Wherever we find ourselves in a situation where two or more people come together (whether it be an organisation, family, business, or recreational setting), be sure of one thing, at some point or another, politics or unfair criticism will surely arise!
By unfair criticism, I am referring to the harsh attitudes, opinions and agendas of certain people around us, and in particular, the effects their words and actions can have on our emotional being.
Virtually everyone has at least one difficult person to deal with in this life (think of your boss, mother in law, wife, husband, neighbour etc to find who that person is for you).
They may, indeed, regularly upset us despite all our attempts to get along with them.
The question then becomes how do we deal with such people and yet retain our inner happiness and well-being.
Once again, yogic wisdom has a beautiful explanation for dealing with such a personal and intricate matter, but, first, we need to understand the nature of our own minds before learning to deal with others.
Let’s say somebody who has read my blog approaches me and says “Oh wow Sanjib, you write so well! You are amazing, you are so wonderful!” How do you think I would feel?
Well, it’s obvious, I would be extremely happy and grateful!
Something inside my conscious would expand, and generally speaking, I would become rather content with myself.
Now let’s say ten minutes later I meet someone else and he says “Oh Sanjib, you write such rubbish! You’re terrible, give up and save us from your words!”
Now how do you think I would feel? Hurt, upset, annoyed, angry and extremely self-conscious?
Let’s delve a little further into these two situations to see what is really going on. In both cases, my writings were the same: I have been the same person, the environment has been the same, the timings have virtually been the same.
So why in one moment was I so happy, and in another so sad?
The simple answer would be to say it was another person’s words or actions that influenced my emotions and feelings, but if we really follow the teachings of yoga we need to go deeper.
It’s not other people’s words that affect our well being, it’s the way we internally react to them which creates our emotional state.
If we can truly understand the above point, we are more than 90% towards reaching enlightenment.
Let’s read the above line again; it’s not other people’s words which affect our well being, it’s the way we internally react to them which creates our emotional state.
In practical terms, this means if we receive insults or have bad behaviour hurled in our direction, they themselves cannot have any effect on us at all.
If our minds react in an unbalanced manner and cause us to become over emotional, only then can we lose our centredness, it is our mind which gives us the misery, not the other person’s actions.
Not everyone will understand the above paragraph, as it takes a tremendous amount of self-enquiry and courage to go deep into one’s psyche and unravel all the deficiencies and conditioning of our own minds.
Many people are happy to justify their sadness and remain in a victim consciousness by blaming others and not taking any responsibility for themselves.
Have you noticed how these people seem to always feel as if life is against them and never really seem to be grateful for anything? When Vivekananda says, “We deserve every blow we receive in life.”
He is not saying if someone attacks us we deserve to receive such an act, but rather, if we become upset after the attack, we only have ourselves to blame for feeling low.
Learning to accept the above is one of the biggest hurdles in the realms of true leadership, but once this awareness is achieved, we can move on to the next step of learning how to control our wayward mind so it behaves the way we want it to and not the other way round.
The quickest way to become aware of how our minds behave is to immerse ourselves in politics.
The next time you feel unfairly spoken about, unjustly hurt, re-read this article and try to pinpoint exactly how you are feeling and why you feel this way.
Do not analyse what the other person has said or done, keep the focus on yourself and how you are feeling.
Once you understand how you are feeling and how you got into this present state, you will realise there are certain psychological habits which have been formed within you which need to be broken.
No one can pinpoint these habits to you, they must be uncovered from within, that’s when real spiritual growth will occur.
Taking full responsibility for how you feel at all times has immeasurable benefits.
It will teach you dispassion, inner resolve, the workings of your own mind, awareness of people and situations whilst expanding your own mind by giving you differing viewpoints on the same situation.
The only downside is that it may cause you some emotional upheaval during the process, but then for a diamond to become smooth, all the rough edges need to be harshly cut.
Never shy away from difficult situations.
Even all the enlightened sages who have graced this earth have had to deal with an unbelievable amount of criticism during their time, yet by taking full responsibility for their own minds, nothing ever bothered them.
If this strategy of taking responsibility for our own minds worked for such illustrious masters, then surely it must be good enough for us mortal souls.
Have faith in what this wisdom teaches you and very soon you will be able to handle any person, in any situation, at any time.
A true leader remains steadfast, strong and centred no matter what is going on around them.
It’s only through unfair criticism that you get the opportunity to practice everything written in this post, and hence why I say, criticism can actually be very good for you.