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I realised that most people face the same things/situations. Though the scenery may be different, the characters may be different, the circumstances may be different, but it was the same damn emotion, same reaction/action, and the same outcomes too! It just blew me away to start seeing the same patterns around me and what had happened to me was happening all around. The same mistakes were happening too.

This time, since these situations were happening to someone else and not to me, I was able to observe as an outsider.

When good things happen, people are very quick to give themselves credit, but when difficult things happened, the reason was almost always someone else. And what I saw was that most people had explanations for every bad thing that happened to them and all these explanations were always about someone else. “He did that to me” or “The situation was like that” or “This happened out of nowhere” or “It must be fate/destiny/karma” or the classic victim angle “Why did this happen to me only?” It was very rare that I would find vocabulary that would say “I screwed up, I was responsible or I can respond better next time around”. One or two people out of many would admit this to themselves. And when I heard that from the person, the realization somehow comes into you that this person is going to do something with his/her life, because he seems to have not mortgaged the outcomes of his life to incidents or other people. This person has taken responsibility, or rather, I realized later that this person has built the ability to respond. This ability to respond, gave out a strong vibe, of a person in absolute balance and control of how they were within themselves.

Whatever situation this person would face, you just knew that they would be able to handle it and you would be able to put your trust behind them. In a difficult situation, you would go to this person blindly. That kind of vibe. It is not that this person faced different situations, but rather with responsibility taken up, you knew this person would take it up upon him/her to face the situation.

Was it possible to be like this? I wanted to be like this! I wanted to be responsible! And for the first time in my life, I felt a sense of absolute freedom, the likes of what I had not felt before. To be responsible for your own life, for your own emotions, for whatever you are.

This was freedom.

And as I observed more such people, I observed the situations in my life as well. Every situation that came presented an opportunity to me – to be responsible or to be not. And it came in almost everything that I did. Even in my home, let’s say if a stray used plate was lying about, I had a choice – to ignore it hoping someone else would do it or respond to it and take it to the washbasin and clean it and keep it. Or if a difficult conversation coming up with your friend/family member, I could let someone else take up the ball or avoid it completely or I could respond to the situation – whatever my response was didn’t matter – to the best of my ability, I could respond. Like this, I would start seeing hundreds of opportunities for me to respond! At first, I would pick and choose what I wanted to respond to and what I didn’t like, I wouldn’t respond to. But then I realized that this was missing the point. Doing what you like and avoiding what you didn’t like – this again was not taking up responsibility. This meant a lot of trouble. If I only think that I will choose to respond to only what I liked in life, then when things went bad (as they do in life from time to time), I would be incapable of handling them. It would lead to a deep sense of misery within myself, which was what was happening for all these years. If I could hand the sweet and sour of life with equanimity, then being joyful, being peaceful, being capable were not issues anymore. Because whatever the situation, I am ready!

It took me some time, but I slowly opened up myself to be responsive to everything around me. And the response does not always mean action.

If a cool breeze was blowing on my terrace and it was inviting me to respond with silence, I would spend those few minutes being in silence and just be with the breeze.

What changed next?

1.   Am I Responsible or the Victim?
2.   Emotion, Reaction, Action & Outcomes too…
3.   Being able to respond, the way of life!

About the writer - Vishal S Rao

An MBA from IIM Bangalore and a rank holder Chartered Accountant, Vishal is a deep thinker. A man of few words, Vishal more than makes up for it through his writings. His words are measured with intricate meaning hidden in them.

Vishal has worked for KPMG and was in a leadership role at Aditya Birla. Currently, he is trying his hands at the restaurant business.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

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