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.”

 

MY CONTRADICTING PHOBIAS

Every human action, every deed, every intention, all over the universe, at a very fundamental level, is instigated by one of the two factors. One, is, of course, love. Deeds done out of love.And the second one is fear. Deeds done out of fear. Behind every act, at the most root level, lies the seeds of either love or fear.

Childhood is the most impressionable age for the mind and its perspective of the environment. Most of our Phobia’s or Fear’s germinate in our youth. The very malleable and ductile psyche of a child is prone to get affected by any scary or frightening events for a lifetime. They are our core memories, and they often turn into unfounded fears that haunt us all our coming years.

Kids know many fears – fear of the darkness, fear of the ghosts, fear of the unknown, fear of strangers, fear of dogs, fear of punishment, fear of loss, and many more. Usually, these concern vanish as we grow older and become first teenagers, then adults. But some people never get over their childhood fears.

This is the very reason that we tend to save our children from witnessing violence or unnatural phenomenon. We all go through few such instances, and hence we all have our unique set of fears and phobias, some that are reasonable and logical and some unfounded and illogical.

A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Unreasonable meaning that there’s no reason to be afraid of it. Although a phobia is very similar to fear ‒ but the reaction to the threat is exponentially stronger, enough that it interferes with their daily activities. You see something that reminds you of something that scared you very strongly, the feeling of panic you experience reinforce the visual stimuli, which in turns reinforces the kinesthetic part of it and you are in a vicious circle feeding itself, and the panic is uncontrollable.

Fears are natural, normal and human to experience. They carry, within them, lessons and opportunities for growth. How we respond to our fear is what determines the usefulness of the fear. Fear can be the engine that impels us forward or the brake that keeps us grounded but is the one who decides which one it is.

Now let me tell you a little bit about my phobias and try to fathom from where they generate. The strange thing about my phobias is that they are contradicting, let me tell you how:

1. I have Isolophobia or Monophobia, or Autophobia is the fear of being alone. It turns out I suffer from this to a great extent. I always have nightmares about being left alone or left behind. I hate separation to the limit of keeping everyone at a distance so they won’t get too close or I might have to suffer when they finally leave someday. I feel sad at small instances when my relatives leave after spending a day with me. I just hate Goodbyes. I think its roots are buried somewhere deep in my psyche. Being an only child, I was often told that someday I would have no immediate blood relatives left and that fear on.y strengthened when my father passed away. I get so paranoid with this fear that sometimes I decide to die rather than being left all alone.

And then I have Enochlophobia or Ochlophobia. Enochlophobia is the exact polar opposite of Monophobia. I suffer from this condition, and I am afraid of crowds of people, I want to be left alone. Social gatherings scare the shit out of me, and I’m always shying away from public meetings because of the crowds. Imagine suffering from this disorder if you lived in Delhi, Mumbai or even in London. Sensory overload aplenty!

Just think how terrible it gets for me because at one side I am scared of being left alone and on other, I can’t stand crowd. I am comfortable only in the company of a handful of people.

Iatrophobia is a social phobia of doctors or going to see doctors from which I suffer. This fear extends to surgeons, getting injections, getting medical diagnostics or anyone in the medical field. The effects of this phobia are bad and result in me not receiving medical treatment when suffering from medical problems. It might have stemmed from a traumatic childhood experience with a doctor, being intimidated by some doctor, or a fear of surgeries and procedures It is also from a fear of pain or a fear of catching other diseases from the doctors’ surgery I guess. I resist getting medical help to the point where it gets dangerous for me, and my mother is often left in a fix when she sees me suffer and can’t help me.

And then I have Hypochondria which is a belief that physical symptoms are signs of a severe illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of a disease. It’s one of the worst things I cope with on a regular basis. I’m sure everyone has those moments where they feel a weird pain, and they google it, and WebMD says that they’re probably dying, a simple cough could be cancer, a simple headache could be a brain tumour, a simple chest pain in heart attach and simple numbness is a stroke. All this leads to depression and anxiety which in turn make the symptoms worse, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

The good thing is I am slowly recovering from these things. I am slowly coming out of my horror. I know I drive my mom crazy because I’m always asking what’s wrong with me. When there isn’t anything wrong. I go to the Dr much more easily now. I let people go much more easily and I try to attend get-togethers and Parties. So, all in all, I am doing good.

The above two given phobias are also contradicting Phobias as they oppose each other. On one end I am dying of fear that I have some terminal disease while on another end I can’t eliminate the fear because I won’t go to a doctor or won’t get any tests done.

