Sunday, July 28, 2013

Beautiful Mind 11: Awesome, but afraid

Fear is a property that we acquire as we grow. It is a property that if left unchecked, can turn our lives upside down, and make us very unappreciative of ourselves. This will lead to losing confidence in ourselves and our abilities; confidence that is very essential for making our living in today's world.

I had the opportunity to think about where we begin to become fearful. Our external environment plays a very important role in cultivating fear in our minds, and while we are unaware, we are slowly acquiring fear of something in very small and "easily digestible" bits. Mind you, we might not even be appreciative that something like this is happening. But it does, until one day, it comes back with a degree and force that we perceive that we do not have the strength to face it.

Why do we let fear grow? It could just be the fear of the dark - I was afraid of the dark for a very long time. To overcome this, I began to turn off the lights and sit in a dark room every day for a while. Of course, the initial days were a bit scary; there were so many thoughts. Slowly, it became easier to sit in the dark for a while.

The most common fear that a majority of us might possess is that of loss. Fear of losing our way of life, our thinking abilities, people around us, materials that we have acquired, and what not. Why does this fear arise? It might arise in you for a different reason than it does for me. Some are afraid of losing what they have worked hard for, while others are afraid of the possibility of an alternate way of life. As I said, the reasons for fear to arise might be different, but fundamentally, fear is the same. That of loss.

You might have come across articles that advise confronting fear. I have no doubt in my mind that it is very relevant for us to confront. But, if we just confront and manage to overcome that fear, we still have other fears that might be completely unrelated to the first one and might still manage to overpower our senses. If we can play detective with our mind, think of the underlying reasons for the fear, we will definitely overcome fear and know exactly what induces fear in us.

Well, these fears aside, there is one more fear - something that becomes an inherent property in all of us. The fear of consequences to our actions, and more importantly facing these consequences and accepting that we are responsible for our actions. This is related to our ego, and our pathological desire to be right in everything we do. So, when it's time to make a decision, we often don't listen to what we really want to do, we end up outsourcing our decision making. It is okay to skip making a decision when you are feeling adventurous ordering food. But does it make sense to be fearful of consequences and skip making a decision altogether?

When we postpone making a decision or give up making a decision entirely over the fear of consequences, we are letting our fear win. We are telling our own mind that our ability to make a decision is limited and that further limits our ability - it's a chain of actions and consequences without us actually being aware of what it is. Finally, we begin to place our lives in others' hands, thereby living our lives based on judgments of others.

There are consequences to all our actions, big or small. Irrespective of what we do, what our actions are, there are consequences. If we just focus on that, and become afraid, we invite worry, anger and more fear in our lives, thereby doing everything else but living.

If there are things you're afraid of, focus a bit on why you are afraid of it, and that helps you appreciate the reasoning your mind has associated with the fear, thereby helping you overcome that fear and reducing the chances that you will be afraid of other things in life.

This is food for thought. It is my intention to make you think and understand - that you are able think and form your own opinions, and are capable of living a life without fear and one with a realization that you are indeed an awesome individual.

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