less threatening, because the ‘self that we are so anxious to protect and promote at their expense is a fantasy that is making us petty and smaller than we need to be.

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