According to Buddhist teachings, we do not need to change who we are. Most of us enter therapy or begin a mindfulness meditation practice because we believe that we need to be different, better, more of something, or less of something else. Of course, in one sense, that's right. We do want to feel better; we want to stop making ourselves miserable. But, according to the Buddhist teachings, the way to do that is by making friends with who we are, not by rejecting who we are and trying to be something else.
Many years ago, in 1977, before I began to practice mindfulness meditation or to study Buddhist ideas, my best friend from high school became ill and died at the age of 32 from leukemia. As soon as I heard that Paula had died, I became quite sad but also very nervous. I had never had a close friend my own age die before.
I trembled and shook; my mind got really speedy. I felt jumpy and wanted to move and do something, but I had no idea what to do. I couldn't sit still, and I couldn't do anything else either. I churned out scary thoughts about dying and the fear that I would feel this way forever. As a therapist, I recognized that I was experiencing anxiety, and I really wanted to get away from myself and my agitated body and mind.