BY CAROLE SAWO
If it wasn’t for ‘other people’, we’d be OK – right? When life naturally brings us its own challenges and difficulties, the last thing we need to add to our burden, is the stress and pressure brought on often unnecessarily and unfairly, by ‘other people’.
We might wonder, if only we could be left alone to just get on with it, without all the added complications, distractions, insults and energy drains from others, life would certainly seem more manageable, digestible and maybe, a lot happier. But alas. We live in a world now rammed full of other people.
To use a phrase I’m not really that keen on, ‘studies have shown’, that wherever large numbers of people live together in close proximity, or literally on top of each other, there are higher rates of poverty, crime, and social stress!!! However, we don’t really need a study to let us know that we need our own space – not only to move about in, but to rest, to think and to breathe.
Great philosophers muse that ‘Heaven and Hell are other people’. Well, they can certainly bring in both, or rather, can bring out both in us! Being someone who teaches that we should endeavour to get the best out of every experience, I also have a nod in the direction of the necessity of others in our lives, to satisfy our fundamental need for human relationships, whether we like it or not. Especially given that the opposite is isolation. Other people keep us in check. Then there is the perhaps unpalatable thought that I should probably raise at some point in this article … that to others, we are the ‘other people’.
So what alchemical glissette might I fathom in the rub of having to deal with unfair other people? For I’m surely not going to jump on the irritating bandwagon of those who spout ‘you can’t choose what happens to you but you can simply choose your reaction’. Tut. For those who have been neurologically and psychologically conditioned from birth to react impulsively first without thinking, there is nothing simple about overriding a hard-wired survival instinct. Incident-reaction-man down.
There is, however, a useful gem to consider here. Even if we are either quick to react or prone to suffer, we might at least begin to practice the highly useful skill of waiting. Not only for Karma to bring in the clipboard, but for calmer to bring in the chalkboard. We must immediately take our fingers off the keyboard. Put the phone down. Keep one’s lips tightly fastened and sublimate our annoyance by pounding the running machine. For the absolute best reason I can give you to learn to practice or achieve waiting before reacting, is respect – the kind of quiet long-after-the-explosion respect, which we get to have for ourselves when we know that under fire, we, at least, conducted ourselves well. And that kind of lasting and deep self-respect is a whole other level of self-mastery upgrade, that we might never have gotten to practice and experience, if it wasn’t for other people.