Category Archives: Relationships

Personal Growth Relationships

What if those close to you are negative?

There is a lot of personal development literature out there that talks about the importance of keeping good company. I have myself written about it in a lot of posts.

I feel the company we keep affects our attitudes and, consequently, the direction of our lives. The opposite seems to happen too, we affect the attitudes of the company of which we are a part.

A balance of energy

If you stay with those whom you find negative, you feel a pull down in your enthusiasm for life. There is, I feel, a balance of life force that happens when you are with other people. If they are negative compared to you, they feel a bit pulled up in your presence but you feel pulled down. On the other hand, if they are more positive, you get the benefit of an upward pull while they are pulled down.

Also, in the case of a crowd,  this balance seems to tilt in favor of the majority. If you are a lone negative with a lot of positive people, you will be constantly motivated to improve while they might feel just a little pull down. If you are a lone positive among a lot of negative people, they might feel only a little pull up, but you will feel pulled down a lot. When this continues long enough, your positivity gets pulled down for good and you get habituated to the new balance, until you decide enough is enough and break out of this company.

In light of this realization, it is only natural to look for positive company, something at least at par with your own attitudes.

But…

What if your family is negative?

There are certain humans you are dealt with.  There is a certain place and a certain society you were born into. You didn’t choose them, they were given to you. Some, who believe in past lives and karma, or the Law of Attraction, might say we choose our parents and surroundings. But, for the sake of this article, I will assume that we don’t.

When those around you seem full of negativity, should you severe the deep bonds you have with them and leave for more positive people? Or should you stay where you are and try to make the best of what and whom you were dealt with?

If you stay, you will probably be pulled down into negativity. If you don’t, you might be severing ties with those whom you have had a long and deep connection with.

Let me add another question here…

Would a continuous improvement path leave you with no friends in the end?

If you are looking for positive company all the time, where does this bond-snapping stop? No human is perfect and you will never find one. When you continuously improve, you might find those whom you see positive today, seem negative and below your level some day. Wouldn’t that leave you totally alone in the end?

There are probably no straight answers, no black and white guidelines here. The only thing that I will suggest here is – listen deeply and intently to what your heart is saying.

If your heart says stay, stay. Work to make the best of what you have. If it says detach, then detach.. It is OK to move away from your nearest and dearest. As I mention in this post, it might be good for them too.

I also think it is important that you separate your heart’s voice from that of the ego’s. Don’t decide in anger, or sadness, or fear… decide in calmness, in peace and in awareness. If you can’t find that calm within you, try to create it first. It is important to connect to the heart before deciding.

To create the right state of mind, you can try following these steps – 5 steps to creating a conscious life.

When you keep following the heart(your intuition), it seems to me that you sort of shut yourself from external stimuli. The negativity of those around doesn’t affect you as much, if at all. All your senses and your focus are aligned to one point, and that point is deep within your self, it is your essesnce speaking to you. You then witness your attitude and your life unfolding naturally from within you.

When you following this voice truly, it is my experience that there is no sense of separation from others, not for long. In time, you see a deep connection with them and start working towards common good. The detachment, if it happens, is now just a physical thing, you still see the far deeper bonds and know they are always there. The question of being left alone vanishes.

If you decide to leave…

If you feel it in your heart to leave, here are a few things I would like to say to you :

I think most people blow the idea of leaving their loved ones out of proportion.

When you leave, it is not like you leave them for ever, you are just detaching for a while. There will be lessons that you learn, new realizations, that you might not have had, had you stayed. You might start seeing their actions and attitudes in a new light and they may not affect you anymore. Or you might find some problem in your own outlook and will see how you can improve.

In my experience, there comes a time when you will feel the urge to get back to them. But this time, you are a changed person, you handle things differently, you also have new insights and realizations, insights that not only help you but potentially you loved ones too.

You might find that your bond grows deeper as a result of such a detachment.

So, if you see that you have to leave for a while, don’t resist it out of a sense of loyalty, you will only be stifling your heart’s natural path. Let it happen, flow with it, enjoy it, learn from it.

What about the feelings of your loved ones?

In the meantime, how would your loved ones cope up? I think, there will always be a certain discomfort. Most people resist change. They are comfortable with the way things are, even when they are complaining about it. But past this discomfort, they will find a way to continue. In fact, your decision to leave might even make them face the problems they had been avoiding and work on them.

This of course requires sensitivity on your part. If a family member is prone to depression and has a heart problem, you don’t want to give that person a rude shock by just walking out. Be sensitive, compassionate yet firm with them.

