Don’t identify yourself with your problems – face them, solve them but don’t ever think that you are them.
Yesterday a friend called me. She was on the verge of tears. Her husband has been battling a chronic skin ailment causing both pain and low self-esteem. Their business has been struggling. And her job at a multi-national has been fraught with challenges. “It’s been very, very, very tough AVIS. We have even considered dying,” she said.
I can relate to and empathize with her situation. But thinking depressively about Life and contemplating ending one’s Life does not, and will never, solve problems. Sometimes Life will push you to a corner and it may appear to be a no-go situation, it may seem like it is the end of the road; but you must not give up. It is at such times that you must remind yourself that you are not the problem you are faced with. You may be having a relationship issue, you may be a divorcee. But you are not the divorce. You may have psoriasis. But you are not psoriasis. You may be bankrupt, penniless – like me. But you are not the bankruptcy. You may have a quadriplegia condition. But you are not the quadriplegia. In summary, never let the definition of your problem become a label that you stick on yourself or allow others to stick on you. Each of your problems is a manifestation of Life’s challenges that populate different phases of your Life. These problems will arrive when they must and they will leave you when they must. The moment you think that your problems are permanent, the moment you think that your problems define you, you have lost the game of Life. Depression will set in and you will merely exist – and not actually live!
I learnt this lesson in 1998 from a man named Ashok, who had a HIV +ve condition. My work with YRG CARE, a pioneering center for AIDS research and education, led by the legendary Dr.Suniti Solomon, brought me in contact with Ashok. I was initially very wary of him. Although I knew how one contracted AIDS, I did not want to shake hands with or even sit next to Ashok at meetings. He sensed my discomfort and accosted me with a broad smile one day. He said: “Brother, I am HIV +ve. But I am not the disease. I cannot transfer my condition to you just because you spoke to me or shook hands with me. I know I have limited time left on this planet. And I don’t intend on living that time worrying about my condition. I am not my condition. I am just another you – perhaps with a different physical condition compared to you! Just as you have diabetes, I am HIV +ve. Please, please, feel comfortable in my presence!” What he told me hit me like a ton of bricks. Ashok passed away some years back, but the lesson I learnt from him has stayed with me.
Whatever you may be faced with, don’t ever let it get to you. Death, divorce, cancer, career crisis, bankruptcy, loss of reputation – none of these, or any other, can affect you if you don’t identify yourself with the problem. Instead face your problem, deal with it daily, but never believe that you are your problem. This is the way to inner peace when faced with any of Life’s inscrutable designs!