OF FEARS – RATIONAL AND IRRATIONAL

As a child, I feared darkness. If there was a sudden disruption in power supply while I was alone in a room, a spontaneous shriek was sure to escape from me. How I overcame it, is sure to add humour to your day!!

One fine evening, I told myself that – my mother doesn’t shriek in fear when she is alone in a room and the power goes off, and my father doesn’t either. Nor do my grandparents, aunts or uncles. So if I continue to be afraid of the dark, I would carry it with me to my adult years as well. And how am I going to comfort my children when they are afraid of the dark, when I am no less? As a child, my mother came to me with a lit candle when it got dark. How will I do the same if I continue to be afraid? From that day, I decided to make a conscious effort to calm myself in the event of being alone in a room when there was a sudden power cut. It worked! It wasn’t easy. Nor did the change happen overnight. But, it did happen.

Our fears can be overcome! While I say this, I also acknowledge the fact that all fears can’t be overcome. A strong determination, motivation and counselling, therapy can help overcome many of our fears. However, some fears still continue to reside comfortably within us. To give an example, I haven’t overcome my fear of caterpillars. Come rainy season, and my eyes scan all walls, doors and windows for any sign of the creepy creature. More than a fear, its just a yucky repelling feeling.

Fear is a powerful human emotion. It is a response to the perception of an imminent danger/threat. Fear may be aroused in the presence of the object of fear or in remembrance of a past episode with the object of fear or in anticipation of a future encounter with it. For instance, one may be afraid of the fierce winds, heavy rainfall and the sight of houses and trees falling down during a cyclone; or may shudder recalling a past experience of a cyclone or may simply be afraid anticipating the footfall of a cyclone some day in the unseen future.

Some fears are rational. You cannot obviously, expect to see a lion and run towards it with a welcome smile! Such fears are rational. Whereas there are some fears which are irrational. These irrational fears are termed as ‘phobias’. Phobias are not easy to do away with, and require short-term or long-term therapy in order to be overcome. Rational fears on the other hand, are comparatively easier to be dealt with.

Stage fear, fear of facing an interview panel, fear of darkness, fear of sexual intimacy after marriage, fear of conceiving a child are all rational fears under normal circumstances (unless there is some compelling aversive antecedent to it).

There is a difference between discomfort and anxiety and fear. I remember going to a metro station in New Delhi and changing my travel plans and returning, on finding it overcrowded. Seeing the crowd milling all over the platform with practically no breathing space, I didn’t even descend the stairs to the platform! Now, that has nothing to do with phobia. It is just a sense of extreme mental discomfort. On the other hand, there are people who, in such a crowded situation would have broken into a sweat with high palpitations and pulse rate. This is phobia.

The same object can induce rational fear for one and irrational fear for another. There can be no strict categories for objects of rational and irrational fears.

While fear perception is a sign of a normal human being, continuing to live with fears, is not healthy. It affects one’s functioning as an individual and one’s relationship with others and how one views the world. It is best to overcome fear or to be surrounded by people who can guard and guide in the event of occurrence of such fears.

Having said it all, I strongly believe that all fears can be overcome with strength from God. I’m not being a fanatic when I say this. But its the faith within, that if God is in control of this massive universe, He is in control of my fears and yours.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

 

FEAR, FEAR, IN MY HEART

Walking through this life, I often Stumble

Sailing through time, it makes me Tremble

Fears can’t be faced with a pinch of Salt

It Hampers my growth, but it’s not my Fault

Thorny and Barbed and Dry and Rough

I can walk no more, this road is tough

Days can be dark, nights can be darker

Fright Has no pattern, there is no Marker

Just know that it’s fine if you take a fall

If you conquer your fears and just stand tall

Yours can be a dog or a spider or a snake

Mine can be flowers or books or cake

I fear Doctors and Dying and Crowd

But that’s no reason that I can’t feel proud

You won’t know Freedom until you know a cage

Just overcome that horror, just turn that Page

For you are not alone in this battle that’s within

But just keep on fighting and never do Give in

You try and try, you try harder and you fail

You sob and you cry and you whine and you wail

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows” they say

So snatch it by its neck and show it the Highway

You seek but none can help, it’s your own battle

These scares and these frights are your own chattel

So don’t show your back and run like a coward

Focus on your strengths and feel empowered

I would let you on a secret, on how to be Wise

F.E.A.R is an acronym for, Face Enemy And Rise!

