WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT DOESN’T

Just like any other individual, I have had my own highs and lows in life. If I analyze my phases, I can feel that most of what I have experienced can be attributed to my emotional dependency on people and the environment. Thus these internal fluctuations with regard to the good and the bad times always cause big turbulence, leading to mental havoc and wasteful thinking. From a very recent incident, I was able to recall the advice of my spiritual guide over a telephonic conversation with him, that I had forgotten amid the helter-skelter of my B-school life.

I just complained to him about people’s sympathetic and weird reactions to my auto-immune disorder which flared up on my skin at different parts in hundreds of minuscule patches uninvitedly a couple of months back. When I was finished with my rants, he asked me if it is affecting me physically or causing any harm, pain or injury. Since it just has to do with the outer skin, it actually makes no impact on my lifestyle, except the fact that I become a little conscious in my choice of clothing. On hearing this, he laughed off my problem and told me, that the problem is not with the disorder but with the way I am getting affected by people’s reactions to it. And, so he reminded me of the old advice he had given me way back in a different context that still holds true which goes like:-
“I shouldn’t be affected by what others think or say about me but what matters is what I think and say about them. ”

It might sound unconditional but it certainly changes the perception and our reactions towards people with whose opinions, we fluctuate. Stating my own experience, I no longer feel frustrated with people’s reactions but I have turned empathetic to understand their level of unawareness about the disorder. Sometimes, I feel the need to explain to them about my condition and how it will vanish soon, while most of the time, I take a silent and composed stand now, for I am actually not responsible to justify. My teacher very easily tells me to simply name the problem and leave it for people to google rather than explaining them the nuances of it. And, so at times, I listen to their fuss about it, their opinions and advice about it but don’t take it by heart. My anger for them has turned into pity and sympathy especially for those persons who judge others by external appearance. Now, I give them a smile and empathize with them for believing and falling for temporal things.  Being mindful, I make sure that I create no negative thoughts but emit positive vibrations only for such people as ultimately it will affect my inner energies and I can heal soon both internally and externally. It is only through my teacher’s advice that I have been able to develop strong immunity against others’ comments and have been able to develop a positive outlook towards life. I need not mention but it actually makes me stronger and carefree.

IF ONLY WE COULD HOLD A CONVERSATION…

Image result for shopkeeper and customer anime

How often do we actually take out time to exchange just a few words with the people who don’t hold much importance in our life? Rarely or maybe sometimes. Recalling one of such acquaintances, I cannot forget my childhood memory associated with the purchase of junkies from a nearby colony provision store. No sooner was I able to collect a few coins than I used to rush to the shop to purchase either a pack of chips or my favorite cola! However, the owner of the shop had such disposition that all my excitement always cooled down on seeing his grumpy face. Since it was the only shop in my area, it seemed more of the kind of a monopoly store. His irritation level would rise to heights if I would ask him to display his collection of candies or if even I just had to add one extra item in the billing list. A smile was the last thing one could expect from this shopkeeper. Whenever I returned home after my purchase, I always complained to my mom about the rude and ignorant behavior of this man. But then again, I had no option than to go again to this merchant for purchases as it was the only store that existed in my colony at that time. Moreover, if anything went wrong or if I ever had to return an expired item, he took it back with so much of sternness as if he was doing a favor on me. His nags and my complaints went on endlessly until a piece of shocking news broke out one day.

I had risen from my morning sleep when I saw my parents leaving home early that day. When I asked my maid about it, she told me that they were going to attend the funeral of Mr. Jaiswal. It was as if the ground below my feet had shaken for how could a man who seemed so fit could pass away. I couldn’t help remembering how often I used to engage in a fight with this man at his shop even for his fuzzy attitude. All of a sudden, I just felt as if I had so many unsettled accounts with this person, left to finish. When my mom returned, she told me that this shop owner was suffering from mouth cancer and he committed suicide.

For a moment, I couldn’t believe if it was really true and when this reality seeped in me, I could somehow relate to the reactions of this shopkeeper in the past. Mr. Jaiswal was not bad, it was his circumstances that had turned him sour and bitter. Now it clicked to me that why he didn’t respond to my anger as uttering a word from the rotten mouth was so difficult for him. Moreover, the pain of those blisters in his mouth was the reason for the constant frown on his face. I really felt sorry for a dead soul that day and more than that I was agitated by my own self that how I could hold so many grudges against a diseased person for petty issues. It really struck me that why I didn’t even try for once to gauge the depth of his situation. I really wondered if I had just even tried getting into his shoes, I would have never held any complaints against him. I cursed myself endlessly for not making any efforts to discover the reason for his sternness. Why for God’s sake, I didn’t even hold a conversation with him? Sympathy filled my heart when I came to know from the neighbours in my colony that how lonely he felt as he had no one to look after him. It was not only the disease but solitude as well that was killing him. He certainly might have felt very low which led him to commit suicide and there might be no one around to even console him. Connecting the dots seemed very easy at that moment for one could then sense that his frustration was definitely the outcome of his sufferings. I couldn’t help questioning myself that how I could frame so strong and wrong perceptions about this person just because his behaviour was bad with me.

