Vinita Dawra Nangia
Instead of trying to change the one thing you do not like in your loved one, how about focusing on the many you love?Is there anyone in the world you like totally? As in, approve everything about that person, all the time? Even if you are wildly, obsessively in all-consuming love? Even if you have your rose-tinted glasses pushed right back up your nose? Can you honestly say there is nothing at all about your loved one you would rather change?
Surely not. It cannot be possible to like everything about even the one person you love most in the world — be it a parent, a child, or the man or woman in your life! There will always be at least one trait you dislike, one negative you would rather wish away.
And therein starts our quest to change those we love most. If only that teeny weeny thing about them could be changed — a habit given up, a personality trait dropped or another acquired! Parents go beyond the formative years of kids and waste precious time and energy trying to change their adult offspring! People even attempt to influence a change in traits of old parents!
And yet one negative trait cannot possibly make you give up totally on a loved one. A recent article in Los Angeles Times talks critically of a therapist who advised a woman to totally sever all ties with her father since he was “evil”. When the author, a social psychologist Carol Tavris, asked the woman if she thought her father was 100 per cent bad, she replied, “No, I think he’s a normal guy who made some mistakes.”
For one negative, you cannot possibly give up an entire relationship. Couples spend entire lifetimes trying to change each other to tally with their idea of perfection.
How much better life would be if we just accepted each other as we are! And just learn to turn a blind eye to the little things we don’t like, even as we make the most of the vast things we love about each other.
Why is it compulsory to like everything about a friend? You can pick on what you like and focus on that, turning a blind eye to what you do not approve of. Must you go around trying to change the world? You can value a friend for her loyalty and generosity and forgive her for her streak of cattiness. You can love the side of her that you cherish and simply accept, even ignore, the one you disapprove of. What a sense of peace that brings to a relationship!
Now, if nobody can be perfect, no one can be all bad either. Even in the worst of humans, we can find some goodness we can relate to and appreciate. How can anyone be all good or all bad? How can you be all right or all wrong? You wouldn’t be human if you were! Gods and Goddesses too have their weak spots and moments. It was the wonderfully good, maryada purushottam (finest specimen of a human being) Ram who turned away from his devoted wife Sita.
Tavris in her article goes on to talk of Gandhiji ‘who reached the highest moral stage and yet often treated his wife, family and followers in a harsh manner’; Martin Luther King Jr, ‘who led the civil rights movement and gave up his life for it, yet was a womaniser’. Vietnam war hero John Paul Vann, ‘who performed astonishing feats of bravery, yet was an obsessive seducer!’
In her latest book The Power, Rhonda Byrne urges, “Notice the things you love in other people, and turn away from the things you don’t so you don’t give them any feeling.” She goes on to say, “If you can’t love the good in someone or something simply turn away … turn away by looking for the things you love in life!”
I have yet to read the book (even though the Newsweek review urges all to stay away from it), but to me the extract seems to echo what I am trying to say here.
Much like you would do at a buffet, take the best from each human being and from every relationship and enjoy it to the fullest. And just as you would walk past the dishes you don’t care about, do not focus on what you don’t like and so get hassled or make futile attempts to change it!