Buddha taught that the "cause" of our suffering is 1) the desire for things or 2) the desire for things we have to go away. He points to the "desires" as the cause. So, this teaching points to the cause of all suffering, as the minds desires FOR things or the desire for things to CEASE.
But, what is actually the "cause" of all suffering, is the "act of identifying as a self" - which is the "thing" that thinks it "has desires". So, the "act of having desires" creates a "self-concept" or the idea there is a "self to have desires". We need to step back one step and see, that the thought of desiring something eg: the thought "I would like my Dad to treat me better", is holding a "self-concept" in place.
So first, there has to be a thought. Secondly, that thought has to be believed. Usually thoughts get believed very quickly. Thats why we have to train ourselves to watch our thoughts. You know you have believed a thought, when you get upset.
Thirdly, there has to be a DESIRE or BELIEF underlying these thoughts, for the thought to arise. So, we need to go back to our beliefs. The belief could be something like "Dads should treat their children nicely" or "Dads should help their children when they are asking for help" or "Dads should be loving". All these beliefs "cause" the thoughts to come into our minds, that tell us how Dads should be. Its not the thought that upsets us, its the action of believing that thought.
So, the belief that Dads should be loving, unconsciously causes us to desire Dads to be loving. And, as we know, Dads are just Dads. They do what they do. Without a meaning put on what they do, they are neither loving or unloving. They are just themselves. They are just being themselves. And usually, they will be acting out of fear, as they are believing their thoughts, just like us. So we start to see that Dads act from their beliefs. If you really want to, you can see what belief they are believing, if you listen carefully to how they express themselves. You can really get great clarity from what beliefs are being believed by everyone. Of course, there are no private thoughts. All beliefs come back to the one belief, that it was possible "to be a separate self" or "seperate from Source, All-That-Is or Perfect Love"
Thats why nothing is personal. No one is every upset with you or doing anything "to" you. They are just believing their thoughts, which come from their beliefs - and beliefs being believed by their mind, also fool them into thinking they have a seperate self. They and we are literally making a sense of self. So, they are in the act of "believing a self into reality", just like us. All minds are making a self-concept continuously, which causes suffering. So, the suffering is not in the actual desires, it is self that is being made out of these desires and beliefs. Its a "act" or "constant believing beliefs", that has to cease. Because that "act" is where we are asleep. These beliefs being believed create the dream of separation.
So, every belief you believe in, has to be bought to truth. ACIM talks about giving it to the Holy Spirit or shining a light on the darkness (beliefs would be termed as darkness). Use what ever process you find helpful to get freedom from these beliefs.
The end result is, that the mind realises that that belief is just "NOT TRUE". This realisation illuminates into the mind and the belief, which caused the thoughts, usually leaves the mind for good. If thoughts continue to arise from that belief, you need to once again, ask to see it differently or do another process. Some ask, Father, what is the truth here? Or is it True? Keep up these processes until the is gone or laughed at. Which is the same.
So the important thing, is to bring all beliefs into awareness and do some type of process on them. Basically, its just a bunch of beliefs that keep the idea of a separate identity in place. We have no idea that the "I" (a self-concept) is made up of beliefs and it can be quite startling when your mind starts to really see it beliefs really clearly. And it is then seen as how simple it is, to be free of beliefs which cause the suffering until finally, when all beliefs have been seen through, the self-concept or "me" just drops away on its own and spacious awareness of oneness arises into the mind. All thoughts that reference a "self" just fall away from the mind. Never to return. And joyful laughter arises and Life is just simply being lived in all its glory. The ACIM teaching "It merely is" illuminates clearly. No-one is claiming this joyful living. It just lives in true freedom.
So, in summary, a self-concept is just "beliefs being believed". Without any beliefs, you cant have a self-concept or referencing back to a self or the building of a "self".
Its like a brick wall. Each brick is a belief. As each brick is taken down, through inquiry or asking Holy Spirit to help see it differently, the wall becomes smaller and smaller. Until one day, the last brick (belief) goes and all that is left is the spacious awareness of Life, as it is.
Below is a great paragraphs from A Course in Miracles, Chapter 31, V - Self-Concept versus Self. I recommend you read this section of the last chapter of the text many times. Blessing of Love, Cate
(7)Concepts are learned. They are not natural. Apart from learning, they do not exist. They are not given, so they must be made. Not one of them is true (see, Not one concept is true) and many come from feverish imaginations, hot with hatred and distortions born of fear. What is a concept but a thought to which its maker gives a meaning of his own? Concepts maintain the world. But they can not be used to demonstrate the world is real. For all of them are made within the world, born in its shadow, growing in its ways and finally "maturing" in its thought. They are ideas of idols, painted with the brushes of the world, which cannot make a single picture representing truth.