Sometimes, you may have to be firm and tell some people off.
Well-meaning organizations, who necessarily don’t have a budget to remunerate us, sometimes invite us to deliver my Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk. Since the opportunity is in line with our Higher Purpose of Inspiring Happiness we do accept such invitations and I deliver my Talk pro bono in such cases. But we do insist that our travel and logistics are taken care of. Recently, a host who, in our opinion, could have afforded to make our ground transfers more comfortable, was pushing us hard to accept mediocre arrangements. Further, the tone of the email we received was unprofessional and lacked dignity. We refused to accept the arrangements they proposed and canceled the Program. When I shared this instance with someone who was struggling to make a similar choice he wanted to know how we can make such a decision simple. “Doesn’t it appear that you are being finicky about making a small adjustment for a larger good? Isn’t there always this conflict,” he asked.
And I think his question is very pertinent. This happens to all of us, all the time, in all situations. The simplest way I have learnt to reason with this apparent ‘conflict’ is to ask myself if I am comfortable doing what I am being asked to do or what I am setting out to do. If I am not, I immediately withdraw myself from the scene, from the opportunity – whatever may be the context or whoever may be involved.
I have realized that if you don’t draw a line, even in seemingly ‘small or trivial’ matters, you will dither when it comes to making a choice with ‘bigger’ ones. Especially in close relationships where people start taking you for granted.
What do you do, for instance, when people close to want to have an opinion about everything you do. And they, if you are not wary, end up treating you like a doormat. You suffer them because you don’t want to be either petty – like them – or it’s not in your “intrinsic nature” to be “unkind” to people. Now, let’s get this right. There’s nothing “unkind” in asserting yourself so as to protect your inner peace and dignity. Whoever it may be – parent, sibling, child, neighbor, boss, colleague or friend – no one, no one has the right to treat you in a manner in which you don’t like or don’t want to be treated. Period.
So, be firm when you must. Just put people in their place. Protect your inner peace, because no one else will do this for you.
Some of the situations Life places you in will also require you to fight for justice. Often with people who are supposedly close to you. Don’t get clouded by sentiments about close blood relations in such cases either. I am not encouraging you to fight because it is the right thing to do. But what do you do when the situation created by people around you demands a firm response? A friend of mine recently called to say how his older brother, with whom he shares the ownership of the family business, was making it almost impossible for both of them to co-exist and survive. “Neither is he accepting a separation of the business and the assets, nor is he allowing me to lead it and run it well, nor is he running it efficiently. We are bleeding losses month-on-month. He’s challenging me to fight him. If I fight him I can at least save half the family’s fortunes – for my immediate family and for my mother and sister. But how can I fight my own brother? I am not interested in any fight,” lamented my friend. I told him: “Don’t let your ego – in the garb of compassion – come in between you and what you must do. Just do whatever you believe must be done in the interest of all parties concerned, without hatred, without anger, without any rancor.”
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna: “Don’t escape from the war… because I can see this escape is just an ego trip. The way you are talking simply shows that you are calculating, you are thinking that by escaping from the war you will become a great saint. Rather than surrendering to the whole, you are taking yourself too seriously– as if there will be no war if you are not there.” Krishna says to Arjuna, “Just be in a state of let-go. Say to existence, ‘Use me in whatever way you want to use me. I am available, unconditionally available.’ Then whatsoever happens through you will have a great authenticity about it. It will have intensity, it will have depth. It will have the impact of the eternal on it.”
Such is Life. When you have to do something to ensure that your inner peace is not disturbed, you have to do it. And only you can do it. Do it also knowing, as Krishna says, that you are a mere instrument, a conduit for something that Life wants done through you! In doing so, you are not being unkind or rude. You are simply responding to a situation that has been created by someone and which you intensely dislike. So, don’t fall short, don’t fight shy. If you don’t do what you must do in such situations, you will cause your own suffering.
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