Be True To Yourself!
Navigate stressful relationships using the yogic moral compass
Life being what it is and people being who they are, it is common to find yourself in sticky situations from time to time. At such times, you either have the choice of staying true to your values or ignoring them in order to avoid disappointing others. If maintaining harmonious relationships is your top priority, it could require shortchanging yourself.When we don’t believe we are allowed to say ‘no’, life becomes an ongoing struggle to satisfy conflicting demands, leaving us guilt-ridden and anxious.
But is it possible to walk the tightrope of relationships — balancing our needs with those of others who matter to us — with ease and integrity? Yogic philosophy shows us how to lead an ethical, authentic and guilt-free life. I like to think of the ‘yamas’, ethical guidelines provided by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras as a yogic compass for navigating life — including the murky waters of relationships.
Next time you feel trapped in a difficult situation, unsure of the best course of action, it may be worthwhile to pause and reflect if your feelings and thoughts are in line with the five yamas. To do this, silently ask yourself the following questions and then take your time to know the right responses that come from within:
1Loving Kindness & Ahimsa, Non-violence: What are my intentions and motivations in this situation? Are they pure? Are they to hurt anyone? If there are two choices of action — will I be hurting myself or anyone else by adopting either path? Even though the other person is feeling hurt, is this a result of my actions? Or is it largely because he chooses to perceive it this way? Have I communicated my reasons and intentions in a loving and kind manner? In the larger scheme of things, what would be a more loving and kind approach to everyone involved?
2Satya,Truthfulness: Am I being honest with myself about my intentions? Are they truly in line with my core values or am I acting out of anger, resentment, pettiness or through my insecurities? Have I been open and honest in my communication with the person involved?
3Asteya, Non-stealing: Am I taking away something I owe the other person by my own choice? Will I be taking away something from myself or other people who matter to me as a result of this? For instance, if I choose to spend time on this request, will it steal into the time I reserve for my children? How does this choice reflect on my duty towards myself or the person involved?
4Brahmacharya, Celibacy: Am I being impulsive or overreacting to the situation instead of being patient and restrained? Have I considered different perspectives? Is my approach balanced?
5Aparigriha, Non-grasping: Am I displaying enough flexibility in my approach? Could I be over-attached to my point of view? Is everyone involved taking responsibility for their own life or is someone playing the role of a controlling bully or helpless victim? Usually just contemplating the first two yamas, nonviolence and truthfulness, will provide the inner clarity that you need — pointing the direction that may be most appropriate in that particular situation. This insight, in turn, will fuel your self-assurance to act in an assertive yet kind manner, ensuring that you stay true to yourself.