Amid the overwhelming feedback you all sent for last week’s column on the know-it-alls, was a mail from a guy who almost seemed to scold me. He wrote, ‘I agree with every advice you’ve given. But not with the one about quietly leaving the scene if the other person starts to argue. That would make me feel like a coward. Do you want us to be like that? Do you?’ Arrey…thand rakho gadadhari Bheem, I’m supposed to give ‘calmness’ tips, remember? If we want, we can happily turn all pointless arguments into mini Mahabharats and feel like the valiant Arjun every evening, but I doubt if that is any good measure of bravery.
However, on that subject, I absolutely concede that the feeling of not being ‘brave enough’ is a big source of stress in life. From those who scream and get on top of chairs on seeing a rat (count my entire team), to those who are scared of standing upto bullies in college or at workplace… and to those who are scared of failing in their endeavours — fear remains the most distressing negative emotion.
When you are unable to face something because it scares you, you basically keep thinking about it and don’t end up with a very positive image of yourself in your own eyes. The stress may worsen if you begin to compare your response to a situation with someone else’s, who may not have that fear. You know, that ‘woh-kar-sakta-hai-par-mein nahi’ kinda feeling? Terrible.
A friend of mine, who I consider among the most intelligent people on the face of this planet, suffers ironically, from the fear of public speaking. And not just on a stage or something, she hesitates from speaking out even at a work meeting. So, even when she could silence everyone around her in a matter of minutes with her superb logic, she remains quiet and feels miserable later for not being able to make an impact, vis-a-vis someone who had half the brains but could present his thoughts.
So you see, fear that may range from serious to silly, could have quite an adverse impact on our state of mind. But the good news is that scientists say it is possible to conquer almost every fear in life. Ab jab science kehti hai toh chalo maan lete hain. Let’s see how we can make a beginning.
1 First step, STOP thinking too much about consequences. Now if you are about to interpret this advice negatively and say something like ‘haww, this woman is telling us to do things without thinking,’ I swear I’ll line you up and shoot you. Because that’s not what I’m saying. My point is that fear results when we worry too much about what will happen. Our imagination runs wild, and of course, in the negative direction. If we could consciously force our mind to stay in the present and deal with the situation as it is, rather than ‘what it could be’, we may just ward off the fear.
I’m repeating a dinner table story my father-in-law had once shared. ‘There was a man whose car has a flat tyre in the middle of a secluded road in the dead of the night. He tries to change the tyre but realises that he does not have the ‘jack’. Far into the distance, he sees the lights of a house and decides to walk down and borrow the jack. Since it’s quite a distance, while walking, this man starts to imagine what would happen when he’ll ring the doorbell of someone’s house so late. He tells himself that the owner will come out really angry on being woken up. Then he would get into an argument with him about how he’s a careless driver to have been stuck in that situation. He further imagines that in the heat of the argument, the man would question why he’s out on that lonely stretch at such a late hour and whether he’s a criminal. Basically, by the time this man actually reaches the house, he’s so apprehensive and scared about what will happen, that he rings the bell and the moment the door opens, shouts, ‘To hell with your jack. I don’t want it.’ The nice guy on the other side, who would’ve actually been all too willing to help, is totally stumped and slams the door on the mentally unstable creep.’ After this story, whenever my mind starts to form imaginary fear situations of something that may go wrong, I tell myself to not ‘borrow the jack’. I think you should try the same.
2 Second, know the difference between bravery and stupidity: I don’t think this needs explanation but you should know that with some people, it is a thin line.
3 Finally, make it a rule to ‘do one thing every day that you are scared of’. This advice by Eleanor Roosevelt can actually do wonders. We all know our deep-rooted fears. Start with something small. Without making too much halla about what you are striving to do, quietly take that small step towards conquering your fear. Let this be your very own Mission: Be Brave. I would wait to hear from how you conquered your fears, because that’ll give me strength to conquer mine.
All the luck.
Sonal Kalra thinks ‘Mission: Be Brave’ could become hugely successful. But, what if it isn’t? She fears people won’t respond. Maybe they’ll think it’s pointless.
Oh no! Mail your calmness tricks to her at email@example.com
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