Know when to give others space and when to give them pace
If someone intrudes into our personal physical space by coming too close to us, we feel uncomfortable. We similarly feel uncomfortable when someone intrudes into our personal psychological space by mandating what we should do or shouldn’t do, how we should or shouldn’t feel and so forth. In such cases, we may say, “Give me some space.”
Whenever we guide anyone, we need to be mindful if they feel that we are intruding into their psychological space. We might have the best of intentions, wanting to protect them from bad choices. But if they feel suffocated by our guidance, they may just go away from us and then make those bad choices. Thus, our guidance will fail doubly: it won’t prevent their bad choices and it won’t protect our relationship with them. That’s why we need to learn when to give people space.
While giving others space, we need to avoid the other extreme of never giving others pace, that is, never pushing them to overcome their inertia to do the things that are good for them. If not pushed, they may never realize their potential. They can be pushed by an encouraging pat, a raised eyebrow, a motivational talk, a chastising word.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.26) harmonizes the two imperatives: it urges us to not disturb people’s minds, indicating the need to give them space; but it also urges us to engage them appropriately for their gradual elevation, indicating the need to give them pace. Thus, by carefully observing the effect of our action or inaction on others, we can discern when to give others space and when to give them pace.
Think it over:
- How can not giving people space be a problem?
- How can not giving people pace be a problem?
- How can we know when to give others space or pace?
03.26 So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the gradual development of Krishna consciousness].
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