*****

Remember that whether you stay or leave, neither is a better choice over the other. Don’t judge yourself or feel guilty because of your choice.

Your heart will lead you to a lot of learning, it will lead you to discomfort sometimes, but it will keep you close to your essence, it will keep you growing and expanding into your best self. And I have a strong feeling, that, in the long run, it will ensure you act in a way that improves your life and that of the people around you.

Until next time…

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Consciousness Courage Personal Growth Relationships

The allegory of the cave

Below is a video representation of a very popular and interesting allegory(A story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning) by Plato called, The Allegory of the Cave. Different people might arrive at different meanings from it and that makes it even more interesting. Go through it once if you will.

When I first came across this allegory, it re-raised some of the questions I have faced before. I will discuss them in short but, for those who decided to skip the video, …

A short description

In short, there are people inside a cave who are tied in a way that they cannot see the entrance to the cave. They have been in this state for ever. They only see some shadows forming on the opposite wall and think these shadows are real(as opposed to being caused by something else). One of these people becomes free and goes outside the cave for a while. He gets to see that shadows are not real and are caused by other ‘real’ objects. He sees the world, the sun, the Earth, different forms of life… everything.

After getting this better understanding of reality, he decides to go back to the cave where his former friends are. Because it is dark inside, he has difficulty seeing things. His friends are busy discussing the shadows they see. They notice that the enlightened one cannot see as well as before.

When he tells his freinds that what they are seeing is unreal and that these shadows are infact caused by some other things, they laugh at him. They say he made a fruitless effort to go outside and check things. The only thing he managed was a poor eye sight. When he persists, they fear he will corrupt others and decide to kill him.

This allegory, among other important insights, shows what effect an individual’s improvement in wisdom has on his relationship with others around him.

Here are some questions that this allegory raised in my mind –

Should the enlightened one return to the cave?

Should the enlightened one go back to the cave, knowing that trying to talk sense into the people there can be dangerous?

Maybe you can relate to his plight. Maybe you have progressed in life and have now come to a place where, when you look back to the people you were once among, you feel they are burdened by a lot of illusions, fears, myths etc. Would you go back to them and try to help them see reality in a better light? Would you try to improve their lives at the risk of being misunderstood, mocked or worse, punished? Or would you leave those ignorant and ungrateful people behind, knowing that trying to help them can backfire on you, and just move on ahead in your life?

If you decide to go back, do you think you will be able to cope with the loneliness of being the odd one out? Would you be able to cope with the initial suspicion and hostility? Would you be able to cope with the uncertainty?

In other words, would you be, what Plato calls, the sun who provides life to all creation by burning itself in the process?

Or maybe you have decided not to go back. Do you think you are generally happy with your life? Do you feel satisfied and feel no pull towards your past?

Probably a middle path can be carved out. But what could be such a path, that ensures your safety(to whatever extent it can be ensured) while you still try to help people? And you will still be leaving a lot of comfort and security, and accepting discomfort and doubts.

The wise man’s burden? Is it?

Do you really know better or is it just your ego?

And how does one know (s)he is enlightened?

Does making more money make you enlightened? Do you become enlightened just by spending more time on this Earth? Does seeing different people and experiencing different cultures make you enlightened? And correspondingly, those who don’t go out too much(but probably look a lot inside), are they necessarily unenlightened?

If you think about this allegory, the people sitting inside the cave also believe they know reality. In real life, all of us think we understand things well enough. Things are probably more clear to us about the allegory because we are observing the events in third person, because the illusion here is about something we all agree upon(whether shadows are real objects or formed by something else) and find very simple to understand. But when we are among people and are discussing not so obvious things about life, how do we know that we know better than the rest?

Remember that Plato’s Guru, Socrates, said that “All I know is that I know nothing”.

Is the pursuit of enlightenment a path of sorrow?

Does the search of enlightenment and wisdom invariably lead to loneliness and sorrow? Does it necessarily have to invite hostility and mockery from others?

Most spiritual texts might say that ultimate enlightenment takes you to a state of bliss, it takes you away from the sufferings of this mortal world. But then who knows?… As far as can be seen from this allegory, the search of wisdom is not comfortable. It can lead you to your death too. Is it really worth knowing these truths if they result in alienation and mortal danger?

Can ignorance be really bliss? If you believe ignorance is bliss, then, once you are out of the cave, would you wish you had not gone out. Would you wish you were just sitting there with your old friends, discussing the nature of the shadows and anticipating what would come next, feeling very smart in the process? If you coveat ignorance, would you really want to be an ignorant child again, believing in fairy tales, ghosts and what not, dependant totally on your parents and guardians for sustenance in the real world?

