Personal Growth - Change Yourself
by Akber Ayub
Living within a social milieu in a world that is far from perfect, life is often a roller-coaster ride of needs not met, broken promises, dashed hopes, bruised egos, and reconciliations, not to mention fleeting joys, and the quest for lasting happiness. Why is God’s world so uncertain, so unsettling, and so harsh? How often have you bristled at a seeming injustice, an unfair retribution, or a slur? Time might heal the wounds or you might discover the wisdom of forgiveness. Life will probably find its balance, its equilibrium – until it is derailed once again! How do you make sense of this quagmire? Is there a way out of this tangle?
One of the golden rules of life says: inside every problem lie the seeds of its solution. Cast your mind to the nub of this vexing problem and the solution stands out clear as daylight: you cannot change the world. You cannot change others; you can only change yourself! Yes, that is all you will ever be able to change, that is all you ever need to change.
People tread on a pavement but not on a bed of roses. You do not blame someone for walking on the pavement, but no right thinking person will trample a flowerbed. A garbage dump will only attract garbage while a garden attracts bees and butterflies. Who is to blame if you have qualities within you that invite baser instincts from others? You can fault others of course; paint them in all possible negative colours, then wallow in self-pity for good measure, or indulge in self-retribution, or simmer in anger and get spiteful. That would be no skin off anyone’s nose. Can you see how self-defeating it is? You might prick someone’s conscience for a while; you might cast aspersions on someone and succeed in evoking guilt, you might score a point, you might buy loyalty for sometime – however, these are all transient. They will not last – because they are induced, or coerced. Inducing guilt, remorse, pity or nudging someone’s conscience briefly will not buy you salvation. You need to get to the crux of the matter – you! Get to know your inner world. Set it right and the outer world will change towards you. That is the only way it will ever work.
That might sound good in theory, but how hard is it to put into practice? Primarily, look out for these giveaways. Other people’s behaviour towards you is usually a reflection of your own inner self. You can find within you kernels of those very same behaviour that you find directed towards you – those that you detest and those that you adore. The truth is, you will find your own inner world reflected in others’ conduct and deportment towards you. Once you know this truth, you can see yourself in the bright light of reality as clearly as in a mirror. Stop blaming the mirror or the reflection, instead, change the nature of the object and its reflection will change automatically. It is as simple as that. Life’s golden rules are always deceptively simple. The difficulty is in implementing them.
To recap, if you find people are overly aggressive towards you, find out if you are needlessly aggressive yourself. If you find you do not get enough recognition for what you do, find out if you are perhaps stingy with praise. If you find money is always in short supply find out if you are niggardly, perhaps to the extent of even holding back on tips or begrudge another’s good fortune. If you find your social life choking up, perhaps you are overly possessive of your spouse or children, infringing on his or her breathing space. For the same reason, if you find people helpful and encouraging, that is probably how others find you. Acknowledging a quality in yourself or others has the power to strengthen it. While that is desirable in case of positive traits and virtues, when it comes to negative traits, you need to first recognise them, and then take steps to weed them out lest they become entrenched in you even more. However, here lies the difficulty. Fortunately, there is help – your mind and its untapped potential. Like in any other endeavour, you need to first be organised, get your facts, and then chalk out a plan. From the way the world treats you; you know what needs to change within you. Instead of simmering with indignation or plotting revenge, look inward and find out what gets you this kind of reaction in the first place. A conscious effort to accomplish a task, a will and desire are powerful tools. Use them to reach your goals. If you find that some traits in you are stubborn, refusing to budge, look for their underlying cause. How did it become part of your personality in the first place? Get to its roots and see if you can disengage its tentacles. Get professional help where required. As the talons of these self-defeating behaviours loosen their grip on your mind, replace them with their positive counterparts – callousness with understanding, self-serving attitudes with kindness and empathy, restricting behaviours with openness and candour, grudge and envy with the awareness that you are worthy of good fortunes too, and so on. Once you have tilled the hard, unyielding soil of your mind and cast aside the weeds, you have then made it ready to receive fresh new seeds of change. Gradually your new positive traits will supplant the earlier noxious ones.
If you still find difficulties in some areas it probably means you are not ready yet for those positive changes to take place. You still need to learn your lessons in life before you can move on. You will have to face those difficulties, work with them until insights reveal your life’s lessons. Sometimes your negative traits might act as a catalyst for someone else in your life to learn a lesson and change (in most cases, this is what is behind marital discord and parent-child relationship issues). You will be free of those dark areas, once you have accomplished that task or succeeded in integrating the lessons you learned into your life. This might be the age of fast foods and supercomputers but when it comes to mind matters and life’s lessons there are no short cuts; you will have to go through the intricate process that nature has devised for our progress and evolution. If flowers can bloom when you de-weed the soil and replant, life can bloom too when you detoxify the mind and implant desirable qualities. Unwittingly, do not nurture negativity within you then wonder why life is treating you badly. Stop being a victim of your old habits and attitudes. Wake up to the hidden powers of these negative forces in your life, go through the process of cleansing and pave the way for happiness and fulfilment to enter your life.
Akber Ayub is a mechanical engineer by profession, an ex-marine engineer, ex-industrialist and finally, following his heart, now a writer.
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