The Bhagavad Gita offers important lessons on facing challenging situations successfully. In the Gita, God did not teach Arjuna how to deal with his enemies on the battlefield. He was taught to manage his state of mind and become detached in order to be victorious.
This lesson holds true in real life. When faced with tough situations, we start thinking how we can manage others, change them, or turn the situation to our advantage. Instead, we can focus on our state of mind and how we look at and deal with the situation and other people. Just as the eye of a storm is calm while violent winds rage all around, being centred helps us to remain quiet and take sensible decisions in difficult situations.
To navigate such situations successfully, we need to manage external pressures as well as our inner tendencies, which may sometimes take us on the wrong track if we are careless. For example, pressures might make us irritable, resentful or angry, and this will impair our ability to think and act pragmatically.
The task of self-management is helped by our innate qualities or values, which are intrinsic to every human soul. These values include purity, peace, love, and strength. When we consciously remind ourselves of these values and employ them in daily life, they develop and begin to shape our thoughts, feelings and actions.
In any situation, we can check what is the value needed to deal with it. Today, a large number of people feel insecure because of economic and political uncertainties. The remedy is to develop self-confidence and courage—‘I can deal with this’. In the absence of these two qualities, we may sink deeper into fear and nervousness, which will make us prone to making more mistakes, leading to further sorrow.
Hopelessness and despair also afflict many people now. They can be overcome if we recognise our strengths and specialities. We come to realise that we do have inner resources that make us valuable and which can be used to add meaning to our life. The resulting boost to our sense of self-worth changes our perspective and we begin to see opportunities—to serve, and grow—that were invisible earlier.
External pressures cause negative feelings and harmful tendencies to grow. So, dealing with these pressures is vital. One of the most common pressures is that of work. A heavy workload can dispirit anyone, but that only makes the load feel heavier and reduces our efficiency. The solution is to prioritise work, make a timetable and stick to it to accomplish tasks in an organised manner. Discipline plays a key role in this. If our mind is in order and we create the right thoughts at the right time and to the extent needed, our life will also be in order. It is when things get disturbed inside that disorder follows outside.
Similarly, most people face relationship issues at some point in their life. Running away from relationships is not the solution, as God tells Arjuna in the Gita. Cultivating love, patience, and tolerance helps us empathise with others and accommodate them.
Financial problems call for careful planning of our expenditure and savings, while health issues may require us to change our food habits and lifestyle.
Stress and conflict also arise from mixing the various roles we play in life. I may be the boss at the workplace, but if I boss people around at home, it will be resented. On the other hand, if I lounge about at work as if I am at home, I may soon find myself out of work.
In every case, managing our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and not blaming or trying to control others, is the key to successfully facing life’s challenges.
B.K. Usha is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan.