The Genesis

After having read the Bhagavad-Gita several times, one day it just came to me.
Every so often we are called upon to embark upon a journey, undertake a mission or an endeavor that promises to test our very core. Sometimes we are prepared and at other times we aren’t. Regardless, many of us at that penultimate moment, balk and falter. At such times we need a catalyst and such catalysts oftentimes come in the form of people, books and life changing events. 

Certain tools and techniques are used in dealing with people facing dilemmas and one of them is "near linguistic programming".

This series of articles demonstrates how Krishna used NLP - Neuro Linguistic Programming to get Arjuna to stay on mission.

Life Changing Events

You’re in love, you’re about to be married. Yet, as the day approaches you find yourself questioning if you’re taking the right decision. Everything seems right, yet….. 
In the Indian context, we make such a hullabaloo about race, caste and social compatibility and we hamstring our kids into making choices that are suitable for us and not for themselves.
More often than not, we are faced with situations where we are compelled to make a single choice from amongst various options and each option seems to be the right one.
There is this kid. He’s just got this degree and is now embarking on adult life in earnest. At this point he or she has multiple options to choose from and each choice he or she makes will lead to a very different career path and that in turn may have an impact on life itself. Can you imagine what kind of mental turmoil that kid must surely face?
Some kids find their passion in careers that are not mainstream. Don’t parents generally discourage them from making such decisions? They usually go, “Oh! The career you are choosing doesn’t offer a regular income. How will you manage? Look at Mrs. X’s daughter, she’s a Corporate Lawyer and is making loads of money. Why don’t you take up Corporate Law instead of becoming a photographer!”. What is the message we’re sending here? Conform. Do what others are doing. Aren’t we discouraging individuality? Aren’t we creating further confusion, at a time when they’re already confused about their future?
You have a well paying job, but it’s time to seek a change. Yet, when it’s time to submit your resignation or have that difficult conversation with your boss, you get this thought. Am I making the right decision?
Ever encountered a situation where you’re about to write an exam and your mind goes blank, or then you’re not able to give it your all?
I’m sure the examples cited above are representative of what many of us have faced.

Fear of The Unknown

The fear, consequences and outcome of those important decisions, are at that point in time unknown commodities. Therefore we end up second guessing. We find a myriad of reasons not to act, or then take what appears to be the easy way out.

Now let me tell this to you for free, there is no such thing as the easy way out!!! The best way “out” is “through”.

I mentioned fear. It either acts as an impetus to act or a deterrent. The same goes for our minds. Overcoming our fears calls for rational thought and rational thought jumps out the window when we need it the most.

We fear failure and disappointing people close to us. This tends to make us take decisions that are not conducive to our well being. This even causes us not to act or make decisions.

These are times we need to lean on someone.

Sources, Association & Time

I was asked a few days ago. “What if we don’t have someone to lean on?”. This is where association with the right kind of people becomes so important. When I say lean on someone, I don’t necessarily mean a crutch in the form of a person. An extrapolation of “Lean On” is consciously associating with persons who are more in control that we are with a view to imbibe and learn from how they conduct themselves. 
History and scripture provide anecdotes and narratives and there we have this fund of knowledge, about people, their experience and their words, verbal or written.
What works for others may not necessarily work for us. Their circumstances and their capabilities will usually be different from ours. Therefore, abstracting what we have observed, what we have heard, what we have read and what we are told, plays an important part in the process.

This is where what you do with your spare time becomes so important.

So many of us just like to “chill” in our spare time. “Chilling” is great and even essential, but remember, we have but 24 hours a day. I’d advocate that we work backwards from the hours we have available in the day and figure out what we do with our time. More often than not, we find that we spend far too much time “chilling”. We spend little time equipping ourselves with the knowledge and techniques that are so important to assist us when we are faced with the curve balls that life throws us.

Battles In The Mind

The battles in our minds tend to be far more difficult than real battles. Our minds perceive obstacles, some real and some imagined. Even when coping or overcoming real obstacles, we tend to create a mountain out of a molehill. The mind finds seemingly plausible (easily acceptable) reasons (read excuses) to thwart the endeavor.

