Some time ago, we all went out for lunch. My little one decided to wear her flip flops. I told her that we were going somewhere nice, inviting her to reconsider if she would like to wear a better-looking pair of shoes. She shook her head, very certain of her decision. My partner turned to her and asked her why and she explained that it was just more comfortable. I can understand that. My partner laughed and said, “ok, if you insist”. Wisely, she replied to my partner, “yes dada, I cannot insist on you, I can only insist on me” which I thought was very profound, coming from a kiddo her age.
What she meant was that it was impossible to insist on a change on other people, and that the only possible person to insist a change or not, was herself. She knew what she wanted, and she kept to it and it would have been impossible for us to change her mind, unless she wanted to. I remember several times when I attempted to playfully manipulate her to choose to see a different TV programme or to buy something else, she would always tell me, “mom, I haven’t changed my mind. When I change my mind, I will let you know.” And I can’t help but marvel at her level of wisdom.
This kind of response can only come from a clear mind, or knowing what it is that she wants. If she was unsure of what she wanted, it would only be because she is confused on whether she should go for what she wants, or go for something that she thinks I want. So far, I have failed miserably in trying to ‘influence’ or ‘convince’ her to do anything my way, save for things that we agree on. I truly admire her ability to say ‘no’ even to her mommi.
It is obvious that if I am trying to manipulate or influence someone, I would be coming from a space when I am scheming to get something that I want from this person; and if this person is unconscious or unaware of his or her choice, at the same time seeking for my approval or love, it is likely that he or she will listen to me, or be ‘influenced’ by me by doing exactly what I insist on him or her to do. The thing is, if this person is very sure and clear of him or herself, it is highly unlikely that these patterns will surface as he or she already knows what she wants. It takes integrity and lots of courage in order to say ‘no’ especially to someone who is dear to us.
People tell me that it is possible to influence or to be influenced by others. In my experience, it is not and of course there are many several conditionings to it. Nothing is ingrained as a clear mind can also be an open mind. A gentle invitation encouraging another to another point of view or some wider options so to speak can also lead to a change of mind although ultimately the decision hence responsibility lies with the one who chooses to change his or her mind or not. I have come to see that mind is inclined to learn when it is specifically moulded towards a certain direction and it tends to pick up what is relevant to its growth towards the same and once it is clear, it is hardly ever possible to attempt to ‘influence’ or ‘convince’ or ‘manipulate’ another. So, I’d say that these words are pretty violent by nature.
Yet, does that mean that we don’t speak at all? Well, that is what communication is all about and aren’t we thankful that we can choose to ‘share’ and ‘convey’ rather than ‘influence’, ‘convince’ or ‘manipulate’ another as the latter comes from the space of attack which may bring about a defence from another, or an even detrimental effect, which is the other person becomes more unclear than he or she potentially already is. It is important to allow others to make decisions for themselves and thus, also take responsibility for it. In this sense, we do not overextend ourselves and allow others to grow steadily in their own space and pace.
I imagined how it would have turned out to be if we had insisted and forced my little one to change into a pair of shoes that she did not want to wear. My guess is it would have been war before lunch, or an unhappy little one obliging to the pleasures of her parents so that her parents could look good. Thank God she has got integrity and a clear head!!