The Art Of Stepping In And Stepping Out In Relationships

For any activity, or relationship to remain peaceful and successful, we must know how far to step in and how far to step out. It is like a gardener who sows seeds at the right time, steps in to plant and water them and then steps out of the picture to allow nature to carry on with her work. However, from time to time, he steps in again to see if there is enough water, if any insects are attacking the plants, if any food is needed. His role is to find the appropriate space for the potential beauty and uniqueness of the seeds to emerge; he does not create the flowers but facilitates their expression. The gardener does not step in too much; that would be called interference. After planting the seeds, he does not demand an immediate result; he does not dig them up next day to see if they have sprouted. He plays his role, fulfills his duty, but lets go because he understands the blooming of the flowers is not dependent on him. Nor does he let go too much. If he did, then the plants would die from lack of care, or the insects and weeds would destroy them. He does not let go so much that he isolates himself from the process. Instead, by knowing when to step in and when to step out, he creates a respectful partnership or relationship with nature.

In the same way as the gardener (referring to yesterday’s message), we have the duty, or rather the honor, of planting positive seeds of good intentions, love, respect and tolerance, at the same time allowing others and the forces of the universe to be given the space to work and respond according to their time and inclination. Very often we plant those seeds but want an immediate result: * I have shown so much patience, but he doesn’t change or * How much longer do I have to tolerate? I feel suppressed. We become attached to what we do, so there is no space for things to happen at their own appropriate time.  Sometimes we have the wrong type of mercy, or we want to take control, thinking we know better, so we step into people’s lives too much. This interference and lack of free space provokes hatred, resentment and conflict with others.

At other times, we get fed up with others; our tolerance and empathy is completely reduced and we say, * I’ve had enough, or * I have got to do my own thing and so we step out, but in a selfish way, that is, we isolate ourselves from others, or situations. We justify, or disguise, this isolation and rejection and dislike towards others with such phrases as, * I need my own space or * Let them stand on their own feet. In actual fact, we aren’t bothered anymore; we have stepped too far out of the picture because we have not cultivated the patience which allows the good and positive to germinate and grow in its own time. It is an art to know when to step back and when to step forward, but a very necessary one if well-being is to be achieved.

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