“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” —  Epicurus

The usual joyfulness associated with the monsoon rain was missing on that unusual evening. The clouds were gathering in unison as if to show their resentment to something that was definitely not to their liking. The ferocity with which the rains chose to lash that piece of earth was somewhat unprecedented.

Sitting on a secluded rock and drenched to his bones, Swapnil couldn’t be bothered much by this extreme weather conditions. The consistency of downpour made it extremely difficult to differentiate the non-saline droplets from the saline ones dripping from the cheeks of Swapnil. But unfortunately, no one except multistorey passionate waves kissing the rocks were there to witness that tragic moment.

He wasn’t heartbroken for the first time, but the fact that his girlfriend dumped him for his own big brother came as a completely unexpected push from behind.

His brother, Samay was someone he always looked up to  —  someone who could be trusted, emulated, and followed blindly. Samay was everything that Swapnil ever aspired to become one day. Everything done by Samay was seen as an extraordinary achievement by his younger brother.

Although the age difference between the two brother was only four years, yet Samay was Swapnil’s role model and hero. So much so that his friends used to tease him about literally following the exact footprints of Samay. In fact, even the pursuit of dream for Swapnil was something borrowed from his big bro.

However never in his whole life, he could ever be jealous of Samay. Surprisingly, the feeling towards him was always of awe and respect — a feeling that was rarely reciprocated by his brother.

But then what did he do to deserve this from someone as special as his real-life hero? 

How’s he going to recover from this emotional setback?

Before an attempt to find the answer to these queries let’s have a look at this incident from the perspective of mirror analogy.


If you can recall one of the most popular scenes in the movie “Enter the Dragon”, where Bruce Lee is chasing the villain and ends up inside an arena full of mirrors. There is a scene where there are mirrors everywhere and after a while, it becomes difficult to differentiate the reflections from reality.

I know it’s impossible to imagine yourself in that situation. But as a thought experiment if you can afford to imagine yourself in that arena full of mirrors, you can see that one mirror might show your face; another might just show you the portion of your back legs and another your side arms, your buttocks and your head and so on.

Now out of these mirrors, some might also show you aspects of yourself that you might have never seen before. 

Others might just show you aspects of yourself that you detest. At the same time, some may show you the aspects you may be proud of.

The mirrors, which show those aspects of yourself that you like and were not even aware of, you’d love to see them. 

On the other hand, those mirrors, which show you aspects of yourself that you don’t like, you wouldn’t like to have a re-look at them.


The whole idea behind this thought experiment is to make you realize that all these mirrors are nothing but an opportunity to reflect upon your relationships and situations. This could be facilitated further by following these three steps, which might bring conspicuous shift in your perspective:

Step 1

Recognize that these people in your life whom you don’t want are there to show you those very aspects of themselves that you dislike. 

What you dislike about them exists in you while you simply refuse to accept it.

There is a very high possibility that this thought might trigger instant non-acceptance.

However, it’s important to understand that the mirror can show us what we are blind to and that is precisely what makes it useful. From that perspective, not only they are playing a significant role but rarely do they get any appreciation for all their hard work while contributing to your growth.

In the case of Swapnil, his unconditional love for big brother & ex-girlfriend have unfortunately resulted in an unbearable acrimonious experience. 

However, it’s very difficult for Swapnil to accept what he dislikes about both of them kind of already exists inside him, while he simply refuses to accept it.

But at the same time, at the very core of his sub-conscious, Swapnil was always apprehensive of reciprocation in his existing relationships. Somehow that apprehension had taken deep root in form of fear and was getting an opportunity to manifest itself through his personal relationships. Now it was up to Swapnil to recognize this and come to terms with it.


Step 2

Recognize that all the possible situations in your life that you are stressed about, or you’d like to change are here to change you. You might have witnessed that by simply focusing on getting rid of unwanted people & unwanted situations doesn’t help much.

Acceptance that there is something to be learned in those situations makes all the difference. 

Once you focus on how this situation is making you understand your limits and stretching you beyond it, you will stop fearing the uninvited situations in your life. 

Soon you would be in a better position to identify those limits and acknowledge your own growth by going beyond them.

There is no denying that Swapnil is in an unenviable situation, but this seemingly unwanted circumstance is ripe with multiple opportunities. Only if Swapnil is willing to rise above his own limitations he can see himself grow beyond his perceived vulnerabilities.


Step 3

Accept that fulfillment of all that you desire is neither possible nor advisable for your own long-term growth. 

Allow yourself to have faith that even if you fail to achieve what you want right now, the unlimited possibilities in the future can’t be negated simply because you can’t foresee them.

To counter this fear of failure, you can try focusing on what will go wrong if you get what you want.

With this shift in focus, there is every possibility you could appreciate all those outcomes that aren’t aligned with your desires. 

Once your precious energy is rightfully aligned with the acceptance of every possible outcome, it stops defending themselves against outcomes perceived as undesirable.

Letting go of a desire does not mean that you shouldn’t indulge in one. It only means that you are simply letting go of the attachment part and surrendering yourself to the wisdom of this universe.

In all probability it can trigger fear of loss, however, this very fear could be keeping the desire from becoming your reality. Surrendering it will allow the universe to facilitate it in the best possible way.

Eventually, we all need to understand that it’s all about accepting each aspect of ourselves. Each person and situation that we attract is only meant to give us more growth. Externalizing the person or the situation does not get rid of the mirror forever.

A mirror, in fact, cannot show you what you aren’t carrying. Hence rather than focusing on changing the mirror through getting rid of the respective relationship or situation, a wiser choice is to accept the person or situation and to understand why they exist in your life and what are they trying to show you.

And there in lies all the answers that we might be seeking  —  this way when we are done with the mirror (a particular relationship or situation) it will eventually give way to another.


Resources:

Want more on this topic? Here’s where to look:

Mystic’s Musing by Sadhguru

Infinity by Minal Arora

Social: Why our brains are wired to connect by Matthew D. Lieberman

I am a full time bureaucrat who loves to play at the intersection of Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, and philosophy.
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I am a full time bureaucrat who loves to play at the intersection of Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, and philosophy.

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