That is one statement that sends shivers down my spine. You see it almost always is from people who don’t want it to be ok for, those who care know and don’t need to ask! Playing God is something we all would love to do. Given the slightest opportunity, we will want to don that hat of knowing what is best for the other. And if for some reason you are aware of vulnerabilities in another – be it your child, parent, sibling or friend – you will use all your powers to help during tough times and continue to ‘support’ after. But what most don’t realise is that after they have learnt swimming, the floatation support tube is a burden; after you know how to cycle those learning wheels curtail your freedom!
She was a good friend. She wanted to be around to help him settle in his marriage. She was a source of strength to him and tried to be there for his spouse too. She certainly played her part to be there for them. But any marriage can never be between three people. Soon she wanted control – ‘why did you share this?’; ‘you should have done this’; ‘why don’t you get her a gift?’; ‘I think you should hug her!’ – the list became endless to the point where her telephone conversation would begin with ‘Is everything ok?’ almost demanding a minute to minute update. She could sense the mood swings and began to believe it was her responsibility to support every change. Oh the intentions were never wrong – I want to be there for you. But in the process she had begun to define herself as the ‘mentor’ of the marriage, almost taking credit for the way he behaved. ‘He dances this way; he likes to eat this stuff; he prefers this coffee…’ – an endless list of assuming she ‘knows’ not realising it was becoming restrictive on how he may choose to behave today! A daily influence of control that egoistically claimed ‘I have worked so hard for this marriage to succeed’ – not realising that in that very statement the weakness was apparent – why would you take credit for someone else’s marriage?
The father wanted to protect his son. As any loving father would, he wanted to be there to see him settle. He would prod, he would push and he would help. But in the process of ‘helping’ he ended up making the son feel he was all the time judged. ‘Shall I do this for you?’; ‘Can I get this for you?’; ‘I arranged for this for you!’; ‘I can talk to your wife to settle the matter!’ – all asked with tender care sounded to the son as ‘I control your life’ – the intrusion was more painful than helpful. The support was crippling rather than nourishing.
The mother wanted to ensure her daughter didn’t get the same treatment she did. She wanted to give her the best. She strived to make her independent, to make her self reliant. But in the process she wanted in on all that was happening – she needed to know who her friends were, where she went, what she did, how she should react. She kept asking ‘is everything ok?’ repeating the same formula she had been dished out in her life. And the last thing any teenager wants is a constant presence hovering over the shoulder.
Very often we forget that the best solution to help anyone is to give them responsibility and authority and not spoon feed them with our own formula of a solution. What works for you need not work for another.
Human beings are prone to being influenced. Every stimuli triggers a response. Reprogramming our response to the stimuli with fresh renewed perceptions is what life is all about. We will keep encountering the same situations in life if we keep responding in the same way every time. The very purpose of the experience is to see if the stimuli can generate a fresh response. When we are vulnerable, when things go wrong, when we feel low – we reach out to others to help us, support us. A mature relationship is one where the other makes you self aware and come up with a solution on your own. Not when they dish out the solution for you or take over the remote control to push certain buttons and make you behave in certain ways. It most certainly is not healthy to ‘shadow’ live the thought processes of another on how they would live your life!
Very often in the guise of help, family and friends try to take over the remote to your behaviour. And once they have the control, they are never going to relinquish it for nothing is more powerful than knowing you can influence another. It is never so gross that you perceive it immediately. It is always camouflaged under the guise of support. But in that very question ‘is everything ok?’ – oh so innocently dished out – the memory of your need for them is triggered. Now every dip in your energy, every frown on your forehead, every grumpy complaint takes on epic proportions tying them to your vulnerabilities. It may have nothing to do with your past choices. But because they know it, it gives them control on how they anticipate you will behave – prompting them to push the right buttons to get their desired response! More importantly, when you choose to behave differently they engrave into your memory that it is their support which helps you behave the right way!
Anything you do on a daily basis has enormous influence on your life. You sit in silence for five minutes everyday – you will grow more peaceful irrespective of whether you know a process of meditation or not. You talk to someone everyday – you will start thinking like them, imbibing their negativity and positivity – their spectacles on life. You exercise everyday – even if it is not at optimum level it creates the necessary memory cells to trigger health. You avoid certain things everyday, you practice certain things everyday – it will have an influence on your life. Of all the life transforming teachings of Mahatria, this one teaching of ‘Dinacharya’ is so potent it can literally create you. If you don’t release your self from the clutches of those everyday influences, the so innocent daily poisonous interactions, the everyday question ‘is everything ok?’; the everyday judgement to see if you measure up, the everyday reporting on whether you live life based on another’s values – it will crush the ‘you’. Instead of iterating an external influence everyday, invest that time on your own introspection!
Society is built on the ability to influence. But till we gain the maturity of discriminative ability, it is better to stay away from those negative influences than expose ourselves daily to the control dish brewed by others. It is time to look them straight in the eye and say ‘I am returning your nose, dear. I found it in my business!’.
On the other hand, if for a blessed second we do realise that we are the ones that are capable of such influence, capable of providing to another’s wellbeing, capable of moulding another’s thought process – we certainly have the onus of responsibility to contribute. But with that comes the responsibility not to become the crutches on which they lean; worse we ourselves become depended on their behaviour for our very definition. As Swami Vivekananda would say ‘If you say let there be charity, you also say you want poverty so that you can be charitable’. In the process of trying to be ‘supportive’ you end up making the world vulnerable for your support.
Remember, Krishna gifted Arjuna the Bhagavad Gita to help him resolve to fight the battle of Kurukshetra. But Krishna did not continue to hold Arjuna a prisoner to his valued opinions on every matter. Imagine if at every step Arjuna had to consult with Krishna ‘shall I lift my bow?’ or at every step Krishna instructed Arjuna ‘Now turn right and shoot at 90 degrees!’. Contribute we must – but contribute to the making of the man by giving him back his sense of responsibility to make his own choices in life. Not by holding him under your ‘benevolent’ influence.
That womanising husband might have been a rapist if she weren’t his wife! That adulterous wife might have become a call girl but for her husband’s influence in her life. Your problematic neighbourhood child may have turned out to be a terrorist but for your presence in his life. Your crook of an employee might have become a murderer if you aren’t in his life. Your friend’s marriage might not have survived but for your intervention. Cancer is curable. Perhaps you are the chemo therapists in that patient’s life. We may succeed in our fight and overpower those cancerous cells or we might be left behind with a mere empty shell. But nowhere in the history has any good doctor become so engrossed in the cancer that he wishes his patients will remain under his benevolent care! Oh if we are the patients, let us try to fight our own cancer. But if we can be the chemo therapists, let us be that catalyst that kills those cancerous cells and then move away to give life the opportunity to grow. Don’t play God!
Written by Gita Krishna Raj | Published in infinithoughts in April 2016