We get nervous, we break into a cold sweat, we encounter palpitations, run to the bathroom, get the shivers and nervous twitches. These are external manifestations reflecting our state of mind.

In varying degrees and under different circumstances we all experience this.

Is it fear? Are we lass than adequately prepared? Is it that we lack the appropriate guidance? What drives this indecisiveness? What drives this self doubt?

An Illustration from the Bhagavad-Gita

If I’m permitted, I’d like to delve into Indian history eons past and speak about what has inspired me the most and helped me through many situations.
The Bhagavad-Gita is essentially dialogue/narrative between Arjuna and Krishna, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It never fails to set things in perspective and provide motivation to take on real life issues. 
The way Krishna handles a vacillating (unable to decide) Arjuna is inspirational and is something I try to imbibe on a daily basis.

What Does Krishna do?

I will just mention briefly now, that Krishna is a master of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming and NLP is what he used to deal with Arjuna. More on that a little later, but for now I prefer to provide background to illustrate Krishna’s actions. Before I talk about NLP, I may be permitted to provide the back stories that led to the situation at hand.

The cognoscenti (people who are fimiliar with the back stories) may indulge me while I provide the backstory and set the scene for those who are unaware. The cognoscenti can take a coffee break.

The Backstory – Setting Context

There are two great clans, the Pandavas and Kauravas. They are locked in a bitter feud to decide succession/right to rule, the seeds of which have been sown by their forefathers. This feud is inherited by the next generation.

The Pandava clan comprises five illustrious brothers, the sons of the dead Maharaj Pandu and the Kauravas comprise the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, a blind King who is in reality merely a steward, He is duty bound to hand over the Kingdom to the sons of the dead King when they come of age.

The sons of Maharaja Pandu have now come of age and the steward is disinclined to hand over the reigns to the rightful inheritors and instead chooses a path not aligned to dharma or duty.

The Pandavas are thus in a dilemma. They choose to compromise with a view to avoid a massive conflict, they are willing to give up their right and request that just a few villages be handed over to them to set up their Kingdom.

Even this meager request is denied.

Advise from Elders

Advisors, counselors and well-wishers alike, advocate that the Pandavas fight for their rightful inheritance. The Pandavas relent, leading to clear battle lines being drawn.

There is intrigue within intrigue, stories embedded in stories. Friends, immediate relatives, distant relatives, sons, teachers, kinsmen are all compelled to take sides. Favors and obligations are called in and promises made, as each side seeks to gather more numbers and prowess to prevail in battle. Some are great politicians, others great strategists. The warriors? Some wield maces, others are great swordsmen. Some have the power of mantras (chants) that can cause metaphysical changes to thwart the enemy.

All are in the midst of this epic fight! A fight to the death! There is no turning back!

Harsh Decisions

Taking harsh decisions isn’t like a walk in the park!

All except the seasoned players (sometimes even they) face dilemmas when our impending actions will create profound impact.

Strangely, even when the right reasons justify harsh steps, our “conscience” doesn’t lend the requisite support. Conscience is to be our inner voice, but is largely suspect, because at trying times this inner voice speaks in a compromised tone.

Decisions Change Trajectory

When decisions we make or actions we take adversely impact people’s lives, we feel responsible. We wonder what will happen once we’ve fired the proverbial bullet.

Bullets real or any other kind (harsh words can be construed as bullets) kill or at the very least cause injury. Words either motivate or cause mental anguish.

Imagine, if you will, you are in a key position and need to terminate an employee for pragmatic business reasons, or due to poor performance. Even as leaders we balk at the prospect. Such tasks are usually carried out with a degree of reluctance and even once executed, we lose sleep over such actions.

About Timing, Words, Tone, Place, Circumstances

Timing, I believe, is everything, as are the choice of words, the tone in which we communicate, the gestures we use, the body language, facial expressions and the circumstances under which we communicate. All play such an important part in delivering messages as the situation demands. In certain situations not saying anything can also convey strong messages. Words can be used to convey positives and negatives. They can encourage or deter.

Communication is an art, if used well, can resolve almost any tricky situation. I always say, it is a simple matter of winning minds and hearts.

In Part 2 of this series, we take a deeper look at Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Feel free to write to me on: Sumir@sumirnagar.com