Why do Babies get more Respect than Adults?

On False Joys and True Sorrows

Growing up, I observed a strange phenomenon. As a child, I was encouraged to explore my world, see what I could, understand everything and you know what…choose. Yes, I was given the power to choose until I was around 10 years old. Then, it all stopped. Not in every sphere but in many.

People started getting anxious if you changed your favorite color from red to blue. People panicked if you suddenly shifted your college major. People panicked if you expressed interests in hanging out more with friends than your parents. It was highly confusing and frightening to a child who had received complete acceptance from the day he was born, until a magic day where he was suddenly surrounded by fear – fear of other people who couldn’t tolerate him trying out new things any more, fear of other people who couldn’t tolerate him changing in the slightest bit.

This raised the question – what is fear? And indeed, what is change? Why are people so frightened now, when they were not frightened earlier? When a new baby was born in the family, I observed the same phenomenon – it was pampered and …listened to. The moment it crossed some magic invisible age when everyone felt they understood it, they stopped listening to the child and instead telling it how it should be based on the first few years of its life.

People listen only as long as they feel they have understood enough to control you. And then they stop listening and resist all change.

Imagine a romantic encounter – a man and woman go on a date. The man or woman may have gone through a hundred different experiences, left their homes, faced innumerous challenges and ‘fashioned’ or built their lives based on what makes them happy. Everything goes well until they meet a potential romantic partner who in the initial days of courtship listens, really listens and provides them support and validation. We feel a rush of hormones and healing as we are flooded with acceptance.

However, this is short-lived. The moment your partner has understood you, they start resisting any further evolution of your personality, any efforts at your self-development. “You have changed” or “something is wrong with you”, or “this is not who you are”, they say. My point is yes, exactly, that is no longer who they are- people evolve every day. But the biggest problem occurs when your partner starts holding you to the personality you had at the initial point of your courtship and he/ she tells you that’s who you are and should always be. That can never be the case – no one except yourself can or should tell you who you are. No one except yourself has the right to change you or not change you. You have the right to completely throw out your past personality and become a new person every single day.

Our partners, parents, families and ‘well-meaning’ friends don’t just resist change in you. By questioning who you are, and who you have become, by insisting that you are no longer who they are comfortable with, they try very hard to take away a very fundamental right – the right to choose your life and life path, the right to choose who you are, what your personality should be like, who your friends should be, what you need to learn and unlearn. These rights are taken away from you and transferred to the ‘other’ person in your relationship (again family, friend or partner).

At this point, you forget what was subconsciously a natural part of you since you were a baby- your right to choose who you are, what you stand for, what you want to become, who you want to form relationships with and who you do not wish to be related to any more. You forget that you have the right to form and break relationships – you are not bound to your relationships, relationships are entities that are chosen by you.

When you forget that relationships are a choice, you make the mistake of prioritizing relationships over yourself as an individual. A relationship can be kept stable only in two ways – if no individual in the relationship changes, ever; or if both individuals in the relationship change in the same or mutually acceptable ways. The moment two people (naturally) begin to evolve in different directions, levels of acceptance need to increase drastically in the relationship to sustain it. Relationships are meant to be an evolving structure – the moment you try to make a relationship ‘stable’, it becomes a prison for both the controller and the controlled within it.

We can now see why we idolize our childhoods and initial days of dating or courtship. Listening and understanding who your partner is at every moment is blissful romance, resisting change and control becomes marriage (not for all, but for many). Listening and understanding who your child is at every moment creates a golden childhood, resisting change and control becomes stagnant adulthood and a mid-life crisis (for many).

Friendships do not make any such demands on the people involved. Friendships are built on acceptance of change, on understanding and listening and giving helpful advice only when asked (not involving unilateral demands). It is often surprising that people don’t recognize that in the initial days of courtship or babyhood, we are friends with our partners or parents. As we grow, our partners and family cease being our friends and become controlling, manipulative or otherwise resist any form of evolution. Guilt, fear, anxiety, worry, and constant rejection soon become parts of the family environment, with every person constantly adjusting their behavior to satisfy someone else around them.

When everyone is constantly adjusting their behavior, no one is real/ authentic/ original anymore. Truth flies out of the window. The entire family or marriage becomes one built on false projections of our character. At this point, a sad chain of events is set into motion – people begin to prefer their relationships to be like mirrors, reflecting what they want to see, rather than actually seeing the other person in the relationship.

Thus, the family unit becomes a crucible for a false self – a cemetery where your true nature and ability to evolve are buried. It becomes a graveyard of hopes and dreams – and yet families celebrate this by praising other members for ‘sacrificing’ their lives for others. Sacrifice is unnecessary when you accept others for who they are. It is only when people hide from the truth that sacrifice of your dreams, hopes and personality come into play.

Thus, instead of sacrificing their outer relationships for true inner authenticity, people sacrifice inner truth and begin celebrating outer falsehoods and artificiality in relationships. Thus, even sacrifice which people begin to worship as a wonderful human quality becomes a false characteristic. False relationships lead to false sacrifices and worship of false values in each other. Listening becomes replaced by ‘walking on eggshells’ or ‘concern for others’ so as to not disturb those around you.

While it is good to respect boundaries, most relationships break down these boundaries so that you forget where you end, and where your partner/ family begins. Emotions become a confusing mess (which is again celebrated as a sign of closeness). Two people can be close only if they are first themselves as individuals, and then choose to be close. Relationships are not about merging with each other, but about sharing who you are. You cannot share who you are, unless you are fully and authentically yourself. A false closeness generated due to confusion and power struggles (however subtle – manipulated by fear, anger or guilt-tripping) can never be aligned with your true nature.

