Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Kindly Adjust

Once upon a time, someone did something that really upset me. What they did hurt my feelings. It didn’t cause any physical damage, but my emotions were sorely bruised. That person never apologized or offered any explanation for their behavior, but only said: “kindly adjust”. That only served to push my buttons even harder and friends had to scrape me off of the ceiling. The ironic part to the story is that is some of the best advice I have ever been given.
I have a very attractive friend who seemed to be on a permanent diet. All she would eat for meals was a salad and a sheet of unleavened bread that closely resembled cardboard. One time I asked her how long she was going to be on her “cardboard diet” and she replied: “focus on your own path”. Rather than be upset over her comment, I realized that she was exactly right. Whatever one else is thinking or doing is none of my business. My business is what I am thinking or doing, and that is a full time job.
When I meditate on the words “kindly adjust”, those words go much deeper than a superficial “f*ck off”. The reality of the situation is that I was the one with expectations and I was the one who chose to be upset when my expectations were not met. I am reminded of a story I tell often about the Dalai Lama. A woman approached him at one of his lectures and complained that her family hated her and she was depressed. She asked the Dalai Lama what to do and he replied, “change your mind”. “Kindly adjust” is a similar suggestion, and for me it means that I have to change the way I think about people, places and things. When I think of those two words, “kindly adjust”, I actually laugh because I visualize some dot Indian guru wagging his head back and forth along with his index finger pointing at my heart.
We often set ourselves up for failure and disappointment by creating unrealistic expectations and then being disappointed when they are not met. It is a lot simpler to not form the expectation in the first place. We expect people to live up to our standards, when our standards keep us miserable and suffering. By not having expectations, we will never be disappointed.
To bring this concept home, I recently had an unpleasant exchange with a webpage administrator who had deleted some of my posts claiming that the posts did not comply with the theme of the webpage. I asked for an explanation and was told that was none of my business. At first, I was angry but then the words popped into my head “kindly adjust”. I laughed and let go of the emotions that had been stirred in this exchange.
We are always confronted with people and events that violate our rules about how life should be and how people should act. It is far easier for us to adjust to those circumstances than to expect other people to live up to our rules and expectations. We don’t have to engage with people who lack manners or are unkind and we can adjust by simply refusing to engage with them. We don’t have to necessarily abandon our hope that people will be kind and considerate, but we can adjust how we react to people that don’t.
The last benefit of contemplating how we can adjust is to ask ourselves why are we upset in the first place. Usually it is because we don’t like some part of ourselves that the other person is mirroring for us so we can see it. Even if it is simply to commit to not being like the person that is before us, we have learned a valuable lesson from the exchange. We need to remember to coat our words with sugar, because some day we may have to eat them. So if you are having a difficult time with a person, situation or circumstance, simply keep repeating to yourself “kindly adjust”, “kindly adjust”, “kindly adjust”. After you have repeated this affirmation to yourself long enough, a solution to the conflict with present itself. Happy New Year!