Thursday Tidbits: Neurosis Interrupted

This week’s Thursday Tidbits post ponders neurosis or what Pema Chödrön refers to as Training in the Three Difficulties:

“The three difficulties (or the three difficult practices) are:

1. “to recognize your neurosis as neurosis,
2. “then not to do the habitual thing, but
to do something different to interrupt
the neurotic habit, and
3. “to make this practice a way of life”

(Pema Chödrön’s Quotes of the Week).

KMHuberImage; St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge; Florida; USA

In light of my metaphorical faucet fixing last week, I found this examination of neurosis rather revealing. For most of my life, I have been considered anti-establishment, a deeply 60s term and apt label for my own neurotic groove, the face I show to the world.

In these last few years, my inner self has taken up its own anti-establishment banner so that within and without are the same reflection, not always true in previous decades. It is my way of saying “no” to what I have known and “why not” to what is uncertain.

As part of my “training in the three difficulties,” I am reminded of a favorite morning meditation on the true and false self from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening:

“… It is the true self that lets us know what is authentic and what has become artificial, while the false self is a diplomat of distrust, enforcing a lifestyle of guardedness, secrecy, and complaint.” 

“…Each time we experience a change in reality as we know it, we must choose whether to declare or hide what we know to be true. At such moments, we either need to bring the way we have been living into accord with that shift of reality, or we need to resist the change.…

 “Whether we live in our true or false self depends on our willingness to stay real.… Staying real becomes the work of keeping our actions in the world connected to the truth of our inner being, allowing our true self to see the light of day” (Mark Nepo).

It is the “staying real” that reveals our every day practice, how much we actually train, how much we exercise our resolve and whether or not we leave it on the training mat, a hard habit to break….

One way to keep the training fresh and the resolve intact is in hearing new voices. This past week, I learned about Jeff Foster on Tomas’s blog where I discovered the following quote that originally appeared on Foster’s Facebook page:

“I don’t want to fix you. I don’t want to give you answers. I don’t want to impress you. I don’t want you to change. I only want to meet you, exactly as you are, beyond your stories, your hopes and dreams, your games, your masks, here and now.

“If you feel confused, feel confused now. If you feel frightened, feel frightened now. If you are bored, let’s get bored together. If you are burning with rage, let’s burn together awhile and see what happens. I want to meet what’s really here. Perhaps then, great change is possible” (Jeff Foster).

If our training on the inside is reflected in the face we reveal to the world, then our daily practice is who we are. Why not, then, a change of habit, a foregoing of neurosis, even great change?

Finally, I include  a 1960s blurry, black and white video of Simon and Garfunkel singing, “I Am a Rock.” Before the song, however, Paul Simon offers a comment on neurosis.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

15 thoughts on “Thursday Tidbits: Neurosis Interrupted

  1. Thank you, Karen and Tomas for introducing me to Jeff Foster. He sounds incredible. He will be in my neck of the woods next week, so I’m trying to see if I can attend a talk.
    I love the idea of making the inside match the outside, Karen. I admire your honesty and integrity. I will try to follow suit.
    Thanks for another Thursday Tidbit. I needed a boost after a hectic day. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo


    1. Do let us know if you are able to attend one of Foster’s talks. I am also checking into his books.

      As for true and false self, the outer facade cracks quite easily once the heart opens or at least that has been my experience, which is not to say there are not some “rocky” moments. There are but I do my best to remain in the practice of the three difficulties, interrupting old patterns. Thanks for your kind words, Kozo, and glad that Thursday Tidbits gave you a boost!


  2. Well, another fine post my friend and a much needed reminder to stop the madness. You know I am a big fan of Pema Chodron so when I read the opening paragraph, I could almost hear her talking on the three difficulties. One of these days I will remember to snap that imaginary rubber band on my wrist, or not, either way is fine. Thanks again for another great read and the video, one of my favorite songs.


    1. I, too, have always liked “I Am A Rock”; I bought the 45 RPM record years ago. It cost around seventy cents, as I remember. For me, the song is background music for the three difficulties as I leave an entrenched life for what is not. Glad you enjoyed the post.


  3. Yes, I get Pema’s daily quotes in my email as well, and I love this one! Have been working with it…. I love this idea of interrupting the neurotic habit. It is kind of like telling a dog to sit when he is chasing his tail – can’t do both at the same time, so the compulsive behavior ceases. I can get to chasing my tail pretty good some days – and I love it when someone comes along with words like these that in effect tell me to sit! 😉 Great post.


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