A single incidence, a solitary interaction can at times make us question our core beliefs and the very concepts which influence our thinking. They make us wonder if we are in touch with reality or have we been living in a make believe world of our own? I recently encountered such an interaction. Perhaps years ago I would have been shocked, angry or even humiliated, but at this stage of my life I only consider it as a lesson to be learnt. Life’s lesson’s are not neatly compartmentalized by subjects and chapters, they need to be reflected upon and conclusions can only be arrived at by examining multiple aspects of our lives.
We learnt from Covey years ago that between every stimulus and response is a gap. The more we exercise that gap, the more freedom we exercise. It is a concept that I hold dearly and one which I teach my participants with great zeal. In choosing to learn my lessons and coming to my own conclusion about my actions, I exercise my freedom. It is easy to form opinions about others but usually unproductive, what is more difficult and far more productive is to re-examine one’s own paradigms.
On the surface choosing our response would mean that life’s decisions should be based on logic alone. But my heart provides the main motivation of all my actions. Does that mean that I’m a naïve fool that runs after anything and everything I fancy? Or that there is incongruence between my preaching and my actions? Not at all. To think from the heart does not mean that one is irrational or romantic or even impulsive, it simply means that one lets their inner wisdom guide them. The sub-conscious mind is always one step ahead of the conscious mind, and if we take each new bend, each new experience as a signal for exploration, life becomes glorious and joyful. Sure we all trip and fall along the way but at least we progress on the journey of life long learning. Sad are those people who spend their life looking for an authentic map which they can rely upon – but there is no such map, one has to be willing to get lost in order to explore. And so such people become very good in knowing every marker, every bend, every inch of the road on which they choose to travel, but leave the forest around them unexplored. My advice – step away from the road, new lessons lie there.
We project on to others what we want to see. It is an innate desire in all of us to make people ‘fit’ into our world view. People are good or bad, they are decent or immoral, they are deceitful or honest etc. Every label has been created by us so that we can comfortably categorize our interactions, every label has been created by us based on our past experiences or our conditioning. The problem is that human nature does not correspond to a specific side of the spectrum – we are a composition in shades. It is this labeling on our part which causes us to limit ourselves to know only those who we file on the right side of our cabinet, the ones filed on the left-hand side are unread and unknown. Anyone who validates our paradigms is welcome, anyone who challenges it is discarded.
An important lesson I learnt from this interaction was that it is easier for people to be cynical and disbelieving rather than accept what people tell them. There is nothing wrong with that at all, only a fool or the terribly gullible believe everything. Discernment is an important aspect of a healthy human mind. The problem lies when we become adamant in refusing to accept the other person’s truth. Hence it is not a problem to not take anything on face value, the problem is not to let any information change that view.
The conclusions which I have drawn from this perhaps negative interaction are all positive and they are:
I choose to let my heart rule my life, because in the balance of things it gives me more joy than pain. And besides even pain is an indication of being alive, I refuse to merely exist.
The labels which other people may define me by are not indicative of who I am. However, I refuse to put negative labels on those people, because I know it is hard and painful for people to change their paradigms constantly.
Our truth does not change, but whether the other person accepts it or not is their choice. Their belief cannot define my reality. I am who I am, and darn happy about it!
Oh and yes one more thing exuberance is considered a sign of mental instability by the rational minded but my reply to them - “blessed are the cracks for they let in the light”.