Focus on the issue on hand – not on the people and not on the emotions they are fanning!
Late last evening, a situation that we are involved in, blew up in our face. It was yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of our bankruptcy (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal). Someone we know manipulated the whole situation and made it a circus, an emotional drama, in our circle of influence. In this time, we had two choices, either douse the fires caused by the drama or do what is appropriate – remaining detached and focusing on the issue on hand. We decided to do the latter. So, even as the circus played on, we went about the task we felt had to be executed immediately – and we did it with a clinical focus! This episode is far from over, but we have done the best we can do in the given circumstances.
If you think about Life calmly, it always boils down to the choices you make. And the best way to make a choice in any situation where you are swayed by emotion is to do only what you believe in. You have to do what you have to do. Simple. When you make that choice, chances are you may hurt others in the bargain. You may even feel uncomfortable when executing your choice. But eventually, unless you do what you have to do, you can never be at peace with yourself. Your inner peace, above all, is sacrosanct. Don’t let anyone or anything disturb it.
This perspective holds true particularly in contexts when people around you are being manipulative, slimy, or are simply insensitive, and are raking up emotions. I always find it useful to remove all personalities from the picture. And focus on the issue. I ask myself – what’s going on, what needs to be done and how can I do it? The moment you bring in factors like who is doing what or how can I deal with so-and-so person, how are they doing this to me and such, you are playing into the emotional drama. Then you are not thinking with freedom and clarity. You are just adding to the already explosive situation. Blowing things up, out of proportion, really serves nobody’s purpose.
The bottomline is this. There may be situations in Life when you may end up finding yourself where too many people may be saying or doing too many things. Emotions may be running high. Please don’t capitulate and play into all that drama. Take a deep breath. Think calmly and just go do what you have to do. Focus on the issue on hand than on the personalities involved. Don’t think in terms of what is right and what is wrong – that will always be subjective. Instead think on what can make you feel peaceful – and just go do it. Remember: whether you like it or not, whether others like it or not, you have to do what you have to do!
You do something only because you think it is the right thing to do in the first place!
Almost all of us are taking decisions all the time. Right from choosing whether you want your coffee cold or hot at a café, to deciding whether or not to end a relationship, we are always in decision-making mode. Big or small, if you examine your Life closely, each moment is decisive. The truth is also that while some decisions work well, some don’t. When a decision backfires distill the learnings from the experience and move on. If you don’t and instead choose to brood over your decision, you will surely grieve and suffer.
Yesterday, a gentleman called me saying his business was in dire straits. He said he had made some strategic decisions five years ago which had not worked well for him. He wanted to know how to get rid of the guilt that he was carrying in him. I told him what I often tell myself: “Guilt is a wasted emotion. It serves no purpose. You did what you thought was right. That’s why you did it in the first place. Now, in hindsight, if the decision has backfired, is there any point in grieving over it?” “Instead”, I advised the gentleman, “look at what the experience taught you and what you can learn from it.”
Now even when a decision works in your favor, it is important you see the learnings there. If you find it difficult to focus on the learnings, the reason is simply this: your ego comes in the way. If the decision you made worked, you feel that “I did it!” and if it didn’t work you say “I blew it all up!” Either way, the “I” comes in between you and the learnings. So, drop the “I”. That’s when you will learn from each of your experiences.
It is that simple. That elementary. A decision once taken is history. Your learning from it can however help you along the way in Life!