Recently I helped a few friends resolve their differences. Their misunderstandings had grown deeper, and I feared their relationship would strain. The first day I mediated, in my desperate attempt to improve the situation, I spoke many suggestions. At the end of the first round of meeting, we all left more confused and troubled. That night I reflected on what went wrong. I realized instead of trying to understand I listened with an intent to speak or advice.
The following day, I heard them without judgment- I restrained my urge to talk, remembering the Spanish proverb, “Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.” Slowly, when I convinced my friends by my actions, that I had understood them, I requested them to do the same with each other. One of them volunteered first to understand the others, resisting his natural urge to speak or get his point across. When the other person was satisfied he was understood, then it was his turn to understand.
Slowly but surely, the mood changed- from defensive, my friends turned accommodative at first and then appreciative of the others.
The simple act of controlling our urge to speak paid such rich dividends during this episode. Imagine, if we could practice these principles daily, at various aspects of our existence, what rich experiences await us to explore and enjoy? We often imagine billionaires or Presidents enjoying their great lives but little do we realize we too could live like great emperors if we choose self-discipline. John Milton, the English poet of the seventeenth century, best known for his grand poem, ‘Paradise Lost’ reassures us, “He, who reigns within himself, and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.”
Determination for a noble purpose
Some people do practice strict self-control but in an attempt to delay gratification. When they do let loose their senses, often it’s inordinate- the mind takes back what it was denied, with substantial interest. That’s because saying ‘no’ to sense pleasures without a deeper ‘yes’ burning inside is merely repressive, and would bring no real benefits.
To be continued…