It is futile to expect people to live by your values or rise up to your standards of efficiency. So just be and let be.
Earlier this week someone pinged me asking for my time to interview me for their channel. This was the second time that this channel was approaching me. The first time I had given them an appointment, no one showed up. So, this time, I requested the lady who called me to ensure that such a boo-boo does not happen. The interview was tentatively penciled in for Sunday (today) noon. But when no confirmation or communication came forth from the channel, for two days since the request was made, I proactively wrote to the young lady late last evening saying I did not appreciate the way they were treating me – that too, a second, consecutive time. I said if they are still keen to interview, I needed to be assured of their intent, commitment and efficiency before I even accepted their invitation. The lady, of course, got back apologizing profusely. An attempt is now underway to seek me out a third – hopefully successful – time for the interview.
Last evening after I got off a WhatsApp exchange with the lady, I thought to myself that I seem to have indeed evolved over the years. And that gave me a huge sense of inner peace.
Just a decade ago, I would have been hurt and I would have been angry. I would have shredded the channel and expressed my disgust in a very loud, sharp and scathing manner. But Life is a great teacher. And I guess I am working on being a good learner.
I have understood that there are only two ways of dealing with situations and people that don’t meet your expectations. One is to fight them, in an effort to change the situation or convince the people involved to see your point of view. And the other is to simply accept things and people for what they are, communicate your displeasure unequivocally, and keep moving on. I used to fight what I thought was the good fight for the longest time – trying to change stubborn situations and people. I have never really been successful with either. What I realize is that getting angry and frustrated always left me drained and seething with negativity. Worse, the negativity would fester in me for much longer after an outburst or showdown. I loathed that feeling. I disliked me in those times. Soon I discovered two truths – one, situations that are not in your control cannot be changed or turned around by you and two, people that let you down often do so only because they believe they are right in what they are doing. So what is the point in being angry with either such situations or people? I have employed this learning, this awakening, in Life ever since, and it has worked beautifully for me.
Basically, you must only work to protect your inner peace. You and only you are responsible for your inner peace. If someone is trying to ride roughshod over you for whatever reason – out of their inefficiencies, or circumstances or insensitivity – politely tell them that you don’t appreciate the way you are being treated. And move on. Don’t preach. Don’t rant. Don’t try to change them. Protect your inner peace. Period. If something, an event, a situation is causing you discomfort, and pain, try to move away. For example, if you are in a job, working with colleagues that you don’t get along with, work on changing your job. If you can’t change your job, accept your reality for what it is, the way it is, and stop complaining. Almost instantaneously your inner peace will be restored. Now, at least a lousy job situation can be changed over time. But what about a critical health challenge or the death of someone you love? There are situations in Life which are non-reversible, unchangeable. Complaining and grieving then is of no use. Only acceptance of what is can help you anchor in peace.
I have also understood that every person you know on this planet is going through their own Life situations. How they interact with the world around them – that includes you – has a lot to do with what they are experiencing in Life and how they are feeling within them. There is almost always no conspiracy against you in particular. If you stop imagining the conspiracy theory, there will be no more villains in your Life’s story. Then, everyone is a fellow voyager. Everyone is struggling, stumbling, falling, getting up and clutching on to their metaphorical last straws – just as you are! So, help them if you can by letting them be. And help yourself by just being and protecting your inner peace – because, no one else ever will!
Refusing to be provoked by people and events around you is a skill. You can train yourself in it.
