For a long while I grappled with certain concepts that seem to contradict one another—or so I thought. And then I slowly realize—they are not contradictory but just two sides of the same coin. Like everything else, the twin perspectives seem to form the complete whole. The other half of the puzzle.
It would be nice to have many of the quotes we read have a ‘BUT’ addendum written in the subtext. Below are some such insights I have gleaned over the years.
1. Be kind, BUT don’t let anyone walk on you.
Don’t let ‘kindness’ be a reason to not say anything and not have a voice when required. It could still be a kind voice.
2. Forgive and forget, BUT do move on from the person/situation if required.
You don’t have to remain stuck there. Don’t forget the lesson though. Learn. That’s what will make you wiser and stronger if you choose so.
3. Be courageous and bold, BUT try to be compassionate alongside it. Let not ‘courage’ and ‘boldness’ be a reason to use brute force or aggression.
As Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
4. Help others, BUT help yourself first.
Not from a “being selfish” perspective, but more from the perspective of wearing your own oxygen mask before helping someone else wear his or hers. We would be able to do a much better job of helping the other and giving from this standpoint.
5. Be kind and loving, BUT also learn to keep negativity and maliciousness out of your life.
In the name of kindness don’t keep holding on to negativity in your life. You need to be kind to yourself too and sometimes just let other people walk their own path. Set yourself free.
6. Be vulnerable, BUT also have strong boundaries.
This is especially true in relationships. Vulnerability is very important to have truly fulfilling partnerships but it must be vulnerability, which is supported by love and respect from the other partner as well. Having strong boundaries i.e. knowing what you will accept and allow into your life and what you will not accept and allow into your life is equally important.
7. Love deeply, BUT respect yourself, too.
Very often one sees ‘love’ (or at least what we perceive as love) being the reason to accept disrespectful behavior. Don’t let love be a reason to not respect yourself.
8. Dreams are wonderful, BUT also take action to support your dreams.
“The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.” —Unknown
9. Don’t judge, BUT please do discern.
Yes, there is a difference between the two. Judgment is an external process while discernment is a conscious internal one.
10. Help change the world and make it better BUT first focus on changing yourself and making yourself better.
Sometimes, that’s all the contribution that is required from our end to make the world a tad bit better.
11. Listen to your heart, BUT don’t leave your head behind.
After all, your head could draw up some amazing plans on how to follow the heart.
Maybe some of the seeming dichotomies in life stem from the gap between the PRACTICAL and the IDEAL—the difference between what ideal circumstances are and what practically takes place.
Either way, life can be an interesting journey of growth and learning besides everything else, if we choose so. Assuming, we are all climbing uphill to the top of the mountain, when we are at the bottom of the mountain we see things differently and as we keep gaining height on our climb our perspective and ‘view’ also changes. Choosing an empowering perspective purely because it helps us make the most of our own life is what’s beneficial. We are responsible for our choices. Nobody else is.
As Plato put it, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.” I do believe we are all a work in progress, and my favorite word in here is “progress.” Sure, we all have our own definitions of what progress means to us, and we are entitled to that. I know what my definition is. Do you know yours?