CAN’T BEAR THEIR SIGHT!!

Fear or phobia is a very big word. I don’t know what I feel is fear or just plain discomfort or borderline disgust.

I have this huge revulsion towards reptiles. The snakes, crocs or any kind of slithering animals. I just have a huge fear of these things. Sometimes I wonder why. Mind you I have never seen these animals outside of the cage. Never had a bad encounter with any of them. But just the thought of them makes me cringe.

I will share a few instances. As in most households we put on the television while having dinner. And when it comes to TV channel all the four members of our family have different choices. If by chance my younger son gets hold of the remote he will put on his favourite channel – Animal Planet or Discovery. While I too believe that these channels are very informative and it’s better than watching mindless cartoons. But please, please not while having food. Just imagine you are having your dinner and right in front of you they are showing Bear Grylls of Man vs Wild eating raw worms or an animal catching its prey in close up. I don’t know about your reaction but my food takes a reverse gear and I puke.

In Pune there is a very beautiful Zoo. It was earlier only a snake park and then converted into a full-fledged Zoo. So a huge chuck of the zoo is still dedicated to snakes and other reptiles. My kids love going there but I can’t get myself to look into those cages. Even though I know they are safely locked up and can’t harm me. I just cannot bear the sight. During our last visit I sat outside the snake park with a packet of chips and cold drinks for company while my whole family went and admired all those slithering beauties.

Actually speaking, any close contact with any animal raises my self-preservation antennae. Like my dear friend Chiradeep I am really scared of dogs too. Even the pets. Even with the pet owner by my side I am never comfortable if the dog is roaming around in the room. The owners will try to sooth me by saying that “Don’t worry he won’t bite,” or when the dog is sniffing me and they tell me “He is just trying to be friendly”. I am standing very still and in my mind I am shouting at the pet owner – “The dog knows that I am afraid of him. He will definitely try to overpower me. Help!! Just send him to the other room.”

I know these fears are silly. But this is me. Can’t change. My husband tried to get a pet Labrador. A very cute little pup. But in a week’s time he realized that either he could keep his pet or his wife. Both can’t coexist. I was so scared of the little puppy that I spent most of my day on the bed. So that the puppy couldn’t reach me.

List of phobias are endless. I am very scared of watching any kind of horror movies. Even if I see a trailer of a horror movie and later forget about it during the course of the day. The trailer comes back in my mind at night to haunt me. So I am quick to change channels if there is any such advertisement is coming up.

I think I am not the only one. We all have such little fears and phobias. Do share your phobias in the comments section.

MY FEAR OF “NOT LOOKING GOOD”

One of my biggest fear that makes my stomach crumple is the fear of being judged wrongly, the fear of people thinking that I am bad, fear of people believing that I am not good enough for something.

Fear of looking bad comes when I constantly think of “What people will think of me?” and the answer to that question actually drives my actions. This also means that my own opinions would not matter. It would always be defined and governed by what people want me to do and behave.

In the past I had a tough situation at work. Apparently, the team that I worked with did not think that I am doing enough work or performing to my capabilities. They always had reasons to find faults at me. Mainly most of them did not like me. I remember not wanting to go to work at all and even crying in washrooms during the day. It was a horrible time for me because somehow what people think of me mattered to me a lot.

“What can I do so that people like me?” “How should I behave to be in good books of people close to me?” “What does he/she expect from me?” These were the kind of questions always running in my head. It was so important for me to be a “Good Girl” that I would go to just any limits to make this happen. That doesn’t mean that I always followed what people wanted me to do. That meant that I would always give an impression to people around me that I am the best. It was more prevalent with my family members.

