Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dealing with relationships.

Dealing with relationships.
I think the number one problem for everyone is dealing with relationships. One
is forced into dealing with people as a active member of society. And
unfortunately (and seemingly always!) suprisingly people do not behave the way
you want them to. They do not subscribe to your value structure, your
priorities, your viewpoints. And guess what - this is precisely the way "they"
feel about "you"!!
What does this mean? Who we are, our thoughts, our personas, are shaped by a
million factors - our vasanas, our upbringing, our parents, our environment, our
education, and so on.

How then do deal with people I am forced to deal with who may not be on my
wavelength without allowing my emotions to get me carried away. These could
include my spouse, my children, my parents, my in-laws, my work-colleagues(boss,
employer, employee, etc), my friends, etc

Method one is acceptance.
This is often misunderstood to be martyrdom.
The former is cowardice, unhealthy and constitutes violence to oneself.
Acceptance is a mature and pragmatic approach to life.
Try to achieve an objective viewpoint about your situation. The first step is to
try and understand the other person's standpoint - believe it or not there
always IS one! Understand that the way the other person behaves or talks is
exactly how you or anyone would have behaved had you been in the exact same
position, with the exact same baggage, - why? Because human behavior is also
part of the very-same infallible Order as everything in the Cosmos. Why you are
you and no one else and why you are where you are and no where else and why you
are how you are and no how else is exactly and completely applicable to the very
other person you are dealing with, and is exactly as it was "meant to be"
(Of course in the heat of battle this understanding may be impossible, hence
withdraw from the scene if possible and reflect on the situation in a more calm
frame of mind.)
This attitude of understanding builds compassion, empathy and most importantly
objectivity. Try to see how you could change to better align yourself with this
person's wavelength without compromising on your own ethics and integrity. Also
see where you could be less judgemental about the other person. One cardinal
rule- you can never change another person, never ever. Only the other person can
change himself and that too ONLY when he or she perceives a value in that
change. So reinforce this rule in your own mind - nothing that I do or say is
ever going to effect one iota of change in this person - the one and only
consequence of such a misguided effort on my part will be fostering more
tempests of agitation in my own mind.
After an objective analysis try to change either your own attitudes, or
expectations, or the circumstances contributing to the problem.
If this is not successful or sufficient, pray.
"O Lord grant me the strength and capacity to change what I can change, and the
fortitude to endure what I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference!"

And most importantly be understanding of the one person who is likely to be your
only companion till he or she dies - your self! Being self-judgemental instead
of being self-analytical is also a sure recipe for mental tribulations.

Method 2 is role-play.
Compatmentalize your entire life into roles. Just like a Bachan or a De Niro
carries every role with such conviction, constantly and prior to every action
remind yourself of which role you are currently being asked to play.
When you start your day with a prayer always remind yourself that all that you
will be called to do today, all your interactions, are your offerings to the
Supreme- just as we chant when ending the daily Sandhya ritual - karomi yad yad
sakalam parasmai Narayana yeti samarpayami.
So if I am interacting with a errant son, let me act, and not react. Let me
fulfil the role with full conviction, let my emotions not get me too carried
away lest I forget myself in the role. So if a particular role at a particular
time calls on me to play a "bad cop", then I do that with de-liberation. Not as
a knee-jerk angry or upset reaction but as a matter-of-fact aware action. This
way I am better able to switch between roles. I move from studio A where I play
a beggar to studio B where I play a King to studio C where I play a dying
patient to studio D where I play a brave soldier. My make-up my costumes and my
lines all have to change. And so it is from employee-me to husband-me to son-me
to father-me and so on.
The only me that is a constant is the devotee-me and so have His name on your
lips as often as you can remember to.

Lastly, remember that only by rubbing against metal does a knife get sharpened,
only by burning in fire does a coal become a diamond. If everyone was loving and
caring and not being a pain-in-the-neck, would you have a ghost of a chance at
self-development?? So be grateful not only to Ishwara but also to those very
people who are aggravating you that they are very much present in your life and
what's even better - they are not going to go away anytime soon, nor are they
going to change their ways!!. So with aggravation upon mounting aggravation do
you truly get to practice शमा, practice kshama, fathom the depths of your own
fortitude and forebearance, discover how (un)attached you truly are to your own
feelings, and emotions. Imagine yourself in a solitary forest - how would you
possibly evolve? And how would you mark your progress? And in return for this
huge favor these individuals are bestowing upon you, what are they going to get
in return ( if they are adharmic?). - nothing but future pain and suffering as
their karmaphala. Is it right then on your part to get angry with them?
SwamiDayanandaji gives a wonderful example by drawing a line on a board। Without an
eraser how can you make this line smaller? Draw a bigger line next to it!. If we
draw a big line of self-realization next to these so many small lines consisting
of the various roles that we are called to play then we gain a very valuable and
useful commodity for our sadhana - and that is Perspective.


Anonymous said...


Is it not strange I came to this blog to read about 'Spirituality ' but I am more attracted by what you have to say on non Spiritual things such as 'Relationships and Emotional pain'!But , honestly , can you really say somethingS are spiritual and others are not?

This is more so of 'Relationships'-Showing the 'other cheek' does not work always. We must always define our Bboundary and space ALWAYS . I CALL IT DRAWING A 'LINE' - Lakshman Rekha , so to speak - you cross the line then there is nothing but trouble !

so , in all relationships , first , learn to respect yourself and then automatically others will respect you ! Never be a doormat or a wall flower . would you not agree ?

In any relationship , honest communication is better and goes a long way. It is always important to recognize the good qualities in the other person and honor him/her for who they are . Showing kindness /compassion does not mean one should put up with 'emotional' abuse . You are really not helping the other person. This is called 'ennabling'. We do not want to be Ennabler , do we ?

So , in every Relationship, do you best and give the best until there is there more to do.

thedq said...

"So with aggravation upon mounting aggravation do you truly get to practice शमा, practice kshama, fathom the depths of your own fortitude and forebearance, discover how un)attached you truly are to your own
feelings, and emotions."

I love this sentence!

Shyam S said...

To "Anonymous",

Thank you for your comments.

The one comment I would make it is - everything, every situation, is *contextual*.

That is why "dharma" is so hard.

Yes we can certainly draw lines, but so can the other person - then what happens?

Things in life, perspectives, opinions, etc - these can seldom be cubbyholed into straightforward "black" and "white" - "right" and "wrong" categories, can they?

So if one's dharma makes a unpalatable situation a choiceless situation, then the only recourse is acceptance and prayer - this is where the most difficult human virtue of all "titiksha" ior forebearance is stressed tremedously by our Acharyas - and what helps us build forebearance is "perspective" which a spiritual pursuit, especially Vedanta, hopefully confers.


yuxing said...