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Freedom is a Priceless Gift, So is Personal Space

There are some little things in life that we can change. My parents, from their conduct, taught me this. I want to share it here because I see the lack of it affecting the sanctity of relationships across families and friendships.

Give Personal Space, Don't Give Advice

Lets face it. We are educated, grown ups and we don't need people telling us how to do things. We have a fairly good idea of how to manage our private spaces and there are people who can step in to help us when things go wrong or when we ask them for their advice. Too many relationships are spoiled by imposing one's own perceptions on others, whether it is in family, friendships or even at work places. The simplest and most effective solution is to give each person his/her personal space, respect that space and don't give advice unless it is requested. Sometimes, your intuition can tell you to break that rule but giving inputs all the time and giving advice all the time are two different things that require a delicate balance.

The best way to test if your advice is likely to be appreciated is to weigh the following factors:

1. The depth of your emotional closeness and proximity with the person you want to give advice to.

2. The urgency of the situation that requires such advice.

3. The probable 'value add' that can make your advice invaluable to the recipient's quality of life and to your own relationship with the recipient too.

I've never given advice to anybody for two simple reasons. One, I am not qualified to advice people about how they should lead their lives when I know very little about who they are or what their real feelings and lives are like. Two, I don't accept anybody's advice except that of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba whom I revere as my God and I don't give advice to anybody. That is my policy.

I must confess here, that while my parents have influenced me the most, they have never imposed their wishes or beliefs on me. They have always given me absolute freedom to decide what I want from my life. Yes, they have approved of somethings and disapproved of other things but my father always taught me one important thing,
"Always make your decisions by asking God and yourself if this is the right thing to do. Never let anything else deter you, especially your ego. If there is a conflict between what God says and what your conscience says, listen to the conscience. That is your inner charioteer, that is the voice of God speaking to you. " And he said, "If you disagree with this, you have the freedom to say so too."

I respect and believe in all religions but I don't let religion dictate every minute aspect of my life as if it were a lifetime punishment. Suppose the Bible, the Gita or the Koran say, "don't do X, Y and Z", the important thing is to ask your conscience what is right for you in your unique or peculiar set of circumstances. It has always worked for me to listen to my inner conscience but it differs from one person to the others.

This freedom that my father gave me helped me to be more responsible towards my own growth in a positive way. That is exactly the gift I will pass to my son.
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