Exasperated that I was not understood and that my sage counsel was not heeded, I gave the agent a very firm dressing down. I was sharp and critical – though I did not raise my voice – and communicated my intense displeasure. The agent, a lady, refused to react. She merely said that we must go to the next step. Which was to check the device’s specs on the online, browser interface. I protested again because I did not want to go through a tech process. The agent just repeated the same line she had just said. I said I was not convinced. She did not show any sign of irritation over my rigid stance. She just repeated herself. I gave up protesting, gave in and followed her instructions to check the device’s specs online. We drew a blank there too as the online browser interface said that the SIM card wasn’t inserted in the device – whereas it pretty much was lodged in it! At this point I told the lady, rather rabidly, that she must own up if there was a network issue in my area and not lead me on a wild goose chase. She simply said that she would have to send a technician over to my place. When I said I needed this support now, today, before 12 noon, she calmly replied saying that she cannot see it happening for the next 4 days given the weekend and the list of pending calls in my areas. I tried telling her in no uncertain terms that she was being very unhelpful, very cold and unempathetic. She didn’t react. She simply gave me my service ticket number and asked me if I had any more queries. I told her I was very dissatisfied with the call and the support she had offered. She merely repeated if I had any more queries. I thanked her brusquely and hung up.
After the call, I sat at my desk for a full 5 minutes just meditating on the conversation and the experience. On the face of it, this lady may appear to be a lousy customer support agent. But my meditation helped me glean and takeaway some important learnings. Logically, theoretically, she wasn’t at fault personally for my woes. She could have sounded irritated or defensive as I riled against her. Yet she was unmoved. There was intense provocation with my irritability, my tone and my resistance to follow her technical support process. But she succumbed to none of that. She was clinical in not reacting. Perhaps she was very well trained to handle irate customers. Perhaps she is an evolved person who separates emotions from actions or responses. Perhaps she is so used to handling such thankless work that she has become immune to any provocation. And that’s exactly my learning.
Through this agent this morning, I relearnt an art. Which is the art of being unmoved in the face of provocation. Think about it. Almost all the time we are reacting to people, situations and emotions. In a given day, we have so many different reasons to be provoked. If we react to each stimuli, we are expending so much energy. We are generating so much negativity within us with each reaction – cursing someone who cuts our way on the road, trying to battle a colleague who sets up obstacles in critical processes at work, reasoning with a spouse who refuses to understand, catering to every whim of a very demanding child, coping hopelessly with a painful health issue and whatever else. Equanimity is not rocket science. It is a skill. You can train yourself in it. Just as you can train yourself to cook, to swim, to sing or to drive. It involves training the mind to be responsive and not reactive. A mind that has been trained will be aware. It will weigh each thought, each action before letting it move on. Awareness helps conserve positive energy, insulates you from negativity and helps you remain calm despite the circumstances or provocations.
At the end of the 5 minute meditation, I sent a prayer out for the agent. As a customer of Airtel I surely feel short-changed. But as a fellow voyager through Life, I feel enriched. So I sent a prayer in gratitude to the agent for the opportunity to relearn an art form and for helping me along in protecting my inner peace.
If you cannot get along with someone, so be it. Try to understand that someone. If you can’t, don’t force yourself to and don’t grieve. Just let things be.
At the core of all human conflict is a lack of understanding between people. Now, if two people develop a lack of understanding between them, they can first – and must – attempt to understand each other. It is because each sees their point of view as right, as the truth, that there is a stand-off.
A good way to begin a reconciliation is to see the other person’s point of view, her or his truth, and review your own. Can their truth be a part of yours? Can yours be a part of theirs? If neither approach works, just agree to disagree and move on. Bottomline: don’t feed the negativity that the difference of opinion has created in the first place.
But what do you do when the other person is close relative, a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, a colleague – someone who you must (or have to) interact with on a daily basis? What if the other person does not even want to resolve the issue, does not want to understand you, your point of view or your truth? Well, I would advise that you make the same effort: try to either erase the negativity or try not to feed it anymore. But despite your best intentions and initiative, if nothing is working out, just let it be. Be operationally available and cordial. And stay away from any additional interactions.
In a third scenario when the person’s presence itself is a source of negativity in you, when you feel that each time you are in her or his company, you see your inner peace being destroyed, well, try to work on a physical separation from that person. This may seem improbable as a suggestion often only because the relationship you have with the person may be too complex to afford a physical peeling off. Even so, if something has to be done in the interests of protecting your inner peace, you have to do it. Nobody can do this for you. What must be done, must be done. Here’s the moot point: either you do what you must do about protecting your inner peace or you stop complaining about a situation that ruins your inner peace!
