Under the Circumstances

Have you heard people say, “Well Under The Circumstances, what did you expect me to do?!”

The sentence is duly attended by a martyred air as if you ought to go down on your knees in respectful admiration and  abject reverence. Can’t you see that the person was being victimized by malevolent circumstances? How crass and blind!

I suppose I am cold and unfeeling. I’ve never had the organ with which to acquire the sympathy expected by those suffering Under The Circumstances. There have been times, in my early days when I hadn’t yet become a saint, when I’ve tersely advised such people to get out from Under The Circumstances– on their hand and knees if need be. What were they doing, sitting under them? Can’t be any fun, surely?

Life will push you down at times. Sometimes you would jump back up in a trice and sometimes you won’t feel like moving for a while. But to stay down there and give permanence to a transitory event? It would give you a crick in the neck, staying trapped Under The Circumstances thing.

No, that’s not my scene at all.

To me it’s like sitting under the table and saying, “Hey look, I’m under the table!” Of course you are under the table, sunshine! Get out from under it! Don’t you know how silly you look? Or are you expecting the table to oblige you by moving away of its own accord? That’s hardly possible, is it? Moreover, why should it care?

Maybe you are hoping that some kind hand will release you from your captivity? I’m sorry to burst your bubble but hope is not really a strategy in such situations. There’s about a one in a million chance that the table will move away by itself or that someone will help you. By and large, the bulk of humanity has to crawl out from under on its own steam. True story.

The table might be frighteningly enormous but mere size means nothing. The table is powerless to keep you trapped in that position. If you decide to come out, do you expect the table to be able to stop you? That’s laughable, isn’t it?

Your voluntary acceptance keeps you imprisoned. You wear the hand-cuffs and walk into the prison yourself. There you sit, without a lock on the door, waiting for God knows what! Meanwhile you announce to anyone who’ll listen that life has treated you shamefully. Come, Come! This shoddy alibi is not worthy of you! This won’t work!

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

~Viktor E. Frankl

Your circumstances may have enough power to knock you down but not enough to keep you there. They certainly haven’t enough to rule your life. They are a temporary nuisance; a cheeky impertinence. Their power is derived from your permission to let them paralyze you into inaction. They are impotent without your consent; they are feeble against your will; they are defenceless against your determination.

To be Under The Circumstances is the most comfortable thing in the world. It lets you off the hook and gives you a wonderful excuse for not being up and doing. It’s like taking off a very tight pair of shoes after they’ve been killing your feet for the whole day. You wriggle your toes and relax. To the world you can happily declare, “You see, Under The Circumstances…

The man who gets on in this world is one who, if he doesn’t like his circumstances, goes out and creates his own

~ G.B. Shaw

If your circumstances are preventing you from reaching your goals, create the ones you want. If the circumstances you face cannot be surmounted, perhaps they can be CIRCUMstances-NAVIGATED. If you can’t go through a problem, can you go around, over or under it?

There are times when you’ve tried all you can think of but you remain shackled. Perhaps you are ensnared by events beyond your control. At such times, you must sit still and let the universe move the strings it needs to move in order to extricate you from your prison.

Unfortunately, a perceived blockade can seem as valid as a real one. In both, the challenge seems to be governed by factors beyond your control. Naturally, that complicates matters a lot. You must know which is which; whether you are legitimately helpless or are just being a silly goose (or worse, a lazy bum).

The only way I can make out a real barrier from an imaginary one is by honestly projecting my situation onto someone else. If I see that the person is letting their fears stop them from defeating the challenge, then I know I am doing it too. The ruse works very well most times.

However, if you see that you must wait for things to sort themselves out, there is no reason why you should not stay alert and vigilant. You can be ready to grab a way out from Under The Circumstances as it tries to swish past you on silent wings.

Then you can again stand straight and tall!

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Under the Circumstances

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30 thoughts on “Under the Circumstances”

  1. “Your voluntary acceptance keeps you imprisoned. ” – I agree. Whole-heartedly too. As you aptly put Dagny, the circumstances may knock one down, but one can always circum-navigate just facing them as mere hurdles thrown in your path. I suppose it is about developing that sort of attitude – it can be conditioned if we choose to do it;

    As the quote from James Gordon goes : “It’s not that some people have will power and some people don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not”.

    Thought-provoking post as always, Dags!

    1. James Gordon’s quote is illuminating. I think some people are positively EAGER to give up and hang their lack of spirit on the most conveniently available peg.

      Good to see you here! 🙂

      1. These days, the ones who are “positively eager” to give up and hang their lack of spirit up on the peg” are also the ones who crib and whine publicly seeking for sympathy. Well, I shouldn’t generalise – so I’ll say – a lot of them are. Of course there are gems who get up from under the table and walk away too – silently and stronger than before.

        Always a pleasure to be here, Dagny – Just haven’t been able to get here as much as I’d have liked. But time to rectify that 🙂

        1. As they say Sid, it takes all kinds. Let us just focus on the gems and learn from them. 🙂

          I look forward to your visits always Sid. 😀

  2. I’m trying to get up and get going, to come out from under the table..I refuse to stay down..yes, I cried and sulked for a few days but enough..i will get on with my life and take care of those that matter..let the one who wants to test me TEST me..I’m ready… And thanks for writing what you write Dagny..I often find a lot of answers here…

    1. Naba, once again your comment has made me emotional. I wish I could tell you how happy I am that you were able to find some answers here. My sole purpose of writing is to make this into a space where my readers can experience a shift- big or small. My heart is full of joy in this moment. Thank you!

