1st September 2019
I am currently spending some time in north India with my in-laws. I am talking about eight people, three generations and different cultures in addition living together in limited space. Monsoon is still going on, meaning it is not only very hot, but also humid. The possibilities of going out of the house; or avoiding each other in any way are very limited. The choice is going to a restaurant or café; or going shopping – usually one after the other. But how often can you do this? I, myself, not very often.
Whenever different human beings come together in a limited space for a longer period of time and interact with each other, tensions rise. The mood shifts quickly up and down, and I feel a bit like riding a roller coaster.
A bit of drama here, a little more drama there; and even more drama everywhere. Emotions are running high and in some cases with no limits. Welcome to human nature.
Do you sometimes wonder where all the pain and suffering in the world come from?
The answer lies hidden behind our expectations and our perception.
We all have certain expectations. We expect people to behave and act in certain ways. We expect our life to unfold in certain ways. We even expect the whole world to evolve in a certain way – of course, at best around us.
Today, I want to shed some light on our expectations we have towards our fellow human beings.
Are our expectations not met, we can become sad, frustrated, and sometimes even angry. Staying too long in one of these emotions it becomes a mood which causes us suffering.
Over the last few days I observed and experienced this phenomenon with my in-laws here in India. Expectations are running extremely high because we see each other only every few years for a few days. As a result, frustration and anger can arise quickly. One leads to another and this causes drama.
We all expect certain things from one another. The question is whether you communicate what you expect from the other person. Do you ask them whether they are ready and willing to meet your expectations, to fulfil them?
Most of us cannot read minds, do not have a crystal ball; and generally, we all are doing pretty badly when it comes to the matters of telepathy ;-). Throw all this into a pot, add a pinch of lack of communication and stir well. Voilà, there you have your suffering and pain. In this case THE Bollywood drama.
Okay, let’s look onto the bright side of life. Let’s think about how to get out of the drama-swamp, or even better how we can avoid it altogether. Only you can change something.
One of my guiding principles is communication, communication, communication … J. Mostly it is so easy, we just used it in an appropriate way:
Step # 1:
Tell people, what you expect of them (if possible in a nice and friendly manner), and let them know why it is important to you.
Step # 2:
Ask them, whether they are ready to commit to it and to what extent.
In case the answer is ‘No’ …
Step # 3:
In case the answer is ‘No’, accept it. It is their right to say ‘No’ and they deserve your acceptance, your respect, and understanding.
Make yourself clear, that a ‘No’ is not the end of the world. Most probably the ‘No’ has nothing to do with you; and does not mean that you can never ask anything of them again. It is just what it is: a ‘No’ right here and right now, in this very moment – nothing more. I do not want to imply that you are going to pester your fellow humans with the same request every day from now on. I just want to assert that everything changes at any given moment.
Think of someone else who might be ready to commit to your expectations; or – even better – think of a way how you can fulfil your own needs.
In case the answer after step #2 is ‘Yes’:
Be happy and enjoy life.
By communicating your expectations you allow others to decide whether they can and want to commit to it, and help you or not. This way you keep tensions out of your relationships, and you will get support from the person that really wants to assist you.
Let us have look at the second drama ingredient which is Perception.
There is actually something as an objective world. It is our physical world: rocks, trees, lakes, etc., everything that is tangible in some way. And then there is our internal world – our reality which is created by our thoughts.
It is not the events in your life that cause your suffering; it is your thoughts about these events. Whatever happens to you is just what it is, an event; nothing more or less. This is fact. What you think about this event, how you experience it, and which thoughts you allow to occur and to linger, and/or even to grow and manifest, is entirely up to you.
You are a creator. You create your truth, your reality, your world.
Please, allow me, to use my Indian family as an example one more time; and I hope they will forgive me for that. Please, remember this is only an example. Perception is a potential risk factor with everything you experience, and therefore your life and, of course, your relationships. Okay, back to my in-laws. Their mother tongue is Hindi and/or Punjabi, my mother tongue is German; and there is this in-between language, English, which is spoken more or less by everyone. This fact in itself is already a huge challenge. As if interpersonal communication was not tricky enough in one culture with one common language. Here we have different cultures and three languages clashing together.