*****

For this post, I felt like not providing my own ideas on the questions raised. I just wanted to raise some doubts and questions in your mind and then leave you to grapple with these questions, ponder over them and see what answers appeal to you. I would love to read your thoughts in comments below.

Until next time…

Relationships

Changing others for the better

In our living room and coffee table discussions, so many of us wonder why people(especially the ones we consider less in stature than us) can’t see what is so obviously good for them. Some of us also strive to change these people for their own good.

Their attitudes and habits often lead to uncomfortable situations that irritate us. We feel an even stronger revulsion to their attitudes and an even stronger urge to change their ways.

And this is not limited to those lesser in stature, so many of us try to control our peers in office, our family members and our friends. We try to change them because we know what we are doing will be for every one’s good. It will make everyone happy in the long run.

What makes people happy?

I think before trying to change others, one needs to decide what really makes people happy. Is it different things for different people? Is it, at it’s core, the same set of things?

It has been my experience that, on the surface at least, different people like and enjoy different things. Different people even have different ideas of right and wrong. In fact, most fights among individuals, or groups, seem to be the result of such differences.

Now, for us as individuals, it is a huge task to understand what makes us happy ourselves. Most of us, if we look back at our lives, will find that we have pursued happiness in different things, only to find later that we were looking in the wrong place. So many of us, at some point in the past, craved for the very job that we so hate now. So many of us wanted to be in a loving relationship. Only now, it is not so loving anymore. So many of us wanted to make money. And today, inspite of making more of it than we ever dreamed of, we don’t seem to be any happier than when we started out.

No, it is not easy for us to find what really makes us happy.

So what is the point in deciding for others what we can’t seem to decide for ourselves? While it is difficult to find our own happiness, it is almost impossible to find what makes someone else happy.

Why don’t people do what is right for them?

How many of us find ourselves guilty of not doing what we know to be right? We know what we have to do to feel better(exercise more, watch less TV, spend less time on the internet and more with friends and family, take less stress at work etc etc), yet we just can’t seem to get ourselves to do all this.

It is so difficult to get our own selves to do what we have decided in our minds to be right. It is difficult to break out of our comfort zones. So what is the point in expecting others to follow what we think is right?

So what is the best we can do?

The best we can strive for, is to look for what makes our own selves happy, and to try regulate and control our own efforts.

Let go of the urge to control others. Just decide your response to what others do. Does someone try to make fun of you? Would you ignore this person? Would you leave their company? Would you fight back? Whatever you decide, understand that it is your own response that you can modulate.

Now here is something interesting – when you focus on finding what makes you happy and change yourself to get there, you motivate others, through your example, to do the same. In other words, when you change yourself, the world around you starts changing.

It doesn’t happen in a controlled way, it doesn’t happen according to what someone may have anticipated. But it happens in a very pleasant way. You start feeling good when you focus on changing yourself. And it gets better when others take a cue from you, on their own, and start making some changes in them selves.

Things start falling in place, you start enjoying the world around you. Note that this change happens in 2 simultaneous ways – first, you stop expecting the world to change, you adapt to it. This kills expectations and the troubles caused due to them, And second, when you stop trying to change the world and focus on yourself, the world takes notice and starts adapting to you!

This is how positive change happens. The world surrounding you starts changing when you focus on improving yourself.

Societies change when individuals in it start looking inwards for change and happiness.

*****

Letting go off the urge to control others and only focusing on your own response makes things so much easier and simple. When the focus moves away from controlling others, you get to see them for what they are, you can now start connecting with their core self. It is now that you will start sharing happiness with them.

 Image: Salvatore Vuono

Courage Relationships Wellness

When you have been wronged

Most of us, at some point or the other, feel that we have been wronged by someone.

If you are going through that phase, you feel what the person did was absolutely wrong, selfish, and/or with malicious intent. You can see their sneering face, every time you think of it. You feel angry, and you feel strongly that they should be made to realize the bad they have done, feel sorry for their mistake and pay for it.

All that was good in your life is now overshadowed by the weight of this heavy feeling. Your happiness now seems to be hostage to what they do now and what gets done to them. read more »

Personal Growth Relationships

10 tips to go from angry to happy

While generally perceived as bad, anger is a normal and healthy emotion. It keeps us stimulated and ready for action under a threatening situation. It can be a life saver.

Of course, it is a very strong emotion. If not controlled and channelized properly, it can turn into the very opposite of what it is supposed to do, it can cause us harm. read more »