RECIPROCATION

QUESTION:

If I can do a particular thing for my parents, why is it that they can’t do the same for me? I stand by them when they are hurt, BUT they do not stand by me when I am hurt.

ANSWER:

Your situation presents a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection and growth. Growth is painful, and not easy to do. Most people avoid pain, and seek pleasure. So if you are willing to take this step to look at your wounded place, as the poet Rumi says, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” If you can find the courage to look at what you are doing and thinking that is hurting you, these self-introspection efforts can provide you with some clarity and relief. Ask yourself if there is some reason why your parents are not supporting you when you are hurt? It would be helpful to find out why your parents do not reciprocate. They must have some expectation from you which you have not fulfilled or are not fulfilling. Instead of looking at the situation about what they are doing to hurt you, try to figure out what you are doing that might be hurting them and also what you are thinking that might be hurting yourself. Sometimes when we are blinded by our own pain, feeling rejected, hurt, and isolated, we do not realize that we are also inflicting pain on those we love. We also do not realize that it is actually our own thoughts and feelings about a situation that causes the emotional hurt, not the situation itself.

Also, it is natural that you want to feel the love of your parents standing by you when you feel hurt. It must feel very lonely and painful when they are not there for you. Especially since you have been such a good daughter to them, by supporting them when they are feeling hurt. It only makes sense that you expect them to reciprocate. However, true love is of a different nature. We never really were taught about true love in school, or by our parents. If there were such a school, called, “The True Love Institute,” here are some of the lessons it would impart. True love does not keep count, and has no expectations. In true love, you just love for its own sake. Just like how the rose gives out its fragrance for free to any passerby. Even if someone rips its petals, ignores it, or spits on it, still, the rose pumps out its beautiful aroma for all to enjoy. It does not expect anything in return. In this kind of love, there is no doubt, fear, hurt or anxiety. The rose feels immensely happy just by giving, not by receiving. And so it is in true love that your greatest pleasure is when the other is pleased. Not when they please you.

One way to think about your situation is that as their daughter, it is your duty to be kind, loving and respectful to your parents. Just as Krishna instructs Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, to perform his duties and do not be attached to the result. Whether your parents appreciate you, criticize you, or don’t reciprocate, no matter the case, you just perform your duties and remain stable in your mind. You can practice being like the beautiful rose, giving your love freely to your parents, and not expecting anything in return. Your parents are giving you a special opportunity to practice the art of true love. It is up to you if you would like to embrace it.

PRACTICAL EXERCISE:

  1. Write down one way that your parents have hurt you by not supporting you. Be very specific in what they said or did.
  1. Write down what you wanted your parents to do? If you could wave your magic wand and they would have said or done the perfect thing to support you when you were feeling hurt, what would that have been?
  1. Compare between what they did and what you wanted them to do. Notice the difference between your expectations and the reality. Use your buddhi (intelligence) to tell yourself that you cannot change others, and that the reality is what it is. What they do is what they will do. You cannot change them. You can only change how you perceive their actions. You can tell yourself something positive about what they said or did, or you can tell yourself something negative. Choose to tell yourself something positive. Write a positive statement to restructure your thoughts that will make you feel peaceful about what your parents said or did. For example, “I know that my parents love me. Even though they are not able to support me when I am feeling hurt, this does not mean that they do not love me.”
  1. Write a new expectation for your parents, based on what you have learned by studying their past behaviors. Also write how you will respond. For example, “Going forward, I expect that my parents will not support me in the way that I am looking to be supported when I feel hurt. However, I will not let this disturb my peace of mind. I will not act surprised and hurt when they go on acting in this manner, as now I expect this. I will continue to do my duty as a daughter, loving them with no expectations for something in return.”
  1. Introspect and try to make a list of ideas on why your parents do not support you when you are feeling hurt. Why would people who love you, not support you? There must be some reason. Is there something they are expecting of you, that you are not fulfilling? Try to put yourself in their shoes completely. Write down your list of different theories as to why they are not supportive of you.
  1. Try to change your thoughts based on your ability to empathize with their situation. Tell yourself something different that will make you feel peaceful. For example, “I can choose to change my behaviors to fulfill my parents expectations, so I can please them. I also can choose to change my thoughts to remain peaceful when they do not support me. But, either way, I will work to remain peaceful in my mind, no matter how they treat me.”

 

If you have a question about a personal or relationship issue, and you would like Babaji and Joshika’s Vedic Psychology response in this Q&A section, please email your question to Joshika at joshika@jiva.org.