What’s happening when we experience negative thoughts and a loss of confidence?

A student wrote to Lama Shenpen about noticing their experience of negativity, especially when making mistakes and losing confidence.

Lama Shenpen responds:

Negativity and negative thoughts when we make mistakes or get things wrong is interesting isn’t it? It’s very common – a sub-mandala that feels okay as long as we can feel confident that we are not making a mistake – as long as we feel we are in the right.

I notice it in myself too, it’s the kind of confidence that works well as long as we are not making mistakes and getting things wrong but then – oops, where has it gone?!!!

It is what I am getting at in the Discovering the Heart of Buddhism course section on Confidence – confidence in the Openness – Clarity – Sensitivity sense is not dependent on conditions, nonetheless, there is a close connection between the two kinds of confidence (unconditioned and conditioned) isn’t there? 

Our Truth instinct and our innate sensitivity and clarity tells us when something is wrong and it is important to honour that, but then a conditioned mandala based on our survival instinct gets mixed in with it.

This conditioning, perhaps from childhood or past lives, kicks in and of course if we rely on that too much then when conditions change, that changes. The mandala guardians then kick up a whole mixture of emotions as we try to recover that feeling of conditioned confidence, instead of using the opportunity to link into the deeper confidence in our True Nature.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

Discover more teachings from Lama Shenpen on the subject of Confidence here.

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