There are more people out there who are willing to help, than those who you fear may want to exploit you.
A young reader messaged me through my App (‘AVIS Viswanathan’ – available for Free Download on Google Play and the AppStore) the other day after reading my Book, Fall Like A Rose Petal. She had this to say: “Thanks for writing the Book. What you shared made so much sense to me. But you have shared so openly. You have been brutally honest. Don’t you at all feel vulnerable? Didn’t you think you will be judged? Don’t you feel insecure that your story, and its stark details, will lead to people taking you for granted or even exploiting you?”
I feel my reader’s point of view is founded on how we believe the world we live in is. This is how most of us see ourselves and the people around us. We imagine we are vulnerable and that the world is full of hawk-like people who want to exploit our vulnerability. From my experience though, I want to tell everyone – as I told this reader – that we are totally, totally, wrong if we hold that view.
Sharing makes people relate to you and your story. Sharing makes you draw on and gain from the positive energy that people around you are offering you. Sharing makes you realize that, not just you, but everyone out there is dealing with a situation – you can learn from them and they can learn from you. No one has exploited me or my wife Vaani because we have laid bare our Life in my Book or in my Talks or through Events we conduct to promote the idea that you can be happy despite your circumstances.
Vaani and I have found, again and again, that behind every face, there is a beating heart and a personal story. People may not be willing to immediately share their stories just because you share yours. But they can relate to your story. Their relating to you and your story makes them compassionate. This is what the “milk of human kindness” is all about. So, we have never felt vulnerable or cheated or exploited. We have always found ourselves being understood and cared for – again and again and again. My Book and my Blogposts/Talks are peppered with stories of how people have come forward and helped us every single time – with money, with their unconditional support, and with their understanding. We remain soaked in gratitude and humility.
Yes, there have been – and continue to be – a few who judge us and refuse to trust us. But I believe even they can’t exploit us. Because when you lay yourself bare, there is nothing anyone can do to you anymore.
Wear your Life on your sleeve. Be honest. Share. Only then can you see what a beautiful world this is – full of kind, caring, compassionate folks!
Wear your Life on your sleeve.
Yesterday we met a reader of my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal. He had traveled all the way from Bangalore to meet us. He said that his Life was in a shambles, he was deep in debt and his wife had “almost disowned” him. “I am lonely. I have nobody in the world,” he said, fighting back his tears.
Vaani told him reassuringly that he’s not as alone as he imagines. “We are here. The very fact that we are meeting you shows that we care,” she explained.
That’s so true. None of us is as lonely as we imagine we are. If only we step out and share our stories to the people around us – even to random strangers – we will find compassion and kindness in places where we least expect to find them.
I remember a night, from some years ago, when I was sitting alone and drinking in a hotel’s bar in Chicago. A lady joined me on the bar stool next to me. And soon she got talking to me. She said she was lonely and had contemplated going to the “edge” of Lake Michigan which was just across the highway from our hotel. I asked her to why she felt lonely. And she told me her story. Her 10-year-old marriage had ended badly, her new boyfriend was cheating on her and she was out of job – facing a string of rejections in every new place that she applied to. “I see no point in this Life,” she said, breaking into a sob. I asked her stop drinking and go back to her room in the hotel. I told her to get up the next morning and instead of going to the “edge” of Lake Michigan, I suggested that she walk along Lakeshore Drive. I told her: “Ask yourself this – if you had no problems in Life, what would you like doing? Focus on that one thing. And go do it.” Though I didn’t expect her to follow my advice, she actually gulped her drink down, bade me good night and went away.
Two days later, I saw her again in the coffee shop of the hotel. She rushed towards me, shook my hands joyfully and said, “I took your suggestion seriously. I walked along Lakeshore Drive and asked myself what did I want to do with my Life? It wasn’t a difficult question. Because all my Life I wanted to be a musician. So, I have decided to go join a music school and be a musician.” As she spoke, her eyes lit up, she beamed a radiant smile and oozed positivity.
I asked her: “So, between two nights ago and today, what has changed? What made you transform yourself from being lost, forlorn and lonely to being so full of Life?”
“Well, I guess, I shared. And when I shared, you helped me with perspective. I don’t think I was lonely really. I was just imagining so. And I was keeping so much bottled up within me – not just my emotions but also my deepest aspiration,” she explained.
And that’s so true of so, so many of us. We only imagine that we are lonely. In reality, the world is a warm, compassionate place with a lot of warm, friendly, loving, caring people. To connect with them, you just have to open up, you just have to wear your Life on your sleeve and you will always find people willing to hold your hand and help you along your way!