When some close friends received me at the airport, it was a pleasant surprise.
I generally travel alone, and keep myself busy. But late last night I returned from my five week trip to the UK and four of my dear friends were there.
The surprise filled my heart with joy as well as gratitude. I mean something to someone and I can contribute to another’s well-being is a basic human need. It’s a deep human value to make a difference; their silent and happy celebration at my return was an approval stroke that my soul was seeking. And I wasn’t even aware of this need until they arrived.
What if no one had come to receive me? I guess it would have been another day at work. And what if every time I travel I get friends and fans to be around me? I’d likely get disconnected from myself; I need space and privacy to reflect and keep the flight of my life on track.
Yet a life of solitude can disconnect us from love and goodness of this world; we need encouragement too, and to receive that love from those we serve is a reinforcement that we are on the right path.
To accept I need respect and appreciation is just being human. To deny it is false humility; it’s simply a cry of the soul that feels unworthy and unloved.
However to always hanker for appreciation is foolish because we don’t get it all the time. Approval of those we love is healthy if it’s like a tonic- we get it occasionally. But when it becomes an intoxicant, it’s destructive. An addiction for praise breeds hubris and blinds us to others’ needs. And any amount of encouragement is insufficient; the more we get, the more mind demands; it’s never going to satisfy the heart. At the same time, the need for it is natural.
Once I was assisting a friend in a project and we got busy in our services. Often I was alone doing the work, and would feel discouraged and lonely. Slowly I realized my mind harboured negative thoughts about him; I began to see him as selfish, and unreasonable. I imagined I am unloved and not important for him. ‘He’s just using me’ and ‘No one loves me here’ were the common rants of my dissatisfied mind. Even when we saw each other during our morning services, I avoided eye contact with him.
One day I decided to put an end to this negative spiral that my mind had thrown me into. I called my friend, and softly expressed, “I am assisting you in this service and feel totally lost. I am not sure if you are happy. I need some acknowledgement, if not genuine appreciation for my services.” Immediately he hung up and rushed to my room. He spent the next hour encouraging me, and I realized he truly loves, but had got busy. Later he too clarified that he has limitations in reciprocating with my services, and asked me to not stretch myself beyond my ability.
That day I realized if we openly express our needs and connect to our feelings, we stand a good chance of fulfilling them. Often we accuse others of not loving us when we have a screwed up definition of love in our own heads.
To be continued…..