Mother Teresa has rightly said:- “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’’ These words were somewhere resonating in my ears for I had turned so nasty in judging the shopkeeper that I had no time to empathize with his problems that were probably greatest than all of our rants. I felt very sorry for him and at the same time, I really felt that I just could not forgive myself for passing angry comments on him. I learned a lesson that day to not judge a person without knowing his struggle story. Moreover, it does not take much time to know the sorrows of a person only if we understand the real meaning of tolerance and patience. Even if it takes time, isn’t it worth it, if it can save someone’s life and make him feel worthy enough to live on this planet; making someone feel a little less lonely?

This incident really questioned my indifferent conscience that day and struck such chords in me striving me to live a life of awareness and kindness with empathy and compassion filled in the heart.

BE AN EMPATHIZER, NOT AN ADVISER

Advises!

Suggestions!

Taunts!

They irked me so much during my sickness last month. I even warned few of my family members, shouted at them and reprimanded few of my friends lovingly.

People usually showed their sympathy and started giving examples according to their thinking and understanding of the matter or issue. There were very few who could really understand what I was going through at that particular moment of my suffering. ‘Empathy’, what I was needed, not sympathy from the people around me.

In sympathy, emotions are predominant. The sympathizer relates emotionally with the person concerned. But in empathy the intellect and discerning are predominant. The empathizer focuses on understanding the person’s frame of mind, his/her context, how he/she feels and why. Then it becomes easier for him/her to talk, counsel, console and comfort the victim in a better and successful way.

A classic differentiation between sympathy and empathy was displayed by Liza  in her poem: Sympathy and Empathy a Poem have a look at it.

A week ago I elucidated few encouraging messages that I received while I was in the hospital. And I was elated and strengthened by each of one of those messages because each of those messages reflected the sender’s empathetic heart.

An empathizer always puts his/her feet into the victim’s shoe and try to understand how it feels to be in that shoe.

Just imagine about the person who has lost his/her spouse or children. Consoling that person or a bereaved is all the more difficult as the grief level of a bereaved is the highest in comparison to any other sadness or grief. How can we be empathetic in that case if we do not have any such experiences in our own life?

Let me give an example I just remembered. When my cousin died of an accident and I was weeping for him before flying for his funeral my aunt here in Kolkata was trying to comfort me as she was also in pain. She was saying, “I can imagine how it will feel if my son would have died today. The pain of that mother is so great who had lost her son.” That’s a cry of an empathetic heart. And I have seen her comforting me, my wife and few others at different times. She is the best in doing so.

We had a week for a topic called, “Managing Grief” last year in 2016. I wrote an article where I had mentioned about few things that we should remember while consoling or comforting a bereaved. They were: Listening to them patiently, Giving them a hug, Allow them to weep or wail, Cry with them, Talk less with them, Don’t force them for anything and so on.

I quite liked this statement that I stumbled upon in WordPress:

What is the true essence of therapy? What is a key aspect in loving? What is understanding? The answer to these questions is an ability within self that requires learning and growing, this ability is empathy

Recently, I came across the term, “Validation through Empathy“. Psychology Today says, “Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings,  sensations, and behaviors as understandable.  We may approve it or not that’s a different matter but we accept and understand the person and his/her feelings.

I have a video which can really make sense and help us all to understand the concept of Validation through Empathy. Let’s watch it.

Whoa! Excellent! Isn’t it?

I have been trying desperately to be a person like that… A person who will not judge other’s frailty but understand and accept his/her actions, emotions and mind. I sensed people feel comfortable with me, sharing their hearts because to some extent I could provide the warmth of that empathy which they desperately need when they are vulnerable. And I will strive more and more to be validating their emotions through empathy.

Dear Friends! Our level of empathy actually determines how good we can be in consoling or comforting those who are going through difficult situations.

Keep reading, keep learning and keep leaving your feedback.

Stay Blessed!