When you thus forget who you are, and choose falseness in relationships over inner truth, you stop listening to your soul. And when you stop listening to your soul, it stops speaking to you. Thus, you lose your connection to your deepest self and live an unenlightened life, filled with false joys and false sorrows. The only thing that such false joys and false sorrows can lead to is unmitigated suffering – it starts slowly by nagging you with a quiet inner voice, insisting that something is wrong in the way you are living your life.

But sadly, many ignore this voice for years and this malaise moves into stage two – you begin to feel lost, somewhere around middle-age. Society encourages you to ignore this or asks you to take medication – alcohol or drugs to kill this voice, and your soul stops trying to guide you altogether. You move into the last stage- inner death. Life becomes a monotonous journey, devoid of meaning and soul and purpose. You neither have the energy to live, nor die and you walk wearily up to death, where your family gathers around you and weeps upon losing you. But the sad thing is, they didn’t lose you now, they had lost you a long time ago. They only lost your body now, but your soul which is the True You had died a long, long while ago.

It is unfortunate that our friends and families don’t realize that the soul is more important than the body. Their attachment to our outer manifestations makes them lose their connection with the inner self. And thus, they weep for the wrong reasons, at the wrong place, at the wrong time in your life. And many of us die, thinking that their tears are genuine, for we ourselves have forgotten what we should be really sad about.

Listen to your soul, choose your inner truth, live a life of true joys and true sorrows. It is only then you will know when to really be happy and when to really feel sad. You won’t need others to tell you when you should be sad or happy (based on their false perceptions). The real truth will never ever be the same as the false truths that are forced upon you.

Therefore, if you wish to live a life of truth, find your own truth, let others find their own truth, do not ask others to justify their truth to you, and do not justify your truth to others. In that way, when you die, you won’t weep, for it will only be your body dying, while your soul will be very much alive and ready for the next part of its journey.

Explaining Change to those who Misunderstand You

7 steps to shift from outer to inner stability

I change a lot. I change everyday. I find every day, every moment as an opportunity to grow. This frightens people especially my family. So, how do you explain change to those who are unable to understand?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

1. Change is just me making a few additions and deletions:

Every day, I add something new to my life, remove what doesn’t work and retain what I am not sure about. I do this so I can make my today happier than yesterday. I am a work in progress and happiness is a journey. I am a dish that is being cooked all the time, and yet its flavors keep changing as I add new ingredients.

My flavor is what you see. The dish is what I am. Deep down I am the same (a dish), yet on the surface I have changed.

2. Change is me choosing the life I want, based on who I am today

People find it difficult to perceive inner power and choice. Your family and friends find it easier to change when they can find excuses based in the outer world—

  • “ I had to move, the house was leaking” sounds better than “I wanted a new location that resonated with my new self”
  • “I have to travel tomorrow, the boss has asked me to” sounds better than “I asked for a travel assignment so I could see a bit of the world”
  • “My wife will kill me if I don’t leave now” sounds better than “I just want to be alone for a bit and am fed up of sitting in this bar”

Change based on inner choice is oddly considered abnormal. Change based on helplessness is even more oddly considered normal. We live in a world of cross-purposes.

3. Change is me getting bored of what I am and what I do

Yes, you can get bored of who you are. You can take up new hobbies. You can give up all your hobbies as well. But, you might face resistance if you give something up. You give up a friend that no one likes and people applaud. You cease contact with a family member who no longer resonates with you and people question your every rationale.

People are resistant to what they don’t agree with. Not all change, only change that goes against their values. People may applaud you for giving up alcohol, but will question your every move if you quit your job and start your own venture.

4. Change is about you discovering what you value…every moment

We are surrounded by people who have no idea what their values are. They absorb others’ convictions and beliefs in the hope they will be accepted. When you express the fact that you are aware of what your values are (today), people get frightened. Individuality is frightening to those who lack it.

Further, telling those very same people that your values have changed because you have discovered new ways of being happy, induces more fear.

Your values are not intended to be fixed. The values you have as a 16 year old are not the same values you will have at the age of 25 or 32 or 47. Your happiness comes first- you use your values to explain your happiness. Tomorrow’s happiness should never become a prisoner of yesterday’s values.

5. Change is a journey, not a destination

You might find yourself surrounded by people saying happiness is a destination and you should stop growing once you are happy. But this seldom works- you will discover new things to be excited about, you will get bored with old things. You will find new priorities and discard old ones. Change is not a means to an end, it is a means to a means.

Change is never about reaching a destination, it is about knowing that you still have a million more choices and destinations to choose from, even if you have already tried a million things.

6. Change is achieving personal power

When you decide who you want to be, you gain inner personal power. You achieve the power to say yes…and no. You realize that you cannot control what others say, feel, think or do. The only person you can control is yourself. When you realize this, you shift your energy from outer influences (and blame games) to inner power (and choice to change).

Change is a two-layered thing. It is not just the power to change, it the power to choose that change.

7. Change is about realizing your purest primal identity

When you stop blaming external circumstances, your power shifts:

  • You cease to change because of others and external circumstances
  • You choose to change because you have to, compelled form within
  • Then you choose to change because it makes you fulfilled
  • Then you choose to change because it is a way of life, to avoid the suffering that results from attachment to a false stability

When everything is changeable around you, your friends, family, community, your body, your thoughts, your emotions, your priorities and your values, you come to realize the deepest part of yourself — the unchanging self.

Your deepest self (or soul) is just an observer, couched in silence. Everything else about you is not your true self, and will constantly change. You can choose whether to consciously accept this fact and experience joy, or be dragged through life kicking and screaming in misery as you are taught these very lessons.

Change begins with wondering what others may think, then moves to convincing others of your helplessness, and eventually evolves to finding your inner power and true self. By choosing to be a new person every moment, you begin living in the present, accept external chaos but achieve inner stability and peace.