Normally our need to escape from unpleasant feelings is so urgent that we do not give ourself the time to discover where these feelings actually come from. Suppose that someone we have helped responds with ingratitude, or that our partner fails to return our affection, or that a colleague or boss continuously tries to belittle us and undermine our confidence. These things hurt, and our instinctive reaction is to try immediately to escape the painful feelings in our mind by becoming defensive, blaming the other person, retaliating, or simply hardening our heart. Unfortunately, by reacting so quickly we do not give ourself the time to see what is actually going on in our mind. In reality, the painful feelings that arise on such occasions are not intolerable. They are only feelings, a few moments of bad weather in the mind, with no power to cause us any lasting harm. There is no need to take them so seriously. We are just one person among countless living beings, and a few moments of unpleasant feeling arising in the mind of just one person is no great catastrophe.
Just as there is room in the sky for a thunderstorm, so there is room in the vast space of our mind for a few painful feelings; and just as a storm has no power to destroy the sky, so unpleasant feelings have no power to destroy our mind. When painful feelings arise in our mind, there is no need to panic; we can patiently accept them, experience them, and investigate their nature and where they come from. When we do this, we shall discover that painful feelings do not come to us from outside but arise from within our own mind. Circumstances or other people have no power to make us feel bad; the most they can do is trigger the potentials for painful feelings that already exist within our own mind. These potentials or karmic imprints are the residue of the negative actions we created in the past, which we performed because our mind was under the control of delusions, all of which stem from self-grasping ignorance. By patiently accepting painful feelings without clinging to them, the negative karmic potentials from which they arose are purified, and we shall never have to experience that karma again.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso