Umpteen Shades of Grey

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A “note to self” for many of us who look at things as black or white a lot of the time; and to those of us who are constantly judging what we experience, through ‘our’ perspective towards life. And also to those of us who are reading this now, and making a quick mental note with pride, telling ourselves “I don’t judge !” Let me gently break that bubble for you; If you are human then you fit the bill, you are one of us too.

Judging is an essential life skill that helps to discern and differentiate the various experiences we encounter, enabling and aiding us in making healthier choices. How we use it in life or how attachment to our judgements tie us down is a different conversation,

We usually seem to have an opinion on how someone ought to conduct themselves or live their lives. We become moral police of the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ of humanity. As long as we are looking outward, we avoid looking inward. As long as we are making it about someone else, we avoid looking at ourselves.

I went down this path a couple of weeks ago when I started to judge a friend on her choices about various aspects of her life and about something she did that hurt me. Not only did I judge her but I also wanted to fix her. I am sure that at some point I even thought it was my duty towards humanity to have her see the “light”! It all sounds ridiculous, right? That’s only a start. The follow-through of that thought is even more ridiculous. I also got on a mini-mission to build evidence to support my views. When we get on the Ferris-wheel of moral high ground, it does take us for a big spin.

And then, it suddenly hit me once again that it’s not my business to fix her or change her. I had to revisit a couple of old agreements.

  • People are fully capable of making their own decisions.
  • People are naturally, creative, resourceful and whole. Nobody needs to be saved, not even us.
  • We cannot change anyone. That was not in our manifesto when came to this life. We might be able to influence change by walking our talk or leading by example, but that’s as far as it goes.
  • We each have our perspectives towards life. We don’t know what motivates someone’s actions. We don’t know their story or their pain. We don’t know their ‘whys’, and it’s arrogant of us to make assumptions. So let us not take anything personally.
  • Each of us here is on a unique process and journey. We have our demons to face, and many layers to shed as we walk our path. We have our challenges, and lessons to learn from the consequences of our choices. Why would we want to take away from someone’s natural life experience by interfering in the process? That’s a gift life is giving them. Why are we controlling or manipulating the natural flow of life?
  • People, things, situations and LIFE cannot be classified merely into just categories such as right & wrong, or black & white. That’s just an automatic way our mind works to sort uncomfortable information to avoid confusion within ourselves. There is no black and white. There are umpteen shades of grey, seamlessly blending with one another.

So, finally, after a few weeks of trying to play God, l finally came to my senses, I let go. I dropped my attachment towards how she ought to be. Yes, good for her. No more advice and subtle manipulation from my end. But it was the best act of service I did for myself as I felt so much lighter about not carrying so much mental baggage and responsibility.

If an act of one, is not hurting or causing harm to either us, them or another or taking away from the core of humanity, do we need really to have a say? Do we have to have an opinion on everything?

There is a blindside to this, though. These feel-good larger than life ideals can have us have us embrace the Utopian philosophy. Get slapped on one cheek and show the other one because we have so much compassion for the world. When we are striving so hard to not to take anything personally, and are accepting of humanity, we might end up being passive observers and recipients of another’s behavior at the cost of our well being.

That is why boundaries are so essential. If boundaries could speak, I imagine, they would say, “I accept you, I understand you, I don’t judge you, I don’t take things personally AND….this does not work for me, and I would like you to respect that”. The dialogue would begin from there.

We need boundaries to feel safe enough to be open and authentic with others. I mean boundaries, not walls! Our values, the awareness of what does or doesn’t work for us and shades of grey we can currently tolerate can/could/will/would drive and influence our boundaries. If we stay conscious and present, our tolerance to the range of greys will keep getting higher. And in the end, it all comes down to love right?

Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.”― Rumi

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