THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL
Pic.: Neetu Sharma Sachdeva
I insist that none of my students remains absent whenever I start a new chapter. “You will find it very difficult to build it afterwards,” I remind them, repeatedly, “Please don’t miss the basics.”
Well, I, always, convey that in a very, very honest, firm and gentle way. I have, always, believed that appealing to the hearts is more effective than appealing to the heads. When hearts change, heads do, too.
So, eight out of ten understand the significance of my words and they don’t miss the basics. They try their level best not to get dragged away by their peers’ or others’ priorities. Yes, the appeal to heart works.
And, what about the remaining two? Am I compelled to use ‘force’ with them? Yes, they are still casual… still do not understand the value of my words. So, what works with them?
I have tried force and failed!
Our ego doesn’t let us drop our sense of control. We feel helpless – impotent – when we see us losing control on others – our children, our students, our spouses, our subordinates etc. There is this illusion that we can, and we should, control… that, our children, students and subordinates should obey us, respect us… listen to us, accept our ideas and advice. Yes, that’s a deep-seated illusion… that, the loss of control on others is the loss of our self-respect and self-control!
We are able to let go of this frustrating exercise only when we are able to recognize its futility. Once that is done, peace settles, on its own… and, ironically, others change, too. Trust me, they change even better than we expect them to!
“You are old enough to understand what I am saying,” last evening, I told some of the students who had remained absent despite my earnest appeal, “You know how I try to convince my students… I try to appeal to your hearts… I avoid involving parents, avoid punishment… I constantly strive to help my students see the value of my advice.” Then, I added, “Tell me, if I am not able to connect with you directly how can I ever do that indirectly?”
Let me confess: even as I gently persuade my students to see the point I am trying to make, my mind is still restless: It wants control!
But, in my case, the heart, eventually, prevails!
People change only if and when they want to… not if and when I want them to.
True, my desperation to control others is a big illusion born out of my ego… The more desperate I am, the more restless, the more tormented!
Love and compassion mellow our hearts… Letting go just happens when our hearts are overpowered by them…
“Please don’t miss the basics,” I finally end up telling myself, “You will find it very difficult to build afterwards!”
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