This state is so foreign to our experience that it is almost inconceivable to even imagine. Which is another reason why it is so difficult to even form the intent to free ourselves – it runs contrary to everything we have experienced. It is contrary to our known universe.
Before moving on, I should clarify what the phase "the conceit, 'I am,'" means. It means feeling that you are in control, or should be, of your life experiences. It means "I want;" everything revolves around what you want. It means that you think you are able to achieve what you have achieved because of your efforts.
If you were to start on this path, where would you start? You start by first acknowledging that you do in fact suffer psychologically, on a pretty consistent basis. Think about it. Every time you feel frustrated or anxious or angry or hurt or some negative emotion, you suffer because it upsets you. And most of us encounter such feelings on a daily basis. You may not have thought of it as suffering, but if you are honest with yourself you will see that you do.
Next you need to understand why you have these emotional reactions to your life experiences. Most people blame their experiences for their unhappiness or suffering. It's always someone's or something's fault that we feel the way we do. People love playing the blame game.
But this is not in fact true. Between an event, a happening, and our emotional reaction, there is an intervening factor – our ego-mind. And our mind habitually reacts to things not being as we would like by blaming some outside force, by seeing ourselves as a victim. This is how the mind has developed its reactions to things since we were toddlers, resulting from a combination of our feeling neglected and thus insecure and being told in so many ways, so many times that there was something wrong with us. Feeling insecure breeds anxiety and frustration, while feeling bad about ourselves brings out the reaction of anger, among others, because we do not like feeling bad about ourselves.
There is, however, a different way of reacting to life events. Let me give some examples.
Let's say you were hurt badly in an accident and are in great pain. The pain obviously hurts; that is real. But beyond the actual pain, we suffer because we worry about what the future will bring: whether the pain will last a long time, whether we will be permanently disfigured. We also suffer because we don't like feeling pain, do not accept feeling pain, and so fight it.
The Buddhist way of dealing with pain is to accept that that is how things are at this moment, to embrace the pain, and find a way of using the experience to make ourselves stronger.
Another example taken from real life. Patti Lupone didn't get the screen role of Evita which she felt she deserved. That sent her into a depression that took two years of therapy to heal. Also from real life, Joan Rivers stated in a documentary that when she looks at her booking schedule, if she sees any days that are not booked, she feels a failure.
The Buddhist way of dealing with such situation is both to say, again, that this is just the way it is, that whatever we wanted wasn't meant to be, and to be aware of all the things in your life that you are grateful for.
The Buddhist way is clearly contrary to the way we were raised, the way we have been conditioned by our life experiences. But it is also clearly the only way to experience life and remain at peace and happy, to protect our sanity.
So how then do you change your habitual way of reacting to situations through your ego-mind, and instead respond to them through your true Buddha nature, your heart, and so stop your suffering? That is something I have addressed in many posts. It is an understatement to call it challenging. But it is possible with faith, discipline, and time. Read a recent post, such as "Looking for Your Treasure," or one that is more expansive, such as "End of Suffering Cheat Sheet." Read my book, How to Find Inner Peace. Or watch my video series, "Coming Home." It is indeed a lot of work, but if you really want to be at peace and happy, to not suffer, there is no other way.