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Three Futile Strategies

Three Futile Strategies
Pema Chodron
There are three habitual methods that human beings use for relating to troubling habits such as laziness, anger or self-pity. I call these the three futile strategies––the strategies of attacking, indulging or ignoring.

The futile strategy of attacking is particularly popular. When we see our habit, we condemn ourselves. We criticize and shame ourselves for indulging in comfort, or pitying ourselves, or not getting out of bed. We wallow in the feelings of badness and guilt.

The futile strategy of indulging is equally common. We justify and even applaud our habit: “This is just the way I am. I don’t deserve comfort or inconvenience. I have plenty of reasons to be angry or to sleep twenty-four hours a day.” We may be haunted by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy but we talk ourselves into condoning our behavior.

The strategy of ignoring is quite effective, at least for a while. We disassociate, space out, go numb. We do anything possible to distance ourselves from the naked truth of our habits. We go on automatic pilot and just avoid looking too closely at what we’re doing.

The mind training practices of the warrior present a fourth alternative, the alternative of an enlightened strategy. Try fully experiencing whatever you’ve been resisting––without exiting in your habitual ways. Become inquisitive about your habits. Practice touching in with the fundamental tenderness and groundlessness of your being before it hardens into habit. Do this with the clear intention that your ego-clinging diminish and that your wisdom and compassion increase.

Comfortable With Uncertainty: 108 Teachings, pg 63-64

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