What should we do if we find ourselves with people who want to keep us small and dependent?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If people want to keep you small and dependent, then become a bit more powerful. Do some bodybuilding, learn a martial art, or seduce them. Confront them with the fact that you are not so little anymore, even though they won’t like this because most people have fixed ideas about how others should be. Be persistent, don’t react to it, and carry on living as you wish. This way the relationship can level off into a good coexistence over time, and you can share your ideas. But don’t let yourself be imprisoned. If nothing changes, just continue living as you do.

How can I strengthen my self-confidence?

Lama Ole’s answer:

It is important to put your energy into solving your problems instead of thinking about them. This also applies to sicknesses—they don’t pass more quickly if you think of them constantly.

In the moment a situation gets difficult or you become sick, it is good to put all your energy into the goal—that is, into the solution of the problem or into your recovery. Your mind and thoughts shouldn’t dwell on the problems. Then you will get through it in the best way, and the karma dissolves.

Otherwise, it is simply stupid not to fight something that has to be fought! But if the karma still doesn’t dissolve, then observe what is there. In fact, in the moment depression, sickness, or other difficulties appear, the original cause is gone. Then it is only a question of time until the negative karma has been removed—until the effect is gone. And there one should do whatever is possible with one’s body, speech, and mind! Non-Buddhists try to avoid difficulties wherever they can and to constantly experience something beautiful instead. This is why the many ups and downs in life appear.

All “trips” you experience are like images in the mirror. Behind everything that happens—behind every grimace, every devil—is a clear mirror that doesn’t change. This is your buddha nature! So try to act as normally and meaningfully as possible while you work through the difficulties on your way. Then everything you do will have long-term effects and great strength. Work with this attitude: “I am a buddha who just hasn’t recognized it yet.”

I always have strong self-doubt; could you give me advice for this?

Lama Ole’s answer:

The cause of self-doubt is rooted in wrong views—that is, in one’s way of thinking. It means you are putting the cart before the horse. You should create distance from the “either-or” attitude and lift what is relative and conditioned to the level of the absolute.

Understand that highest bliss is highest truth and that everybody benefits from all the good that happens everywhere. Try not to feel separate from the totality and to always wish all beings happiness. If you are doing better, then others will also do better. And if you feel good, you can also do more for them.

If the self-doubt is of an intellectual nature, then it’s best to use mantras. Mantras are like an oil film on which the disturbing emotions slip back and forth in all directions and then fall away. Mantras protect your mind from its neuroses, and thus deep experiences and joys can develop. Look at you: you have a face, two arms, two legs, and would like to have happiness like everyone else. This is a completely open game. Try to do whatever possible to be happy, and what is not possible today might be tomorrow.

Those who think they have problems should read an international newspaper every day for one week and confront themselves with what is happening in the world—for example, with what takes place in Africa on a daily basis. Then one’s own difficulties are put into perspective and lose their weight.