I nearly titled this post ‘Change’ but how could I? Everything you need to know about change, has already been written beautifully by Swami here.
Today I’d like to write a few words about our attempts to change others. And this post includes my own experience in realising that trying to change others is futile.
I think that we’ve all fallen into the trap of thinking that it would benefit others if they changed, that we are more spiritual and we know better. We are also very quick to conclude that we are right and others are wrong. Often we assume that they simply don’t understand, without realising that perhaps, the problem may lie within us. Yup, you heard that right. I don’t mean to say that we are wrong, of course not. However, when we try to change others, we are already seeking outside, instead of looking at ourselves.
On the journey of self-transformation, it is of utmost importance to realise that our inner peace is the only measure of our progress. Unfortunately, we measure our peace and happiness based on environment and surroundings, and in doing so, we try to change others. One way to be at peace without trying to change others is to be okay with how the other person wishes to be. What do I mean? Looks like it is time for an example.
So here goes:
You came across Om Swami, somehow, ‘randomly’. And you are mind-blown by Him and think the whole world should know about Him.
His ways, His wisdom, His divinity, Him, you are mind-blown. You know He is the real deal. So, what’s next? The most natural thing for all of us to do is to tell everyone about Him of course!!! Your entire family must know about Him and how amazing He is.
So there you go, all excited, and explain yourself and try to make them understand your new found (and lasting) happiness. However, to your utter disappointment, they just don’t get it.
You see, from then on you have two choices:
- Convince them everyday that they should follow Om Swami
- Be the change you want to see.
The first choice is a very common scenario. Many of us will try our best to convince everyone around us that they should follow Swami (between you and I: of course they should), but unfortunately, not everyone may be ready. As we keep exposing them to our excitement and keep trying to convince them, the chances of them ignoring us or getting irritated with us increases. It isn’t the right approach in my opinion.
So, that leaves us with the second choice, which I personally used and still use. However cliche this saying is, the truth in the following quote is real.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
The best way to expose the world to Swami is by applying His teachings in our own lives. Not in the lives of others, although we can make a positive difference in their lives by being kinder, more compassionate and more loving.
Here are some examples of what we can do and some of the things I did:
1. Give the other person a right to have their own opinions and make their own choices.
Just like we made our choice, the other person also has the right to an opinion. Although you and I know they are wrong. Just kidding. Just kidding!
2. Allow the person to find their own truth.
The other person may not be spiritual at all or may wish to be an atheist. Let them be. If they are happy, who cares?:) If we can’t handle their strong views, at least we can be quiet and move away politely.
3. When the other person is being angry at you, be compassionate.
If we are mindful enough to know that the other person may be under stress or having a tough day, we can remain calm. That’s the Om Swami way, in my opinion.
4. Be calm when faced with criticism.
It is very possible that in following Swami or in doing anything different in our lives, we’ll face criticism by our close ones. However, if we are established in our truth and comfortable with ourselves, we will remain calm instead of defending ourselves. And in doing so, we are living Om Swami’s teachings. I have done it. E.g. if you change your diet from non-veg to veg, you may face immense criticism, but stay put and respect the other person, with patience, they will give up and may change themselves, with Divine grace.
5. Live your truth silently.
Very often, we feel the need to shout on roof tops that we are meditating, worshiping or practising compassion or following so and so. But to be honest, perhaps these things could be done better in silence. And then something magical happens: Our change and success make all the noise.
When the other person feels that we have changed, they will naturally wonder what happened. As we become the change, we become fire and others also seek to melt like us. In seeing a happier, calmer, kinder and more loving person in us, they may not express it out loud, but silently, they will start changing. Such a change cannot be brought about by ‘convincing’ others. Why? Because when we try to convince others or impose our views, however awesome, on them, their ego gets in the way.
Think about this – do you like to be told what to do? I definitely don’t! If someone asks me to change for them, instead of changing, I will rebel. (Imagine an angry puppy. It’s a cute visual.)
The bottom line is that we can never change others, we can only trigger the fire within them through our own change coming from the soul. Any attempt to reason with them may not work. But above all, as we all know, Divine grace has a huge role to play in change, of course. And I am sure I am not saying anything new here, as many of you wonderful people must have experienced change in others too.
Because ultimately, Om Swami is a way of living, a thought and bliss (Coincidentally this is also today’s YouTube video upload, I just saw it.)
And if all of the above fails, as Swami said in a post:
If you can’t change the person, change the person!
I had no intention of having only one example and that too about convincing others to follow Swami, but it seems that’s His will for today. Or my lack of planning! Go figure (smiles).
So, have you got any spare change, please? No, not money. I mean do you have anything left to change within you? I do! (Big smile)