I Don’t Know How to Cope with My Work, My Studies, and Not Enough Sleep!

Aug 31, 2020


Dear Venerable Robina,

Please advise me about my workload. I get angry when I feel I have too much to do, or am not doing things well.

I can be very hard on myself and instead of rejoicing in what I do get done I feel miserable and sorry for myself. Some days I feel like I can do anything, and even the hardships are joyful, but other days the anger kicks in and once it’s arisen, I can see it but still have to ride it out and just do damage control.

In the past, before I took on these new studies, I’ve had much easier conditions and responsibilities, but still had the same feeling that it’s too hard, it’s too much, because of this anger. Looking back on it, it seems like I had it quite easy and it’s too bad I couldn’t have a more positive mind. I also know that things could get much harder, and somehow I will cope with that too. No choice. And then this might seem easy in comparison.

I don’t have much time for rest, and being in lockdown is already challenging my attachments, which brings up anger. Once I start spinning, again I find my mind can’t concentrate, I get less done, further behind, need more rest, get more behind, and it just becomes a nasty cycle.

With gratitude,



I undersand, dear P.

I am so glad you are working hard at the Dharma! Really pushing yourself, based on bodhichitta. That’s practice! Don’t be afraid, don’t be negative, don’t criticize yourself!

Everything will change when you consciously, really intentionally, delight in your effort, your hard work. Believe me. So start doing that. Completely change your internal script.

It’s not the work or the lack of sleep that is the problem. It’s your interpretation of it. Attachment only wants nice feelings, that’s the problem

See this clearly, then change the thoughts.

Happiness isn’t just feeling good. Happiness comes from rejoicing in your virtue. When you come home from a tough session at the gym, you are not unhappy. Your body is exhausted but your mind is happy. Same here.

Thak you for your help. Thank you for your practice.



Thank you, Venerable. 

I wish it was as easy as just setting a strong intention. I go through phases when that works and others when it just doesn’t. It makes sense that it’s not the lack sleep etc., but I find there’s also a tipping point that if I’m doing too many things that are uncomfortable then I can’t reach that more stable or positive baseline where my mind is flexible enough to hold and apply the intention for any length of time.

Often I’m so far out of my comfort zone here it’s a good sign I haven’t left and don’t plan to, so I can rejoice I haven’t given up and have strong enough guru devotion to keep at it!



“I wish it was as easy as just setting a strong intention” — wrong view, dear P!

Like all of us, you’re addicted to wanting to feel good, and just because you don’t feel good the moment you state your intention, you assume you’ve failed.

That’s like expecting to play the piano perfectly just because you sit down and intend to play it well. Of course you won’t at first! But how else will you play the piano well if you don’t intend to! You need the humility of patience, and the humility of knowing it’s a process, it’s dependent arising.

Why do you want to reach “that more stable or positive baseline” — that’s just intellectual nonsense. In the West there’s this obsession with balance, when everything will be just lovely. It’s a fantasy!

Be happy with the chaos. Enjoy it. Attachment is a junkie that only wants nice feelings. Stop wanting nice feelings. Your attachment is out of control, so ride the crazy wind energy that it’s arousing, enjoy being out of control.

All the lamas tell us that enthusiasm, joyful effort, only comes when we know the benefits of what we’re doing. If you could have just a glimpse of the incredible results of all this work you’re doing now, all this effort, you’d be weeping with joy!

So instead of focusing on not feeling good, focus on the results.

As the Tibetans say, nothing gets more difficult with practice. 

Love and prayers,


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