Allow people to be just the way they are. And you be yourself. This is the only way to be peaceful with the world around you.
If you examine your feelings about others, especially about those who can’t get along much with, you will find that you are continuously wishing they are different from who they are. And this wishing serves up enough grief to make you feel miserable – about the other person and about yourself! But your wishing that someone is different or behaves better is of no use. Because if anyone has to realize it, it is the other person. And as long as that person does not realize this, and does not change, you are going to experience this person only this way. And, resultantly, you are going to continue to feel miserable too. So, the wisest response in any situation when someone else’s behavior is causing you discomfort and agony, is to simply let the other person be. And you too just be – yourself.
A friend, who’s over 25 years older to me, shared his experience of being in a similar situation with me recently. My friend’s brother-in-law and my friend had entered into a property-sharing arrangement several years ago. As time passed, the brother-in-law felt, for no evident reason, that he had been short-changed in the deal. But instead of addressing the issue head-on with my friend, he started to disrupt the peace in the family. For one, he started to ill-treat his wife (who is my friend’s sister). Then he started to spread canards about my friend in the family. Further, he started becoming abusive of my friend in public. Many attempts by my friend to understand what could be the issue were stone-walled by the brother-in-law. For months on end, this “stand-off” between the two continued. Finally, unable to bear the pain – and the misery – one day, my friend confronted his brother-in-law. The brother-in-law admitted that there was an issue – and it had to do with the way “he was cheated in the property transaction”. My friend says that he had no inkling this was the issue. Once he heard this, my friend spontaneously agreed to transfer the entire property in the brother-in-law’s name. “The problem ended right there. In a nanosecond,” recalled my friend.
But a different problem now arose. My friend’s wife said he (my friend) had been “stupid and foolish” to simply give up control over such a valuable asset. She demanded to know why my friend had acted hastily and why she and their children had not been involved in the decision. My friend says he explained his stance thus: “When we entered into the property-sharing agreement, it was a deal that was defined in black-and-white, in unambiguous terms, and agreed upon by both parties. By making it now seem he was short-changed, my brother-in-law is insinuating that I have cheated him. It is not in my nature to cling on to money or assets or wealth at the cost of my name and the family’s peace. He wanted the asset. And unless I gave it to him, he was not going to be at peace. And unless I gave him what he wanted, I was not going to be at peace. I was not foolish. I was just being myself – getting for myself what I valued most – my peace!”
Our lives and experiences with people around us need not be as dramatic. But in each situation that we are exposed to unreasonable people and their pettiness – by way of their tactics and attitudes, it is best to not try to change them. We can’t. Some people know what they want very well. And they will not rest until they get it. In their drive to get what they want, they will trample on people around them, they will vitiate the atmosphere and they will puncture people’s self-esteem. Reason, logic and common-sense will not work with them. It is best to just let such people be. By doing so, I am not even remotely suggesting that you be a door-mat and allow yourself to be pissed on and passed over. No. Turn around, make your point and make sure you are understood and you are being yourself. In my friend’s case he decided to give up control over the property. You decide what ‘being yourself’ means to you. If you are in my friend’s position, and if you would want to fight for the property, please do. By all means. The bottom-line is please don’t suffer someone and their machinations. Or agonize over others’ behaviour. Learn to push such people back, put them in their place and you be yourself and at peace!