Have you ever been in the presence of someone dying, and while they may have been suffering from some terminal illness, they had a larger-than-life attitude? One example being the protagonist in the Hindi film, Anand, which I wrote about earlier. It communicated love and compassion till the very end. Instances like these are a stark reminder that it’s not the situations in our life that matter, but how we respond to them. It’s not a matter of chance that this person exuded a magnificent attitude (on the outside), which helped them remain unbelievably stable (inside) in a situation that is unimaginable for most of us to even think about, much less feel. Either they miraculously found a way to be stable after hearing about their illness OR they took care of their emotional independence over a lifetime, without which, I suspect it would be near-impossible to come to terms with this insurmountable situation.
Granted, this is an extreme scenario, but how many of us are even able to keep ourselves stable and detached from people and situations in our daily lives (let alone have the capacity to deal with a challenge of the enormity shared in the above example)? For instance, we may intentionally spend our hard-earned cash on what matters most to us, but we don’t think twice about giving our attention away to others by being emotionally dependent on them one way or another. We become prisoners in our own mind to people and situations from our past by giving them unwarranted attention long after the events have occurred in our lives. It’s as if we are on a leash; a leash that’s controlled by someone else’s hand. For instance, when they are happy, we are happy. When they get sad, we get sad. In other words, we let others disturb our mind through these dependencies. We are taught how to behave and do things right since childhood, but we never learn about how to think, which is vastly more fundamental to our existence as a species.
We may take care of our physical and mental health by way of exercise and reading books respectively, but we rarely spend the time to take care of our emotional health, which is vastly more important for our well-being. Remember, mind over matter.
The purpose of the mind is to think. The problem is, most of the time we let our monkey mind take over our intelligence and values, but we can always choose to change the direction of our thoughts.
Ideally, our intelligence is the leash that should control the mind, but more often it doesn’t. We don’t do things we know we should do because we let our mind take over our intelligence.
In the last draft, I touched on why we need to take care of our mind as a way to heal (and elevate) ourselves, which has a direct impact on our relationships. In this draft, let’s delve deeper into how we can take care of our mind through creating a relationship with ourselves. Because unless we can love ourselves (and be happy with ourselves), we can’t love others (and accept them for who they are). After all, we can only give what we have.
Emotional independence is about keeping ourselves stable in every situation, so we can keep ourselves independent of the energy of people and situations outside. It means we can be of service to others, if/when the need arises. That means even if others have wronged us, our response is not dependent on their response. While there can (and will) be ups and downs outside, we can always (choose to) be stable inside.
Here are some ideas for taking care of our mind, so we can be emotionally stable in every situation.
Give yourself an hour, daily, to create a relationship with yourself. Unless your relationship with yourself is beautiful, harmonizing relationships with others becomes difficult. A relationship with yourself means your way of thinking. Am I thinking nice? Am I thinking right, no matter what? Am I loving myself? Am I accepting myself? Am I grateful to myself? Am I trusting myself? Am I respecting myself? For instance, when we respect ourselves, there is no ego.
Spend some time in solitude every morning. Practice mindfulness through meditation. Daily meditation helps us nourish and keeps our battery (soul power) charged. It improves our awareness, slows down the speed of our thoughts, and helps us be in the moment. Writing morning pages can be another way to find out what has our attention; it’s the one thing I’ve been doing consistently over the years.
We need to be mindful of our thoughts. Our every thought needs to be pure and elevated (particularly in unpleasant situations). Take a minute every hour to check your thoughts. We need to cut out any negative thoughts at its inception and replace it with positive ones. Remember, we are writing our destiny with our every thought.
How we think will become our energy. In any situation with anyone, if we think right in our thoughts, then we are giving good energy to ourselves. That is self-love. If we love ourselves, we need to give good energy to ourselves. When others do wrong, that’s their karma and consequence. But thinking repeatedly about their behavior only depletes our soul power. For instance, if/when we are critical of ourselves, we will do the same for others. We can’t be expected to respect others, when we don’t respect ourselves. Ditto for thinking negatively or having wasteful thoughts — thinking about the past or worrying about the future. While we can forgive others, we can’t stop the consequences of their karma from reaching them. It was their karma, but we created the pain in our mind by holding onto incidents from our past.
Make gratitude a way of life. Create a list of 10 things you’re grateful for every day. More importantly, write why you’re grateful for them. We need to be grateful for not only that what we have but also that which we want to receive, so that we can manifest it into our lives.
One of the many benefits of gratitude is that it stops complaining in its tracks; they are mutually exclusive. It’s hard to complain when you feel grateful.
My intention is pure. That my every karma is right. Nothing wrong can happen with me. I radiate peace, love, and happiness to everyone. I accept others the way they are. I need nothing from anyone. Every soul who meets me will get happiness and contentment from me. I am an angel of God. I always think right no matter what. I influence others without being affected by the energy of people or situations.
