Have you observed a balloon seller? He inflates a few balloons, ties a thread around each one and wraps those threads around his fingers. When someone comes to buy a balloon, he removes one from one of his fingers and gives it away. Then he inflates another balloon and ties it to his finger again.
Our mind is like the balloon seller. Myriad different objects in the world entice us like balloons and our desires are like the threads that keep our mind attached to the objects. The moment one desired object is acquired, it gets detached from our mind. But our mind immediately inflates another one and promptly gets attached to it!
Everyone is quite aware of this. Then why are people attracted to money rather than to cementing relationships? The reason is very simple. With money, you can make contact on unilateral basis, but when it comes to a human being, you have to make contact with him on a bilateral basis, that is, on a give and take basis. This is perhaps the reason why people show a preference for money over man.
But this choice is an unnatural one. Those who opt for money develop a duality in their personality. That is, they develop double standards. You may opt for single living, but you cannot afford to be single in the greater life of the outside world. In your job, in your profession, business, everywhere, you have to deal with others. In these areas, you have to adopt that bilateral formula which you refuse to adopt on the home front.
A growing trend that I've observed is the minimizing of our own, and another's pain. People say things like, “Well, it’s nothing compared to the people who just lost their homes! I should feel lucky for all the blessings in my life.” Or “I feel ridiculous expressing my frustration with the icy roads; after all, someone just lost a loved one.” Or “It’s selfish to feeling down today when I have so much to be grateful for!” These comments seem to say that our experience no matter how unpleasant or burdensome are not great enough to acknowledge, let alone extend compassion or empathy. We can easily invalidate our experiences because of greater suffering elsewhere.
If we are unable to accept, process, and empathize with our own emotions, it is difficult to be present to people around us.
Don't harden your heart—feel!
Don't just get busier and check one more thing off your list—feel!
Don't judge or criticize yourself—feel!
Don't buck up—feel!
Otherwise, the unfelt emotions will block the flow of energy and life through us much like a clogged drain prevents water from draining in a sink. What happens when we don’t take care of a clogged drain? Eventually, we have a much bigger problem and need to call the plumber.
One possible combatant for indifference is to take one small and meaningful action. When an action is meaningful to us, the movement inspires us and moves us to do another. And pretty soon we feel better, lighter.