It happens that family members talk in their mother tongue Hindi and my name pops up now and then.
What do I think or feel when my name pops up in a conversation and I don’t know what it is about?
If I had a low self-esteem, or a tendency to negative thinking my perception could be one like:
“There we go again, always talking in Hindi. As if they don’t know I am not understanding what they are talking about. I think they do it on purpose. Maybe they even don’t want me to know what they are talking about; or, even worth, they are badmouthing me.”
This way of thinking could generate emotions such as sadness and anger. In case I would concentrate even more on the negative and get worked up about this with thoughts like …
“They just don’t like me.”
“I will never please them with anything.”
“This is not fair, why don’t they speak in English.”
“They are rude. What the hell. They are impertinent.”
“Why do they segregate me like this?”
Now, I am boiling on the inside. My prevailing mood is one of frustration, anger and sadness. I am miserable and at the next opportunity the drama unfolds.
Having a healthy self-confidence and general positive thinking, I could also have the following perception:
“Well, it’s a pity I don’t understand them, but it is their mother tongue and naturally they will speak it. How can I expect them to speak English all day long, only I am here for a few days ever so often? I know that humankind is naturally lazy. Hence, of course they will speak their mother tongue. Talking in a foreign language is strenuous and it is in human nature to save energy for important things, like fight or flight in case the sabre-toothed tiger comes around the corner (in the broadest sense this happens nowadays more often than we might think). And, as I am here for a visit right now, it is absolutely normal that my name is mentioned in a conversation – in what sense is a different kind of story.”
This way I concentrate on myself and can stay calm and relaxed.
Do I actually really mind having my name popping up in a conversation in a foreign language in real life?
Okay, I admit that I am curious. I am a nosy living being, otherwise, I would not be a good coach being able to ask the right questions at the right moment.
But do I bother? Does it make me angry or sad?
No, I don’t mind them doing so.
Why doesn’t it bother me?
Just kidding. However, I often tell my seminar attendees: “In case someone asks you why, just say because.” ;-)
It does not bother me because I think that I always try to do my best at any given moment. I am friendly and respect everyone. Whether all this is enough and to everyone’s liking is not up to me. I cannot influence their thoughts, emotions or actions. I can only care about my thoughts, emotions, and actions.
My observation, education and experience of the last 20 years has shown me that we all perceive our world in our very own special way. We take an experience and add our thoughts and emotions to it. However, perceiving experiences like we do can create all sorts of misunderstandings and therefor suffering and pain – drama.
The more attention you give a thought, the more you focus on it, the more you manifest it and bring it to life. You relate to your perception as if it is an event actually happening in the objective world. The tricky fact is, that no one else knows about your thought, your truth, and your world. Your thoughts do not exist outside of your mind. They are not part of the objective world which is tangible to everyone. Your internal world is private and cannot be experienced by anyone else but you. It is your private stage. Hence, your perception, your reality, your world does not affect anyone but you in any way.
It can be quite scary to realise that you are the only person living in your world created by your thoughts. However, experiencing this truth is your chance to ask yourself the following:
“Is it really true.”
This is actually one of my favourite questions. It is part of Katie Byron ‘The Work’. You can apply this question at any circumstances. Whatever happens in your life, whatever you experience and perceive, whatever you think and feel, take a few deep breaths, and then ask yourself:
Is it really true?
…and then …
Can I be sure this is the truth and nothing else but the truth?
In case you answer truthfully you can change your way of thinking and live a stress-free and much more balanced life.
It is in your hands, well actually in your mind, in your thinking, to change your world for the better. You choose which thought you want to focus on. You write the story of our life. You create our own reality. You create your own world. How great is that?
As I go back to my next and most probably 10th meal today, I leave you to contemplate and digest the above.
I am so curious, so please let me know what you think.
Sending you love and light.
Be well, yours,
inner works for you
sibylle chaudhuri | coaching & training
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© sibylle chaudhuri | coaching & training