Long ago when I was studying, I had a close friend. She used in confide in me a lot and I used to as well. But there was one problem – she was very judgmental. Every time she would feel that I am doing something wrong in her opinion, she would simply invalidate my feelings and tell me that I was wrong. As a result of this I started to hesitate in sharing my feelings with her, because I knew she would come down on me. But the fact is that I had to be “Nice” to her so I started to hide things and even lying to her. So, it was double life – on one side I would things that I liked and on the other I would be a person that she would approve of. One can imagine what happened to our friendship, it died after a lot of trouble.

Things like these happen to me quite a lot – where being nice or looking good in the eyes of others is so important for me that I would step upon my own feelings. The result would be that I would end up being a doormat.

In Dec 2016, I took a resolution to make an attempt to get over this fear. I took a very conscious decision to have those difficult conversations with people around me to make myself heard. I made a list of people I have to talk and the topics I have to talk to about. Initially, it took a lot of preparation in order to come up with the conversation but now I think I am getting used to just telling people (in a nice way) that I disagree with them.

I think my parents did an amazing job of putting values of being nice, being kind, being selfless in me. But excess of anything is harmful. I have gone through a lot of emotional turmoil because of this fear. I have a feeling now that I might be on journey to keep this fear behind me. I hope so.

EXPECTATIONS – MY GREATEST FEAR

“You must learn driving, it’s very important.  Go and clear driving theory test” my husband coax me every time he has to come to pick me up for important appointments and he runs late for his meetings.

I know he is right but can’t muster enough courage to give it a try after I failed my previous attempt just by two marks.  I am scared of one more failure that would put me in a tight spot.

Well if you ask me the reason I would say “Expectation“.  When I see people around me expect more and more out of me especially when there is a test of my capabilities and pair of eyes judging me, I fumble and finally crumble.  Huge expectations instill fear in me.

It happened numerous times in my life.  In school and college when my parents,  teachers and fellow students expected me to come out with flying colours (read topper) I secured a score which was not par excellence.

I felt cold sweat dampening my palms when I fail to explain a lesson properly or derive correct solution to a problem while teaching students because I knew they were expecting me to know everything, they paid me for my expertise.

I knew what was expected from me, was well prepared but the fear of failure, a question “what if I couldn’t match the bar set” made me develop cold feet.  Sleepless nights to restlessness to fall in appetite – these are few things that I experience when I have to deliver.

Even today the situation is no different.  Let me give you an example:  My husband thinks that I am really good in French as compared to him.   So high is the level of his confidence in me ( which I appreciate for sure) that he would hand over to me any official document and demand a translation so that we could proceed.  And when such demand has to be met instantly few thoughts flash in my mind ” what would happen if I fail to give an exact or nearly exact message?  He would surely question me what happened to your knowledge of language which you acquired in language classes. What would be my image hereafter if I fail now?” ( All these thoughts before finally resorting to Google Translate 😀).  But the fact is my knowledge is intermediate (this is in typical CV style).  I don’t have a vast  french vocabulary but I manage things confidently  when amidst complete strangers with no one to judge me.

Expectations reduce the joy of receiving”  it’s a well-known fact of life.  In my case it’s not an exception but I fear lest it would make me stand in a different light in the eyes of those who expected from me – perhaps as “Useless“.  I fear of being the reason of others’ unhappiness who kept their faith invested in me.

Who or what shall be blamed is my dilemma – Their expectations? My inability to deliver when it matters?  My constant battle to be perfect in others’ view of me?  Inability to relax and let things go and take their own course?

Will I ever be able to help myself ?  May be yes.  One thing I have realised so far is that my fear to deliver is a result of me trying to fill in every shoe or my own failure to compare with others the right way.  I have to inculcate confidence in myself.  I have to believe strongly that I am unique, something others might not be, something which is meant to be rejoiced.  I must take pride in the fact that people around me trust and expect me to perform.  I must stop seeking approval of everyone.  There’s no other way to break the shell of “Fear” around me.

But this self belief is definitely an uphill task for me.  And your support is indispensable.

Even now when I am penning down my innermost fears I am fearing how it would be received.

