Another word for life is “relationships”. Come to think of it, our life is full of relationships. Some are important and some not so much. As time passes, we develop a core group, which invariably consists of the most important relationships of our lives.
Imagine a huge circle. This circle is filled with lots of small circles. This huge circle is your life with you in the middle. The smaller circles represent the relationships in your life. Any and every person that exists in your life becomes a circle, for example your father, your mother, your spouse, your child, your friend, your boss, your enemy, your neighbour and so on. The circles that are important are closer to the centre, with the inconsequential ones towards the periphery.
Characteristically, a circle is a closed figure complete within itself. That’s how we picture the relationships in our lives: Clear, complete and coherent. That’s seldom the case though! A relationship between two individuals is always tricky. The reason being, there are two minds involved. No two people are alike.
They have their own attitudes, perceptions and belief systems. They are bound to develop a difference of opinion over time leading to conflicts. I call them “disconnects”. For whatever reasons, “disconnects” are a part of every relationship.
So, whenever there is a disconnect between you and someone, your relationship circle vis a vis that person breaks open. This causes discomfort and a deep sense of discontent. The intensity of this vexation depends upon how important that particular relationship is for you. Along the same lines, greater the number of incomplete circles in our lives, higher are the chances on a half-done life.
I met a lady in one of my workshops. Let’s call her “ANGEL”. She was one of the sweetest person I have met so far. Loving caring and always there for others. I saw her going out of her way to please everyone. It seemed to be working for her! People adored her. I observed her deeply and found something very interesting about her.
I realised that going out of her way for people was “her” need and she did that even when people didn’t need her to do so.It was her need to feel wanted that prompted this behaviour and there were moments when she was taken for granted.
Now Angel was a pretty face and sharp features. She was the classic case of the chubby “best-friend”. Guys never gaped at her. She was not a threat or an object of envious notice. Boys didn’t fancy her as a girlfriend and falling in love was not even an option. She had accepted her fate and saw an “arranged marriage” as her best bet to find a partner/love.
During the course of my workshop, I expressed my observation about the girl and got into a broad discussion with her. After the initial discomfort, she opened up and acknowledged my observation. She said that deep inside, she felt unwanted. Her heart ached for love and acceptance. We discussed her issue deeply and slowly I started peeling back layer after layer of her personality to spot the source of this feeling.
The deliberation traced back to when she was a small kid around 8-10 years of age. At that tender age she idolized her father, he was her hero. One day, she decided to surprise him with a painting and spent the whole day making one. When her father got back from work, she bolted towards him while still gripping the painting. The little eager girl jumped all over him, trying to show him the painting. But the exhausted father got annoyed and gave the painting a fleeting glance before he put it aside. She was heartbroken. That was the first time she felt unwanted by someone she loved the most. Somehow, this incident instilled in her mind that her father didn’t like her. Poor kid’s circle with her father opened up and she didn’t know what to do about it. Thereon many such small incidences followed, that reinforced her belief. She started doing more and bending over backwards to feel wanted and this behaviour reflected upon other relationships in her life as well. It became her personality. Not that she turned out to be an unhappy person but she was definitely not what she wanted to be.
That one incident was what she could remember clearly. She finally realised that she had an open circle with her father. She knew that he really loves her, but expressing feelings was not his playground and whatever had happened was unintentional. She felt better.
On this note all her colleagues started hugging her and congratulating her for exhibiting courage to discuss something so personal. She felt her circle with her father was closed and she said she felt complete. To this I said “Bullshit, your circle is not complete. You have only realised that it’s open and with whom. Closing it is the latter part of the movie and is usually the tough part”.
Many of us know which circle is open in our lives. It’s usually the second part where we screw up. The big question is How do we close it? The answer is simple by following the three steps
First and foremost, DIRECTLY go and talk to the person with whom your circle is open. We humans have a tendency to discuss our problem with everyone except the person causing the problem. It Doesn’t help! Only builds pseudo relationships.
Be HONEST about your feelings. Tell the person what you honestly feel due to the disconnect. Words like sorry, helpless, sad, disappointed, empty are of great help.
Please note that the focus is on what “you” feel and not on what that person has done.
Don’t make it a platform for giving feedback on someone else’s behaviour and start blaming him/her for having hurt you, troubled you or left you. We humans have a tendency to blame others for everything that has happened to us. We must believe that everything in our relationships happens because of us. Only on this premise, one can close his/her circles. So be honest and talk about your feelings and not the other persons actions and intentions. Please note that it’s your circle that is open and that need not be the case with the other party.
Finally, be OPEN When you share your feelings/perspectives with someone, be open enough to hear their side of the story. This openness will surprise you.
Three simple steps and all your circles will be closed. I said simple steps, didn’t say it’s easy. They are anything but easy. There is a reason why people around us are moving with open circles and are unhappy. People find it easier to live an incomplete life, rather than taking a shot at closing the circles. At the same time, there are people who take the other path and live liberated. They believe that in every relationship there will be disconnects, but they waste no time in resolving them. They keep their circles closed. When you are in the company of such individuals, you experience the difference yourself. You start to believe in life.
Coming back to angel’s story. I told her that her circle is not closed and it was time for action. While the workshop was still on, I asked her to call to her father and tell him everything that she told me. I asked her to focus only on her feelings and not her father’s actions. She was a little hesitant, but agreed to make the call and said that she will be right back. She came back, but after 2 hours! I saw her walking towards me. Eyes bright and a smile that stretched from ear to ear. To me she already looked slimmer. She looked beautiful. Upon asking, she said that her father cried for two hours. He apologised for unintentionally hurting her and said that he really loved her. There now! Her circle was complete and she was happy.
Two years down the line I got a message from her. She said she was getting married to a great guy.
It was a LOVE MARRIAGE!