In my early childhood days, a magical pot story captured my interest. The innocent kid in me felt that impossible dreams could be realized if you possessed something magical. The essence of the story was that the magical pot fulfilled people’s wishes. The owner of the pot would deposit a dollar in it, and the pot would return $100 back. A mango placed inside it would be replaced by 100 mangos. Anything planted in the pot would be multiplied by a hundred. A wise person possessing the extraordinary pot would take care of the precious item and not allow dirt, spiders, or anything unpleasant in the pot. They would only deposit what they wanted in return.
We are, in a way, designed very similar to this mystical pot. If we take negativity from outside, we give back negativity to others. I had no clue about my magical blueprint. I thought taking stress, worry, and anger was a natural part of living. I had no idea that taking pain would result in giving pain back to others. If I had the knowledge about my real functioning, I would have taken care to reject negativity coming from others. The concept about my extraordinary design became clearer as I started practicing the Raja Yoga meditation taught by Brahma Kumaris.
Why do we take pain?
Our expectations from ourselves, people, and situations are the biggest reasons for taking pain. We react with anger, jealousy, or sadness when our desires are not met. Overtime our experience of negativity increases, as more and more of our wishes remain unfulfilled. That repeated experience of pain leads us to worry about the future. The worry becomes fear about being sad again when our expectations are not met. The desires themselves are not a problem; it is our attachment to them that causes pain. We bind ourselves to the desire by saying that we can be happy only when our wishes come true.
Let’s assume that our expectations are reasonable. For example, it is fair if we expect our kids to respect us. Most people will say it is natural to feel hurt if kids pay disregard to us. At Brahma Kumaris I was corrected that it is not natural to feel anything negative. Our innate qualities are positive, and that is the number one reason why we all desire peace, love, and happiness. The right thing to say is that it has become very common to feel hurt in the present world. Does feeling hurt fix the problem? Do we feel empowered, and do our kids realize their mistake because of our hurt? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then it makes sense for us to keep taking more pain from others.
Why do we take more pain from our near and dear ones rather than our acquaintances?
The most logical answer is that our expectations from our close ones is a lot more than the ones that are not so close. Why do we want so much from our dear ones? Again, many might just say it is natural to have hopes from near ones. That reason does not give us any comfort when the dear ones give us hurt instead. It allows us to take even more pain and become more sad.
We generally do not walk away from a close relationship. For example, a mother would not easily break away ties with her children because they disrespected her. Whereas, if relationship is formal then it is easier to move away from it. For example, an employee could easily decide to quit a job if they did not like their relationship with the manager. One of the reasons we take more pain from near ones is because of our frustration that we can’t move away from them even if we wanted to. We feel suffocated in the relationship, yet we have no way to escape. That bondage makes us experience even more hurt than we normally would. Some of us try to break the relationship to relieve the pain. Do people who break the relationship stop thinking about it?. They have moved away physically from the person causing pain, but are they mentally free? Shouldn’t we figure out a way to not take pain from the ones we see regularly? Our ego does not let us find a way out of this misery. We feel others are wrong and they need to change. Suppose we are right, even then does it justify taking pain? Isn’t there another way out?
Why it is important to not take pain?
- Life is too short, beautiful, and precious
My simple answer to this question would be life is too beautiful and precious to waste it in being sad. This one ideology helped me to keep myself happy even in the past. It made me take the responsibility of keeping myself content. If I had taken pain from the people whom I see day in and day out, my life would have been ugly and hopeless.
- To live in the present and stay focused
How do we feel when we are irritated, worried, or hurt? Our mind is disturbed, and it repeatedly creates the same thought that so and so should not have happened. In fact, we re-live the unpleasant moment of the past a gazillion times in our mind. We reside in the past because it was never settled. We never found the reason for our unmet expectations. If we give ourselves permission to take pain, then we are also giving ourselves permission to live in the past. A bitter feeling is not felt just once when it happens. We repeatedly feel it by reviving it in our mind. Does this sound like something we should be doing? Many of us desire to be more focused or want to live in the present. If the past is haunting us, then how can we be focused?
- Be independent and self-sufficient
The purpose of our life is to be happy. Every action of ours is geared towards meeting this purpose. If we allow taking pain from others, then it will completely block us from reaching this goal. Our design is such that we continue to subconsciously push ourselves to meet the purpose even though we are consciously moving away from it. On one hand we take pain from people and move away from being happy. On the other hand we try to comfort ourselves by consuming unhealthy food, watching TV for hours, or shopping until our wallets are empty. The negativity we take from others makes us dependent on consumerism for our well being. It leads to all sorts of addictions. How long will the crutches (food, TV, shopping, social media) last? My experience is that the dependency on these crutches increases. Soon our physical, financial and mental health gets affected, and it doesn’t allow us to use these inadequate methods. How do we comfort ourselves then?
- Avoid desperation that leads to giving pain to others
The more negativity we take from outside, the more desperate we feel to become positive again. We are designed like this whether we accept it or not. Every time we allow ourselves to feel hurt, our state of well being drops from its equilibrium. This imbalance we feel inside makes us very desperate to become comfortable again. When we are desperate, our patience and tolerance level drops. Our longing to be happy makes us take short cuts that hurt others. Our simple desires for people to behave, talk, and do things as per our liking turns into loud demands. If they do not oblige, we use quick methods like yelling, manipulating, and withdrawing to make others agree. The pain we took is now being given to others. It is irony that we empty ourselves by taking pain, and we feel that it can be fulfilled by giving pain. We give more pain to the near and dear ones, because we know they won’t leave us.
- It does not fix anything and breaks everything
Do our short cut methods of giving pain ever work? Does tit for tat ever work? Maybe in the short term people do as they are told to. But in the long run, does that relationship become strong or weak? We took pain because others were wrong, and we give pain because we are right. Does that sound sensible? Does it make the people who are wrong correct themselves or does it want them to move away from us?
To sum up, we reflect what we absorb. If we consume negativity from the outside, then we will radiate it back. We are so careful in refusing anything that is rotten, spoilt, or degraded. Will we ever allow our neighbors to dump their trash in our backyard? Do we ever use a low quality birthday gift? Do we consume stale food items? We are so careful about physical well-being by refusing use of degraded stuff. Shouldn’t we be showing similar care for our emotional well-being by rejecting negativity from others?