  3. Your post reminds me of the ‘Serenity Prayer’…
    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference.”

    I could totally identify with the type of people you have mentioned, the ones who are afraid to move the table. It gave me a lot of perspective. You have put in words what I couldn’t frame well in my thoughts. 🙂 Thanks for writing! I am hooked to your blog now.

    1. Welcome to my space Wandering Soul.

      I am gratified that my words helped you to clarify your own thought better. There can’t be anything more wonderful for me. Thank you for this treat. I hope to see more of you here. 🙂

      1. Oh yes, definitely Dagny! by mere chance I stumbled across this gem of wisdom and I look forward to more enlightening posts 😀

  4. Another strong piece from you which tells it like it is! I loved that part where you speak about your early days when you hadn’t yet become the saint – I assume the saint that you are now ;). True that in our ignorance, often we are not able to see our external circumstances as nothing but outer projections of the limitations or incompetence or frustrations or chains or prisons that we carry inside. But in our finer and calmer moments if we can see it like that our focus may shift, instead of blaming the circumstances outside of us we may be working on the cage-like-environment inside of us. Sure, easier to say/write about it. But just this morning it once again became very clear to me that soon after I write something or speak something like this, nature gives me an opportunity to live that very thing. Perhaps Nature is kind enough in her ruthlessness to tell me – ok beta, now actually do what you say one should do 🙂
    Thanks Dagny for this wonderful and strong reminder to get out from under the table!

    1. Oh absolutely Beloo. I am a saint now. 😀

      Nature is really very kind. Sometimes I wish it weren’t so kind all the time. Puts me in quite a spot too when I have to practice what I preach and walk my talk.

      Now I don’t preach until I practice. That helps a lot. 😀 But nature finds other ways of making me walk my talk.. on and on. Or to ruthlessly light up the incidents when I’ve shied away from walking it.

      You’ve no idea how eagerly I wait for your comment. 😛

  5. I am completely sick and tired of staying under the table. Not by choice, but by force. I have moved on my own because I finally realized that the table would never and never move unless I move it or myself. Glad that I chose to move myself.

    Powerful post for the ‘Under the Circumstances’ types including me. 🙂

    1. I know Rekha. You just got out from under it. I hope your journey from this point forward will bring you more joy and fulfillment than it ever did before. Hugs!

    1. Yes Asha. I’ve always found Frankl’s life very inspiring. He chose not to give up. He was truly free because he chose his attitude in the midst of the most terrible circumstances imaginable. Very few of us are able to do that.

  6. What used to frustrate me the most earlier was inaction and I am still not a saint :). I’ve never understood why and how does staying in one spot help. I’ve been through my fair share of problems. Some of them like disease and death were truly beyond my control. But, I fought. I fought with my might. I can’t stand by and watch people just stew in misery. Some I guess I have to because I can’t do much about how they deal with their lives. But if it is within my power, I will ask them to do something, anything! A great post, Dagny. Completely, totally agree with every word.

    1. Now you know why I love you so much. You’re just so much like me. I don’t understand how whining helps. Though to be honest, I remember there were times when I too had started whining. I had decided that my challenges were bigger than my strength. Thankfully I got disgusted with my own stupidity. 😀 😀

      Your comment has delighted me, as always. <3

  7. It is funny to see this person under the table, not the person, I mean. It made me think of so many, many and many, many, circumstances in India, where you cannot get a thing done, without some exchange of value, under the table. Okay, left my two pence, so that you know, I took the trouble to read this. 🙂

  8. Under the circumstances….I like reading this post. On a serious note, some people are so used to blaming their situations that they hardly think about getting out of it. The situation may overwhelm and numb them to take action…but yes, they do not realize that until and unless they take that action they will be horribly stuck there.
    As always a good post.

  9. Atta Girl ! My kind of Post 🙂 Under the circumstances – is NOT my scene at all.. I love myself too much to give ‘circum’ babes any credit 😛 Lovely post Dagny. I also dropped in to say Janaki Nagaraj has nominated you as the Blogger of the Week for The Book Club. It is an honor to have you on our site 🙂

    1. Your phrase ‘circum babes’ made me grin wickedly. 🙂

      I am honored to be a part of your site. Thanks to Janaki for nominating me and to you for making it all possible!

  10. No one could have said it better. Such clarity, such ease and just the right push for those who are under the table to emerge and take charge. Like most, I have been under the table, whining and cribbing. But one gets wiser after the event. An inspiring post. I read it twice. That says it all.

    1. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t wasted time whining and cribbing. We all love it. We want to be martyrs. We want people to sympathize and make a fuss. Oh but we LOVE it! 😀

      Your presence here says it all Alka. I don’t need any more proof. Thank you! <3

  11. Wonderful post Dagny and something that I have been trying to follow for years now. I cannot take it when people tell me they are a victim of circumstances; I keep telling them that circumstances are just a factor, if you let them influence you and your choices then you decided to prioritize them over everything else. Recently I wrote a post on “Do we need to have it all?”, it has a different flavour to it, more on choices than circumstances but the essence remains the same, Its upto us to fight back, we cannot hid behind circumstances for any action of ours.

    1. Seeta, If I paraphrase Johnny Depp, I’d say, “The problem is not the problem; you inability to deal with the problem is the problem.

      Somehow, that sums it all up for me very neatly. 🙂

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