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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When you are hurting, take a 30,000ft view of your Life

Sometimes people mess around with you for no reason. Sometimes they do it intentionally. Whatever be their motives, the fact that you have been messed around with cannot be reversed. In either case, just shrug off the situation and move on. Even if you can’t forget what has happened, move on – and, if possible, forgive the people involved!

The other day, our client, an organization that we were conducting a workshop for, had provided us a car with a driver. It was a badly maintained car and the driver seemed particularly disinterested in his job. During the course of our ride, when we stopped at an eatery, we invited the driver to lunch with us. He politely declined saying he had “finished” his lunch. After our lunch, when we got into the car, we found it smelling of food. Apparently, he had had his lunch in the car; worse, to my dismay, he had used a document bag I had carried along as a prop for him to open his lunch box and set out the dishes. A lot of food had spilled on my bag and had stained it all over. When I confronted him, the driver mumbled a meek, remorseless, apology and volunteered half-heartedly to clean my bag for me.

Initially I was furious. The driver’s bad etiquette pissed me off no doubt. I was even more put off by his lack of empathy. He had messed up my bag – the least he could do was to genuinely feel sorry. But no, the driver was in no mood for this. For some time I was grumpy with him and the situation. He had no right or reason to do this to any guest/passenger, I thought. My wife, seeing my sense of exasperation, stepped in and urged me to move on. I had barely begun to reason with the driver, but I saw my wife’s point and soon dismissed the idea as a complete waste of time.

The next morning as I attempted to clean up my bag, I could not escape the learnings and perspectives the entire episode offered.

The driver and the food-spill are but metaphors for people and situations we find ourselves in. On many an occasion we are pissed on and passed over. It hurts more when there’s no provocation from our side. When you are focused on your work and someone comes to disrupt it or rides roughshod over you, you feel vulnerable. Not because you don’t know that you can retaliate but you feel so numb – why would anybody want to expect anyone to be insensitive and unkind to them? – that you don’t know what to do or how to respond. The best response, so that you protect your inner peace, is to forgive, even if you can’t forget, and simply move on. This applies as much in small, mundane, everyday skirmishes with rank strangers as it does with pre-meditated attempts to cause you anguish by people close to you. When you don’t move on, and instead demand justice or seek understanding from insensitive folks, you are only allowing yourself to be hurt more; to be trampled upon more. Because insensitive people are not bothered about how you are feeling. They may not have set out to hurt you but if you are hurt, it hardly bothers them. So, why waste your time with them and on them?

Also, people, events, situations are just the way they are meant to be in your Life. When I reflected, I concluded that the food-spill in the car was just meant to be. In the larger scheme of my Life, I reckoned, the food-spill and the irritation it caused should hardly matter. Because I am dealing with a far messier situation – I am in the throes of a bankruptcy, working harder each day to put our business and our Firm back on track. Besides, the driver’s insensitivity pales in significance in front of my mother’s – she called me a cheat because of my inability to return money I had borrowed from her. Similarly, when you reflect on your Life, you will find that the misery you feel over people’s actions and attitudes are hardly relevant in the context of your Life’s larger design. When something is hurting you and you are obsessed with that hurt, zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Take a 30,000ft view of your Life. You will realize soon that you can reason with someone when reason works. But you cannot reason with someone who doesn’t see reason. So, be smart. Protect your inner peace. In such situations, with such people, simply forgive and move on!

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