We need to learn to stay detached to people and situations in our lives, so we can remain independent of their energy. Nothing should disturb our mind; no one can hurt us without our permission. Besides, we have the power to remain equanimous in our moments of happiness and sorrows, and treat them both the same.
We only ever have control over our mind. This is good news, because we don’t have to be dependent on anyone or anything for our happiness. In-dependent means being dependent only on one who is inside. Only two in-dependent people are capable of having a beautiful relationship.
Ironically, most of our suffering is self-inflicted. I shared earlier:
Most of the negative emotions we experience are caused by other people. It’s ironic that most human suffering is self-inflicted. We concern ourselves with others. We make others’ problems our own. We get stressed/anxious about things that are not in our control. But why do we worry about things we have no control over? We forget that we can only be upset by the choices we make.
We need to practice acceptance. I wrote earlier:
Acceptance simply means there will be different situations and habits/values that other people hold, but we need to stop worrying about what we cannot change. We need to let the problem remain outside of ourselves.
It means to stop thinking about other people’s behavior or about the problem that the situation has created. When we remain stable in our mind, we accept the situation for what it is, freeing the next moment to think about what has to be done. In other words, we become solution-oriented, not problem-focused. We stop thinking of the problem, and start thinking about the solution, because we have already accepted the current circumstance. This requires changing your perception from focusing on the current problem and thinking instead about what we have to do about it.
Our past keeps turning into our present when we keep holding onto our pain, which shows a lack of self-love. We need to forgive ourselves by releasing that incident from our mind. However, it’s natural for those thoughts to come back from time to time. These memories will come and that pain will resurface. It will keep going on inside and it happens only when our mind is somewhat discharged or we happen to be emotionally weak. All we can do is accept that there’s nothing we can do to undo the past except to learn how we could have responded better. The sooner we realize this, the more at peace we can be in the present, and the more we can give to our relationships.
For instance, our relationships may not have the same energy as it did only a short while back, but we need to give ourselves (and others) some time and space to fully recover from our past situations, so we can recreate the same magic together, sans effort, and move forward in our relationship. After all, we are only human (and not robots); it takes time for us to let go of pain from our past, which may be unwittingly keeping us from being ourselves fully with our partners in the here and now, even as our relationship with everyone else around continues to be great. The only way to make our relationships beautiful and harmonious again is to create a beautiful relationship with oneself.
Have no expectations from your relationships. When we give to others freely, we are the first ones to receive, so we don’t have to depend on others for giving to us, which eliminates the need for having any expectations from them. Besides, relationships are about giving (not wanting).
We must always see the good in others. This can be particularly challenging because we usually tend to find faults in others by way of judging them (even inadvertently) or whatnot. Lest we forget, none of us are perfect (and that’s okay). As Emerson once said:
The measure of mental health is the disposition to find good everywhere.
Last, but not least, let’s be mindful of what we consume, as part of our emotional diet. What we read, listen, and watch goes a long way in shaping our thoughts. Similarly, we must be intentional about who we spend time as it has a great influence in our thinking and how we live.
We may spend our money wisely, but we don’t think twice before giving our attention to someone. We are slaves to our emotions and desires. We become enslaved to others. For instance, how often do we get mad at others for the situations in our lives? We have become dependent on others for our happiness. Our behavior is proportional to how others are feeling. When they feel great, we feel great. When they feel sad, we feel sad.
Taking care of our emotional independence is something that should be part of formal education from our childhood, but that’s a rant for another day.
We need to spend some time in the morning to charge our batteries. We do physical and mental training by way of exercise and reading books, but we rarely spend the time to take care of our emotional independence, which is vastly more important than the others.
We need to be calm and at peace irrespective of the situation outside us. Only a stable mind can handle different situations. We need to be mindful in how we use our energy. To stop thinking about others and focus more on our own thoughts so that we can be more present and efficient. While we have no control over people and situations in our life, we can be stable no matter what comes our way. That is the sign of a healthy mind.
The last thing we want is to find ourselves in similar situations (as the one mentioned at the start of this draft), where we are compelled to be stable instantly. Rather, we want to train our mind over our lifetime, so when difficult times arise, we are able to deal with it without forcing ourselves to change overnight. By learning to take care of our mind, we build our emotional independence over time, which will help us to be prepared for any situation when the time arises, including those situations that would be impossible to deal with if our emotional health hadn’t been conditioned this way.
Self-care gives us the power to take care of others. A relationship with ourselves is the foundation to build a beautiful relationship with others. Emotional independence can only be gifted to others when we’ve mastered it ourselves. It’s only when we start taking care of ourselves first, we can take care of others better. There cannot be a bigger gift in our relationships than being emotionally independent.