I have tried to live by example and inspire others, inclusive of immediate family members. They might have gotten somewhat inspired, at times, but the flip side is that they absolutely drain me. I am running on a very low fuel. I can no longer continue to worry about them. I need to save myself from falling. Yet, if I stop “worrying” about them, they will most like stop with religious observance and that will bring me down, for I am outnumbered with absolutely no support. so I am in a lose-lose situation.
Welcome to our first Ask Your Question podcast where you can ask me your questions and I’ll answer them on the podcast. Just go to BeginningWithin.com/podcast where you can submit your question in writing or as a voice message.
Here is this week’s question:
I have tried to live by example and influence others, inclusive of immediate family members. They might have gotten somewhat inspired at times but the flip side is that they absolutely drain me. I am running on very very low fuel. I can no longer continue to worry about them. I need to save myself from falling. Yet, if I stop worrying about them, they will most likely stop with religious observance and that will bring me down for I am out numbered with absolutely no support. I am in a lose‑lose situation.
Okay. So here is what I would tell you, and I want to focus on a few points here, a few fundamental concepts. And I’m sure there’s much more to the situation than I’m aware of but from what you shared, here is what I would tell you. Number one, you must be clear that you must put on your oxygen mask first. We have to always know that if we are running low on fuel, we can do nothing for others. So we must take care of ourselves. And here is what we need to remember about taking care of ourselves: When we take care of ourselves to rejuvenate and refuel, we are not doing something selfish, we are actually doing something selfless. The definition of selfish is when I’m doing things for me which are about me. But when I’m doing things for me which are about my family or my friends, that’s selfless. So you need to put on your own oxygen mask first and remember that by doing so you are actually being selfless. That’s Number one.
Number two is, when we take responsibility for the failures or the wrongs which are out of our control, we begin destroying ourselves because it’s out of our control so I cannot take responsibility for your failures. I can not take responsibility for your wrongs. Even if you may be my relative and I feel like I should or could have some influence on you if I’m doing my best to exert that influence and yet my relative or my friend still does that wrong thing, they are responsible, not me. When I carry responsibility for everything everyone is doing around me, I crush myself. We cannot do that. And this is actually the art of Beginning Within, to learn the art of not being the effect of the circumstances and people around us. Because when we let the circumstances and people around us determine our well-being, we will always be out of control. Because we are not in control, we’re letting everything else determine that. We take responsibility for what is ours and we do everything possible to influence everything beyond that.
The next point I want to make is that we must do our best to have influence but we need to understand how influence works. The best influence is always indirect. That means that we don’t go to the other person and tell them, you need to change this. Because then we are not influencing, we are actually trying to fix. The way to create influence is by being a genuine, authentic example of what it is that we want to see in others. That means that when the other person looks at me, they see me living my life this way in a pure state, not in a way that I’m doing it so that they will do it, but I’m doing it because I simply believe in it. I learned this, for example, when different people who speak would tell me sometimes that they once gave a speech ‑‑ I have many colleagues who are rabbis and they tell me they once gave a speech and they were hoping a certain member of their community would listen because they had this issue and the person who has the issue is never the one who gets the message. And there’s something I actually learned from this and that is that when we speak if we really want to have an influence on the people listening, we can’t be speaking to them, we need to be speaking to ourselves. When we can find that issue in some way in ourselves and we discuss it as a point of how I struggle with this, how I work on this to change it because I know this is the right way, that’s when other people can hear it, when they see us working on it within ourselves. And that’s a hard thing to do, especially when people are close to us or they are relatives. Sometimes we want to go straight over to them and say, you shouldn’t be doing this. But often, especially when people are adults, that is the wrong approach. That is what I like to refer to as trying to exert power, where we’re trying to impose change on others. And change always happens slowly, and it happens through influence, not through power. And influence is best done when we are the example of what it is we want to see in another person.
And the last point I want to make is there’s a difference between our children, our young children and then teenagers and adults. We have a responsibility to our young children because they are still immature and we need to actually use discipline. And when I say discipline, I mean that we have to create boundaries for them because sometimes they might not even realize how dangerous, whether it’s physical danger or emotional danger or whatever it may be that certain things that they will do are. So we need to actually exert. We do need to use a certain element of power. Again, I don’t mean physical power but I mean the power of imposing on them. However, we need to realize that there is a scale. And as our children are getting older, we need to be sliding on the scale from, we’ll say, control and power, towards influence. And so imagine there’s a scale where you have control on one end and influence on the other. We must be moving, as our children are getting older, from control to influence. We always want to use influence instead of control but there are going to be circumstances, especially when our children are younger, where control is very important. That is not going to be effective as they get older and older and so we need to continuously develop more and more influence. And that influence comes from being the example. And the question here actually begins by saying, I have tried to live by example. Well, guess what, that’s fantastic because that is the best thing you can do. The results are not in your hands. What is expected of you is one thing, to do your best, live by example. And if you’re doing that, don’t take responsibility for results. Because results are God’s department or, in this case, the other person’s department.
So I wish you tremendous luck. It’s not easy to implement these points overnight. But if you think about them, with time, you will see a shift in the right direction. I wish you all the power to experience that.
Thanks for your question and I look forward to more questions. Go to BeginningWithin.com/podcast and send them in.