Wearing those ‘expensive’ filtered glasses..

Couple of years back I was going through a bad phase and I remember cutting off some dear friends from my life who I thought had it all perfect. You know, the perfect husband, perfect child, perfect family, perfect life? I surrounded myself with people whom I thought were like me or were in some way imperfect like me.

When life took a normal turn, I tried to salvage my relationship with the ones I had distanced. I remember a particularly painful conversation with one of them, where she very simply said that just because things look rosy and normal from the outside, it’s not necessarily the truth. She had been going through a tough time in that same period, and her close friend (me) had decided to walk away without giving her a reason for it.

I had simply judged her and in that instant almost lost a friend.

Now I have always touted myself to be somewhat chilled out and rarely judgemental about people, or so I thought. But isn’t this something we do ALL the time? Judge people for their clothes, way of speaking, their background, their lifestyle. And we make stories about them in our head, like how I pictured my friend’s picture-perfect life!

And when I found out I had cancer, it became second nature! I would look at someone and think, well, they have it easy. OR What would they know about a crisis! I would watch TV and look at fit, healthy people and think about the cruel twist in fate. Honestly, it was driving me mad! And in all this muddle, the only person getting hurt constantly was me!

Now all of us view this world with filtered glasses. And these filters keep evolving basis the experiences we have or the biases we have acquired over the years. It’s natural for us to evaluate and sometimes judge/make assumptions. But it’s when the voice in our head wants to take an action that can sabotage self and/or others, that’s when we need to start paying attention. In the above situations, I was sabotaging my peace of mind and my relationships, and this is where I went wrong. It was something not serving me in any way.

I know I have a long way to go to stop judging people. After all, I have been practicing it for 37 years and not easy to shed. So nowadays I’m just mindful of my judgemental thoughts. What works for me sometimes is also a simple positive rationale for the situation/person. I’m not saying it helps all the time, but atleast I feel more in control. And trust me, I do feel a lot better, no negative thoughts, no self sabotaging action, zilch.

Anais Nin an (in)famous French-Cuban American author of her times once said “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”  Which reminds me of a short story from the Mahabharata (an ancient Indian epic).

Bhima (one of the main protagonists of Mahabharat and a Pandava) was supposed to be very strong and had the strength of ten thousand elephants! During his journey through the forest, he found a huge, old monkey lying on a rock with his tail blocking his path. Bhima shouted at the monkey to move away from his path. The monkey got up as if from a deep slumber and asked Bhima who he was and why he was creating so much of noise. Bhima boasted about himself and told the monkey that he was one of the Pandava brothers and that he was the son of Vayu (Wind). Again, Bhima asked the monkey to move away, but the monkey replied that he was too weak and asked Bhima to move his tail aside.

Bhima was red with anger by this time and tried to push the monkey’s tail aside but could not move it even by an inch. He tried again and again with all his might, but in vain. Exhausted, Bhima realized that this was no ordinary monkey. Humbled by this experience, he folded his hands and requested the monkey to reveal his true identity. It was then that Lord Hanuman revealed his true form.

Moral of the story: Often we judge people and things, simply by what we see and not who or what they truly are. And the burden of this unwanted judgement is ours to bear, heavy, exhausting and emotionally turbulent. It’s only when we seek to truly understand ourselves and others, judgment free, that we are happier and lighter.

Do you think it’s worth a try?