When it comes to phobias, one of the most influential methods to get rid of them is to meet your fears face to face. If you are afraid of snakes, go into a room with one(just make sure it’s not poisonous). For everything, there’s a basis, so you’ve got to pinpoint the exact problem, to solve THAT. Growing “tough” is not what you want. Overcoming phobia, stress, and fear is what you want to work on. You’ve got the power to resolve everything. So, the answer always lies within yourself, but it’s a method getting there. Medication and therapy help but it all depends on person to person. You probably heard things like “You can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink, “ and despite how annoying it is it’s true. The thirst needs to come from within. The person overcoming a fear has to see it as a problem, except its a challenge, want to change the problem and take steps to overcome it. I would look up that particular fear and see how other people did it. Each concern is different and needs to be treated as such.

Have fun, smile, and live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. ‘Carpe Diem.

FEAR FROM SCHOOL HOMEWORK TO COLLEGE GIRLFRIEND!

Fear and Life co-exist. It’s not feasible for life to exist without fear. While I was doing a retrospection of my own life, I came across two major incidents in my life which I believe you might have been through too! One happened with me, when I was in School where life was running on routine and the other one happened with me, when I was in College where life moved as I wished.

School Homework: Yes, you read it right… its school homework. Throughout my schooling, I used to do my homework for the FEAR of being punished or being failed in the examination. The fear of punishment was the factor that forced me to finish my homework. When I look to the positive side of this fear factor, I learned a lesson. Doing homework for the fear of punishment disciplined my life as a student and helped me in my career path.

Without fear life will become rudderless, which is not only precarious for us but also for our fellow human beings. Fear, time and again disciplines us and safeguards our lives from erroneous consequences. It constricts us with certain parameters of life and makes us ‘Being Human’ instead of human being. Everyone with flesh, blood and mind is a Human Being but ‘Being Human’ is the one whose life is always safeguarded with ‘FEAR,’ in a positive sense.

College Girlfriend: Like most of the other guys I had a girlfriend during my graduation days at College. When I was in that relationship I dreamt many dreams with her which later became a grisly nightmare. After the break-up for many days, this grisly nightmare or my shattered dream became the fear factor with regards to trusting another person. I had that fear of failure whenever I found that a relationship had started to bloom.

The fear of that grisly nightmare always comes as an obstacle in front of me when I try to take a step ahead. But the hope keeps shouting behind, ‘go ahead, and do not fear’. Fear of our past mistake is annoying. We commit mistakes in order to learn and grow – not to fear and stop growing in life. Fear is always a dark cloud, which has to pass by but that does not mean we stop walking. There is always sunrise after sunset. So don’t fear your FEAR.

I would like to conclude this snippet with one note – When your fear brings  discipline, consider it. But when it brings hopelessness, don’t consider it, just overlook and keep moving till you reach your destination.

AUTHENTICITY OF MY FEAR

We were just 21 years of age, fresh out of college with new dreams of building our successful careers in the IT hub of India. This story is of about 10 years back when I and few of my friends came to Bangalore on a job hunt. We stayed in a PG, ate in a small local canteen, bought bus passes every day to attend numerous walk-ins and interviews. We all belonged to small cities and had never been to shopping malls earlier. Only one of us had taken a flight in her life. We were basically simple girls with little access to luxuries that we enjoy today.

One day when we went to the mall, we encountered the escalators. Yes, you might laugh at this but 10 years ago, girls like us had never stepped on an escalator. With a bit of hesitation I managed to step on to it. But one of my friends simply refused to get on it. She was literally trembling at the thought of stepping on it. She eventually got over this fear and now we all have a good laugh about those incidents.

I have learnt that there are two types of fears – authentic and inauthentic. Authentic fears are the real fears. The fear that you have if you spot a snake in your room is an authentic fear. My friend’s fear of escalator also was an authentic fear. This type of fear keeps you on your toes and helps you stay safe and alive.

Inauthentic fears have no concreteness; these are fears which are based on ifs and buts. “What will people think of me if I stammer on the stage?” is an example of inauthentic fears.

I would invite each of you to look at your fears right now and find out if it is authentic or inauthentic. Most of us will realize that it is an inauthentic fear that pesters us the most. These are the fears that stop us from taking a risk and grow.

One of the most common fears that I always had is “What will people think of me?” This fear of being judged and rejected had turned me into a people-pleaser. And this is what happens – these inauthentic fears tend to have a life-long effect on personalities which hinder our very growth. The only way to realize these changes in the personality is to have someone show you a mirror. When you have that trustworthy friend who tells you that you are being a doormat to your spouse – listen to that friend and introspect to see what might be causing it.

