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Being Yourself: Are You a Saint or a Scorpion?

Being Yourself: Are You a Saint or a Scorpion?


    Once upon a time, on his way to the Himalayas, was a saint, a wandering ascetic. He came across a shallow river he had to cross. Just when he was about to wet his feet, he saw a scorpion helplessly treading the water, trying to come out of the river. It was almost touching the bank but not enough to gain hold of the ground. The sage saw scorpion’s struggle and decided to save it.

    He picked up the scorpion in his right palm with the intention to place it on the dry surface. No sooner did he do that than the scorpion stung and rushed off the palm in frenzy, landing in the water again. It resumed its struggle to come out of water. The sage caressed his ailing right hand with his left. His body was in pain but his mind, calm.

    Seeing that the scorpion could lose its life, the sage used left hand this time to lift the scorpion out of water. However, it panicked and stung again. Once again, it sped off the hand and fell in water resuming its struggle to come out. The saint was left with both hands singed with excruciating pain. He was not the one to give up either.

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    He tried again. This time, he cupped his hands together and lifted the scorpion in one swift movement. Before it could react, he safely dropped it on the land. The scorpion disappeared into the pebbles that lay near the bank. The sage felt elated, for, he succeeded in carrying out his resolve, for saving another life, in holding his forte. It was worth the pain he thought.

    At a distance, oblivious to the saint, a man, surprised and shocked, had watched the whole episode. He promptly approached the sage and said, “Pray, can I ask you a question please?”

    “Yes, you may.”

    “First of all, there was no need to save a scorpion. It does no good to anybody. Secondly, if must you save him out of compassion, you could have simply tried once. I’m surprised that even after it stung you so ungratefully, you persisted with your efforts. Why? How come you did not just stomp on it after it stung you?”

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    “Oh! That’s pretty simple,” the sage replied softly rubbing his stung hands against each other. “This was a scorpion, someone really low on the food chain, a creature whose nature is to sting, to panic, to harm. It is known for not exhibiting any compassion. It is supposed to be weak. Whereas, I am supposed to be a saint, a person whose job is to love everybody, to only offer unconditional love and compassion. I am supposed to be the strong one, the one higher up on the food chain. With my principles and lifestyle, my philosophy and practice, my elevated emotional and mental state, I am supposed to cleanse and transform the other individual. Right?”

    The man nodded.

    “Well then, a creature as lowly and weak as a scorpion does not change its basic nature, its traits, reactions in the presence of a holy man. Should I, the one who’s supposed to be a saint, let go off my righteous conduct, my demeanor in the presence of a scorpion? Am I now so weak to allow a measly creature change me, throw me off my principles and virtues? It did what it is designed for and I did what I’m designed for. It retained its behavior, and I, mine.”

    The man prostrated at the feet of the sage and expressed his gratitude for the profound wisdom.

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    Living in this world, disagreements are normal, in fact, natural. You will meet people ranging from scorpions to saints, thankful to thankless, from weak to wild, and so forth. If they are able to provoke you, put you off, throw you off balance, they are stronger than you. When in any conflict, if you retain your goodness, you will emerge a winner. If you stoop down to their level, treating them the way they treated you, that invariably means they have won, that means you have become like them. Rarely worth it, if you ask me.

    It is often not possible for a person to be one or the other at all times. Sometimes circumstances force you to sting like a scorpion, perhaps you may even repent later on; forgive yourself. A lot more important is to make a serious attempt to act like a saint. Whether you are a sage or a scorpion, it is a matter of choice, an independent choice. You have the option to retain your individuality. Strength comes naturally from such stance.

    So, if you are willing, write in the comments below, whether you are:

    • (a) a sage;
    • (b) a scorpion;
    • (c) or you can be either depending on the situation.

    If you wish to be a sage under all circumstances, you can. It requires mindfulness and a conscious effort. Nothing will ever bother you thereafter.

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    Peace.

    (Photo credit: Man With Devil and angel on Shoulders via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

      Boundaries are limits

      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
      • When do you feel disrespected?
      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
      • When do you want to be alone?
      • How much space do you need?

      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

      Sample language:

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      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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      Final Thoughts

      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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