A fall back is the go-to person(s) who we reach out to in times of confusion, chaos and in our weaker times.
Human journey on this planet is full of ups and downs and even though we all have our own strengths, we all have those weaker moments and sometimes major life decision points in life which are filled with self-doubt, confusion, sadness or ambiguities. At those moments, we all fall back on to a trusted person to lend-a-ear, guide us and understand us. We are looking for clarity and comfort at those times in our lives. It is thus very important to choose our fall backs wisely and build a strong relationship with them. They are the people who can have a probable influence as those times of our lives can change the course/ direction of our lives.
Let us reflect on two important characters from Mahabharata. Duryodhana was a person of very high intelligence, power, and knowledge. He had the knowledge about what is right and wrong, yet he couldn’t prevent himself from taking the wrong path and decisions. His fall back was his uncle Shakuni, who had vested interests of his own; which were his own resentments against Pandavas, Bheeshma and also Dhitrashtra to a certain extent. He manipulated Duryodhana during his confused state by massaging his ego, and always blaming the other for the situation which was surrounding Duryodhana. Shakuni made Duryodhana dependent on him gradually for all important or smaller decisions.
However, Arjun’s fall back was Krishna who presented him with facts, higher truths of life and allowed Arjuna to make his own choices and decisions. Krishna accepted and honed Arjuna as a wise leader and empowered him to make his own choices and be responsible for the choices he makes. Krishna never manipulated him in any way that if you go this route I will not be with you or if you do not listen to me you will lose me. This made Arjuna and all the Pandavas choose wisely their own path of truth and follow their dharma.
We all know the destiny which was finally shaped for Duryodhana and Arjuna; the Kauravas and the Pandavas; and we can see clearly how Shakuni and Krishna had an influence on them. Though we cannot blame or hold Shakuni or Krishna responsible, as it was finally Duryodhana and Arjun’s responsibility to shape their own lives and choose their own paths. However, the choice of their fallbacks had a great influence on their personality, decisions and their own mental health.
Reflect on who is your fallback? Does he or she massage your ego in those confused situations, or he/she provides comfort and assurance and yet helps you see the light within and choose your own path wisely. Our fallbacks might not necessarily be as extreme as Shakuni or Krishna but we can gauge which ways they tend towards.
Also, reflect upon how you play your role as a fallback. When others fall back on you when they are confused, do you hold the space for them and not react, or you unconsciously get your own stories mixed up with theirs. Do you assist the person see his own wisdom and see the truth or lure him in forgetting what is bothering him and blaming the other in turn, making your friend believe that he is really the victim and the other person/situation is the perpetrator? Do you meditate or contemplate the situation without judgments or you unconsciously get your vested interests fulfilled through the situation?
Let us take another example. Consider there is a strained and unfriendly relationship between a husband and wife in a family. Now, if the son has a tiff with his mother over a night-out he wants to have with his friends and goes to the father for comfort, the father has two choices – to become like a Shakuni and validate his son’s feelings, sympathise with him and say that your mother is like this with all and doesn’t give space to anyone, including me. He goes on to add his own negativity and judgments about his spouse to his son. In this case, he has mixed his own emotions in the situation. Now the second choice the father can take is to keep his issues with his spouse aside, but still listen to the son empathetically and make him understand that his mother does a lot and there would be a reason/wisdom in what she is saying or maybe the mother is just having a bad day, and let us support her and hold the space for her. This will let the son see the higher perspective, however, if the father mixes his own emotions with his son’s, it might lure him to make critical and unhealthy judgments about his own mother. This kind of situation happens very often in many families and the relationships used as an example could be different.
We all play fallbacks to other people in our lives, especially as a spouse, parent, child, sibling friend, relative or colleague. Let us be mindful of our energies and emotions so that when someone comes to us in their turbulent times, we are able to empathise with them, yet stay in a neutral state and reflect their true essence just as a true mirror would do.
Realise the role of your sangha, your companions, your friends and family and how they can influence the direction of your journey of life in a profound way.
Choose your fallbacks wisely and be an empathetic yet honest fallback to someone else.