Life always throws situations at us with which we will always confront our fears. And that is the time when you will realize that you have been living under the umbrella of an inauthentic fear whereas the whole wide world of success was waiting for you outside. Getting over an inauthentic fear is also like stepping on that escalator that scares the hell out of you. You just have to take that one step and the escalator will take you to the heights.

Do not run away from the situations in life because that is when you reject the chance the life gives of getting over an inauthentic fear.

DO NOT LET YOUR FEARS CHOOSE YOUR DESTINY

It was my first day in a new city, while I was returning from work, I lost my way back to the hostel. I hurriedly glanced at my phone, neither there was signal nor I could see any lights nearby. It was 10.12 PM, damn dark and I was hardly able to even hear any sounds, except my own breath.

Something inside me was shaking, my palms sweating, legs trembling, heart beat racing up n up as minutes passed by, I wandered in different directions searching for a way out of that place. 

I have a brain like a sieve when  it comes to directions, no wonder I lost my way. Tumbling through bones scattered all around the place, stinking odor all around,  I unknowingly uttered, “My God !! Where did I end up ? How on earth would I find anyone for help ?”.

Each minute that passed by was like a life time. After an hour ‘n’ half, I finally found my way back to the hostel.The thoughts I was going through are hard to explain in words, the scariest of the nights of my life till date. 

Wondering what the place was ? It was a graveyard, that was being dug for some construction. This is what happens when city grows around graveyards.. Lol !!

This incident in anyway does not mean that I am a coward. I have done adventures, that many people don’t even think of doing 🙂 . No matter, how gutsy a person is, there can still be fears that they go through.

Get on to the web and there are tons of phobias that are defined. It sometimes scares me to even read about some of them. Fear of heights, people, spaces, socializing , rejection, failure …

Feeling of fear can arise due to various causes – changes, past experiences, influence from books, movies,  circumstances, helplessness,  lack of confidence etc.,

We usually get to hear these statements: “I cannot sleep alone in the night”, “I am afraid of taking up responsibility”, “I cannot take up this new job”, “ I cannot see my mother go through the surgery”…

As infants, are we aware of fear? Consider an infant trying to get down a bed … They never jump off the bed, instead they carefully slide their body taking support of the rim of the bed and comfortably make a landing. As we grow, we also let our fears grow, which may be innate or induced.

Fear can also be healthy and helpful. Fear is the underlying force of our lives that keeps us feeling “stuck” or “safe” as the case may be. Sometimes it has saved us from entering into dangerous situations and the other times it may have prevented us from pursuing something that could have been a life-changing opportunity.

Fear can keep us from boarding airplanes, making new acquaintances, falling in love, trying something new, asking for a raise in pay and the worst of all – may not let us fall asleep at times. 😀

Fear is not negative, but because of fear we start to think negatively and assume that we would suffer in the course of handling something.

Below are a few ways we can get comfortable with our fears and behaviors that can be kept a watch on

  • Accept fear: The situation and the circumstances may or may not be known,  but we have to face it. Accepting that we have fear would help us find better ways of overcoming it.
  • Analyse: Analyse  fears, they may belong to any category, less or more intensive. Once we analyse what kind of activities are causing fear, it would he relatively simple to handle them
  • Trust yourself : Often, more than the task, we are worried about the results. “If I fail to do the presentation, I have to face my boss and he would be angry at me ” , “If I fail to score well, my parents would be unhappy with me”. With the fear of facing the consequences, we may not be giving our 100% to the task itself. We need to believe in our self.
  • The Now: You are in the present and the future has not occurred yet. Something has happened in the past may not happen again, it’s only our imagination that it would. You are still in the position to shape the future into whatever outcome you desire -, Now
  • Control your thoughtsDoing this is the toughest, I agree. But keeping an eye on our negative thoughts – I can’t, never-ever  – these shall be put a full stop to.
  • Childhood fears: Children, they are like wet clay ready to be molded from what they hear or learn. Adults shall not make negative statements or create fears, usually fears that are created in childhood last for long. Stop breeding fear into children’s thoughts by threatening or scolding.
  • Ruling out: Never rule out anyone’s fear. You may basically be saying they are stupid and you don’t respect what they are going through. Instead provide your support to understand and offer help where they need it.
  • Procrastinating : Wondering, how this made into this list ? I am not talking about being lazy type procrastination.. We always postpone doing things where we have a lot of unknowns, basically fear of. Attack the task that challenges you the most, first.

Fear limits your full potential and takes a lot of energy on which isn’t even guaranteed to happen. Fear cautions us and gives us a heads up to prepare ourselves better for the challenge ahead. Let’s not let fear limit our dreams. Attempting to do something that we are fearful of itself is winning over fear.

Try coming out of your fears and conquer the world of your dreams with a new ‘YOU’