Always remember this: our lives are too short for us to dwell on the pettiness of things that some people drag us into. If you want inner peace, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure it arrives in your Life and it stays protected. Besides, if you actually pause and examine all the relationships in your Life that require repairing, people who are genuinely interested in you, in them and in positivity, will see your truth. Or they will invite you to see theirs. Those who do none of this, those who want the negativity to fester and breed, really don’t deserve your respect, attention or time. Let them wallow in their ruinous machinations. You just move on!
If you are tuned to your negativity, you will never experience abundance!
Recently we were told by someone, who was considering having me address her customers, that she did not want us to talk about the spiritual lessons we have learnt from our bankruptcy at her place, because she feared that the negativity “from us and our sharing” will get “absorbed” in and by her place. “The energies of a bankruptcy are very negative. I don’t want you to bring these into our place,” she said. Vaani and I looked at each other. And smiled. We didn’t say anything to clarify or to defend. We simply thanked our prospective host and left. When we got into our Uber we shared our perspectives with each other. And we concurred: “The physical dimension of a bankruptcy can and will impact anybody’s material Life – just as it has impacted Vaani’s and mine. But only those who are spiritually bankrupt will be consumed by their fears and insecurities.”
I appreciate the lady for being open with her point of view. And I believe she will learn and evolve through Life as she journeys along. Even I have learnt only this way!
This episode reminds me of an incident from 12 years ago. I was looking for an antique desk for my office, for me to work from. I finally found one at a store dealing with period furniture in T.Nagar (Chennai). Just as I was about to swipe my credit card (in those days I had one with a credit limit available on it!) and buy it, I called up my vaastu consultant to review the desk’s dimensions. When he heard that I was planning to buy it from a used-furniture store, he forbade me from doing so. He said, “Who knows what that desk has seen? Perhaps a bankruptcy? The energies of the desk will impact your decisions and your business. So, please don’t buy it.” I was heavily reliant on his advice and did not take any decisions that were not vaastu-compliant back then. So, I dropped the idea of buying that desk and instead had one custom-made by a carpenter to match my vaastu consultant’s prescribed dimensions. Yet, just three years later, my business went famously bankrupt. And, as is public knowledge by now, I am still trying to deal with its aftermath, still trying to pick up the pieces, still struggling to get our business back on track. One day, during my mouna (daily practice of observing a period of silence) session, some years back, when I reflected on the vaastu consultant’s advice and my decision to heed him, it became clear to me that we are not our circumstances. Life is just a series of events that keeps on happening to us. But we are not those events. So, simply, you are not your bankruptcy or your cancer or your divorce or your joblessness or your quadriplegia. Therefore, you have a choice and the opportunity to feel and be positive no matter what your circumstances are. And if at all there is any negativity, it is in you, in your mind, not in the circumstances or objects or things around you. Yes, some people you encounter will be feeling negative, but their negativity cannot touch you unless you let it come into your Life.
The reason why Vaani and I wear our Life on our sleeves, why we go and share our story with people, with whoever cares to pause and reflect, is because we want people to know that it is possible to be positive, peaceful and happy despite their circumstances. In all our sharing, we have only found people who have opened the doors of their hearts and homes to us. We have found compassion, love and humanity thriving all around. The odd people here and there don’t get this perspective. But we don’t judge them or grudge them. We understand that it takes spiritual evolution – a.k.a learning from Life – to appreciate this point of view.
The untrained mind will fear negativity from everything and everyone around, because it is steeped in insecurity. But the evolved mind will fear nothing – neither human nor circumstance. Because, it is willing to unconditionally, unquestioningly, flow with the present, with what is! And there is only abundance in the present moment! Bottomline: you will smell negativity only when you miss the aura of abundance in you, around you!