Have you been so embarrassed by a fellow traveler that you felt very bad about yourself?
“Most of the things that happen to you in life, you have no control over,” says Robert Green. “You do not control your parents, cannot control whom you are born to, where you are born, when you are born, which year, which schools you go to or anything like that and beyond that things happen to you. In fact, 95-96 % of life is beyond our control. So, what can you control? Only yourself. That is Self-Mastery.”
I was on a flight from Bangalore to Hyderabad this week. Seated just behind 26D was Mr. Ra Gu (Original Name withheld). I overheard him complaining loudly to the flight attendant once during the flight and next while we were disembarking. He felt the flight announcements were frequent and hence disturbing and the volume levels were higher. His passing comment was that the sound and fury reminded him of a local bus. I and everyone around me were disturbed by his outbursts. His last comment embarrassed all of us and not just the flight attendant. That was the last straw on the camel’s back.
I was right behind him when we were getting down and I was telling myself “somebody needs to give their 2 cents to this guy.” As they say, “when you inspire, the universe conspires.” I got the seat next to him in the bus. Again my 2 cents voice came up. My negative voice said, “It is not you Vinod.” My positive voice said, “If not you, who? If not here, where? If not now when?”
I opened the conversation, “you had some difficulties in the flight…” That was it. The flood gates opened. He went on to tell me everything bad that was happening in his life, from traffic, airlines’ sound & fury, his job, disruptive technology shifts, frequent travel etc. I noticed that he was an emotional cocktail of negative responses to circumstances. It was my time to give him a factual assessment. I told him, “Look Airline staff will do their job. It is a highly compliant industry. It is their duty to make us aware of weather conditions and other paraphernalia. I do agree with you that volume levels should have been lower. That was because the speakers were right above our seats. The Airline staff do not have any control on these things.” Suddenly I saw a shift in his demeanour. His tone softened and later we gracefully exited.
This brought images of my own life when I used to crib for things. I also carried a lot of these negative lenses with me in the form of prejudices, biases and dogmas.
The only way I have neutralized these thoughts was by being in the company of some great people who have come into my life. I have changed for the better. The company you keep is very important. As they say, neurons that wire together fire together.
We all have a little bit of Ra Gu in our lives. It is not bad at all. We cannot be Optimistically Positive all the times. The right balance and belief (Duality) is important.
In my experience one can get out of a negative spiral by being aware that there are circumstances which are beyond our control and hence we need to control ourselves. The speaker, the airline ritual and practices were beyond control. Another way Ra Gu could have reacted was to call the attendant and mention politely that volume levels were higher than required and he could have engaged in a conversation on the frequent announcements.
My belief is that, in life you will hear Ra Gu like voices. One way to counter is by asking this question, “If I control myself, can I increase the tiny margin of 4 – 5% of the things I can control?”
We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are you spending your time with people who can create a world around you which sees your self-worth and puts you in high self-esteem?