By Suma Varughese
When one stops taking what other people do or say personally, one is no longer in conflict with them, says Suma Varughese
Yesterday, I received a valuable learning. It was the day of my writer’s workshop and a friend of mine had signed up pretty much at the last minute, along with a friend of hers. I was happy to have her there, not just because she was a friend, but because it would swell up the number of participants, which meant more prestige for me, and also obviously, more money. However, just before the workshop started, she messaged telling me that she had a sore throat and would not be able to make it, and nor would her friend. I felt a pang of disappointment.
That evening, as I reviewed the situation, it struck me profoundly that her not coming had nothing to do with me. After all, I could hardly hold her responsible for the prestige or profit the workshop gave me. So I could not hold her absence against her. She was not coming because that is what suited her best. And she did not have to consider how that would affect me. Instantly, a small amount of resentment that I was nursing against her dissolved.
People do what they do because that is what their mind, ego selves or situations cause them to do. It has very little to do with us. Unfortunately, we take it all personally, and feel angry, jealous, hurt or sad. And when they do things that benefit us, or give a boost to our ego selves by complimenting us or showing their affection for us, we feel happy, self-congratulatory or validated. But that too has nothing to do with us.
Those who like us do so because they are capable of liking us; most of us are not universally popular, so we cannot attribute it to ourselves alone. Similarly, their paying a compliment has at least as much to do with their generosity of spirit, as it has to do with our own magnificence. There really is no connection between what others think, do or say, and how we react to it. What they do is their stuff, and how we feel about it is our stuff. And these two domains are never supposed to meet.
Alas, instead we get hopelessly entangled and create major messes in our lives. My building friend not smiling at me has nothing to do with me. Even if it is because she is angry with me, I still do not have to make it about me. If she is angry with me, she has the choice to bring it to my notice and resolve it. If she does not, can I continue to relate to her in the same manner, and not get affected by her behaviour?
This understanding is also helping me to free myself of the influence of other people’s emotional states. Whereas, earlier, their negative states would pull me down, and I would feel uncomfortable with those expressing grief, I am today able to be quite free of this influence, and therefore be more available to the other.
There really is no connection between what others think, do or say, and how we react to it.
What a profound freedom we would experience if we could detach from the stuff of others. With what judicious discrimination we would act if we did not have to ward off huge waves of disruptive emotion. Best of all, with no inner stuff to distract us, how much more open we would be to the other person, how much more available would we be to the issues and problems that are driving their behaviour, how much more accepting and loving we would be of them. With inner stuff gone, all conflict would disappear, for we and the other will be on the same side, instead of on opposing ones.
Working on getting there!
About the author : Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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