Comes a time in life, when one needs to pull back, take stock, question things one has taken for granted – sometimes even existential ones. The Covid pandemic with its eerie lockdowns was such a time. As I learnt to cope with the immediate modifications and adjustments to life under lockdown and isolation, sometimes even failing badly, I found it a perfect time to turn inward to look at myself critically, with an intent to change for the better.
This is a recap of my observations, which I had recorded periodically on my blog. I have provided the links in this post. Do click and read them.
Being rudely reminded of human mortality as millions fell to the pandemic, I decided not to let the urgency to act get blunted with time, as it usually happens when we lose someone dear to us. Time just makes us complacent again. This time though, the dance of death did not stop. Unable to shake off the spectre of death, I started making a lot of changes to the way I thought, acted and lived, determined to change for the better, and not to let the sense of invincibility take over.
These changes included decluttering and downsizing my life in terms of material possessions and other stuff, like quitting social media platforms, looking at life with a fresh and more philosophical perspective, and introspecting – as mentioned at the outset.
My introspection made me face my strengths and weaknesses, some pleasant, some never examined and others not so pleasant. My work was cut out – to become Aware, Acknowledge, Accept the weaknesses and Act to overcome them, towards becoming a better version of myself — the four A‘s, in short.
It was a bonus to discover hitherto unexplored talents, being motivated to revive some hobbies and interests after decades, finding happiness by changing my perspective and connecting more actively with near and dear ones. I also used humour to deal with the paranoia of the L&M about the virus entering the house! I even found ‘change’ outside my window! I am glad to say that these changes I sought to incorporate into my life have largely become habits now.
I have often been accused of overthinking and over analysing a given situation, but if I had to work on myself, self-analysis was necessary however unpleasant the memories or events they evoked.
That was when I became aware of the ubiquity of Ego in humans, and how it impacts actions, reactions and relationships. While Ego can be good if it stops at a sense of self-respect, it can turn toxic when it is accompanied with a variety of negative emotions and actions prompted by those.
Analysing many past events and my reactions and actions, I was dismayed to recollect how my ego had overridden my good sense and made me act smug/judgmental/supercilious/angry on many occasions. ‘But…but…what about the time she hurt me so badly that I had to react?’ my ego prompted trying to justify the action even in retrospect. Chasing this memory came others, where stray comments by well-meaning friends and others about how wrong I was. I remembered how I had bristled in indignation then, trying to justify my actions. I cringed at those memories now.
It was only as I began dealing with my ego that I realised that I was holding on to things — regrets about past mistakes, hurts, remorse, guilt and more. In other words, I was not letting go. Though I had begun letting go of material things and other stuff like quitting social media, it was very tough when it came to intangible things like emotions, and feelings evoked by unpleasant memories. Mastering this is what Soul-Minimalism is all about, which I am still trying to achieve!
This made me aware of the two Go’s I had to work on – my EGo and my inability to Let Go.
“Letting go of ugly moments of any kind can be as easy as deciding to do so, says Corinne Peterson in her memoir.
How I wish she were right, for it takes tremendous courage and will power to be able to do it. This is especially true when it comes to letting go of people who have chosen to ‘move away’ from you for one reason or the other, or no reason at all. It is best to accept that people enter and leave our lives and some of them could be near and dear ones. If we remember that we are all souls on our personal journeys through life it is somewhat easier to accept. Also meeting people or moving away from them depends on the settlement of our mutual karmic debts. This is one lesson which I have had to keep hammering into my head to prevent the hurt.
It also helps to Accept that a mistake cannot be undone, however much one analyses and reanalyses it, simply because we cannot time-travel backwards. It is therefore best to let it go. As we let go of past mistakes, we learn to let go of the negative feelings associated with them too. It didn’t take me long to understand that this one exercise can bring about a sea change in one’s attitude towards life, as it clears past debris and makes way for positive change.
I was making slow progress. Every step forward was offset by several that took me backwards and there was some sideslipping too, but I was progressing nevertheless. And then I hit this deep trench. It was an impulsive decision, completely avoidable had I only been mindful. Seeking validation of a deep wound from someone I trusted, should not have been so bad, but it was. A brusque invalidation undid months of painstaking progress, setting me back several hundred steps. My post on validation explains how traumatic invalidation can be.
For a long while I was unable to come to terms with the shock and anguish of that invalidation. Why did I do it? Perhaps it was my dual failure to curb my ego, and inability to let go. After all, having lived with the wound for so long, and having self-validated it, did I really need any external validation? Wasn’t I better off handling my problems and feelings on my own?
Oops! There I go again, rethinking past mistakes and agonising over them. I pulled myself up. So, I had made a mistake, got hurt, in addition to feeling shame and remorse. I firmly remind myself that it was just another misstep and it is about time I let it go. To make it easier, I console myself that it was just one ‘soul’ settling its karmic debt with another!
I am confident that I will be able to get the hang of the two Go’s in good time, by blunting the false eGo and mastering the art of letting Go. To accomplish these goals, I will work on the four A’s, being Aware of how things affect me, Acknowledging any mistake I make, Accepting that I have many flaws and am still a work in progress, and taking positive Action wherever necessary — to create a better version of me. Wish me luck!
Thank you, Narayan Kaundinya for your lovely post that motivated me to write this one.
Homepage image: https://tinybuddha.com/
Such a let go this essay is. And just making peace with it but reminding oneself to never call it back again is important and important are every small and big feelings that we feel. While reading that sentence of coming close to and meeting people to go back on our paths felt how important is to settle scores while mastering a few things before the final ascent comes, whenever it comes.
Thank you for this one. Only reading this makes one feel light. Thank you.
It’s so nice to read a blog from you after a long break. As usual it made a lot of sense and also rethink.