MAN’S BEST FRIEND, MY WORST FEAR

I came back home as I was scared of it and there was no one walking with whom I could have gone along till my department. My aunt and sisters asked “what happened… why have I come back…?” My answer was, “my friend will come and then I will go… I don’t want to go alone”. But they could make out from my face that something is wrong. They will keep teasing till I tell them the truth that there was a dog on the road and I was scared to cross it and walk ahead to my department. 😦

It will be unbelievable for you if I say that I love dogs yet I am very scared of them. Once I went to a relative’s house and their dog was small and so cute. I really wanted to hold it in my arms. But I didn’t dare that much… I just tried to caress it’s head with my palms… It gave me a friendly look. I was happy. I was almost there to touch it’s head when it barked at me. I jerked back and hit the back of my head on the wall scared of it though the bark was a friendlier one. It wagged it’s tail at me continuously but I never touched it again.

I really had a very bad experience with dog though I was unharmed. I was a teen when I went to take my guard to bat while my cousin was getting ready to bowl at me. I found there was a mother dog along with its puppies underneath a shade where we had made our wickets. This mother dog looked at me and growled at me gritting its canine teeth. I was scared to death. Without looking back at her I turned and ran towards my cousin calling his name. There was an aunt who came out and drove the dog away from me and I was saved from a sure shot dog bite that day. Thank God, I didn’t have that opportunity till now.

I always feel bad that I don’t have a dog myself. I crave to have one but huh… I am so scared of it that I suppress my desire within myself.

Cynophobia is the word that describes my fear. Now don’t laugh at me or tease me. I pity myself that I can’t hug a 🐕 but is scared of it.

I don’t know how to get rid of this fear. Probably as all other said before me that facing my problem might help me to get over it.

Keep reading… Good morning all.

FEARS AND CHOICES

Fear is very unpleasant to all who experience it. It makes oneself very vulnerable to the world, and no one likes the same. This week, we are discussing the different kinds of Fears and Phobias, and today I am going to share one of them. I would like to talk about a fear called “Claustrophobia”, which is an extreme and irrational fear of confined spaces. The person experiencing this, when stuck in a confined space, experiences dizziness, blackouts and severe panic.

I, myself have never experienced the phobia but I am going to share the experience of my husband. Recently, we were going to a friends place for a visit. While going to the elevator, the watchman came running and told us that, at times the elevator does get stuck in the middle and you have to push some button to make it move again. We stood there for some time thinking if we could just climb the stairs. But to the top floor!!! It wasn’t really a good idea as we had our baby with us. We took the lift, and I was subconsciously asking God to take us directly to the top floor. And just then the lights went off! And we stood there. We weren’t even halfway through. I told my husband to call our friend and I just looked at him. He was in shock! All frozen, sweaty and he couldn’t even pull his phone out of his pocket. Before I could tell him anything, the current came back and the lift started moving. Only after we reached, did he take his sigh of relief. 

It’s not only lifts that makes these people feel so uneasy. It can be a simple bedsheet covering the head or getting locked inside your very own room feeling stuck. Even the mosquitoes nets, a long tight hug, no windows in a room, or an MRI machine, etc. Its all in his head and he loves to keep it. Well, it is his fear! Similarly, for me, I am scared of accidents and it is called “Dystychiphobia”. I am in a panic every time the vehicle touches a speed of 60 and above. I do try to control this fear but many a time I surrender to the panic.

I personally feel that sometimes surrendering to the panic and going with the flow always soothes us, and later it calms us as well. If we do not do anything about it, it might haunt us that we could have fought back. It is in a way, we fighting with our own self to be less vulnerable to others in keeping the sane mind intact. It is when we try too much and fail to control those emotions, that we expose the most intricate and raw self of ours.

Many people are strong enough to control their emotions and fears, and give life a chance. Many aren’t that strong. But God always helps us find our peace of mind and also help us find ways to avoid situations. Facing fears and running from it are the choices life gives us. But only God can help us choose what is good for that situation. It is what the great leader Nelson Mandela once said, “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.”