The day before yesterday, I was talking to one of my friends over the phone. She had been sad the whole day. Her mother-in-law had been gossiping about her with her daughter, and she happened to hear her mother-in-law saying something negative about her. She was crestfallen. She cried.
Now, the thing is, whenever someone verbally abuses us or does something against us, what happens to our state of mind? We lose our peace of mind and keep churning the thought over and over again in our heads. Don’t we do so? And we have a basic tendency to immediately react in these situations. As a result, we succumb to feelings of anger, rage and animosity.
I am happy that she didn’t react, but she was mentally grieving. She is a soft-hearted girl by nature. She breaks down if anybody hurts her even with words. I am sure there are lots of people like this. Maybe you too who’s reading this post right now. And this is not a fault! We are what we are! But, what to do in such situations? Remain quiet? Which is not at all easy for a lot of us. Blurt out against such abuses? That’ll not solve anything. But, we do the latter in most cases anyway.
This urge to ‘hit back’ is so strong in us that we immediately lose control and start to act in a violent way, no? It is indeed very hard to just quietly bypass the whole issue. But, reaction is not the answer; can never be.
Can’t we learn to respond consciously? To respond is different. The way we respond to situations is going to determine how it’ll affect us. We always have the choice to respond wisely. But, in a reactive mood, we lose this choice; which means, we lose our freedom. See, why do we react? A surge of emotion—anger, rage, jealousy or a feeling of animosity—suddenly overcomes us, and we are swept away in that wave. So, we are bound by our negative emotions and feelings; not to mention that we are as much bound by the positive ones. But, see what happens because of this: we lose our freedom to act freely; whereas in response, we ‘choose’ our reaction, we regulate our feelings and behave sanely. This shift is very important to deal with others; because in this world we have to live and act among all kinds of people. We can’t be losing our peace of mind at every turn of events. We will be miserable if we live like this—reactively.
Remaining quiet is actually a sign of inner strength. But, having said that, I completely concur with the fact that it may not always be possible or advisable even to remain silent. There will be situations when we must speak up and stand up against any injustice that may happen to us and others. We must protest when it’s needed. But, there’s an art of doing this.
And being reactive is not the way. First of all, we should know which situation deserves our attention and which doesn’t. Isn’t it foolish to react to every situation? Some people react to everything that happens to them. They are utter fools!
Secondly, we must be able to decide—what’s more important to us: our peace of mind or engaging in a trifle of words which won’t even mean anything the next day? Why waste our time and energy fighting with others!
But the most important skill is not to carry any negative thoughts in our heads. My friend didn’t react, but she was holding the negative words of her mother-in-law in her heart like hot embers. She couldn’t let go of them. This ability to let go of unwanted thoughts and feelings is at the very heart of mind management. This requires a certain dispassion to worldly affairs and a certain maturity as to know how to handle our inner world. If this much is there, we can handle any situation.