I could never imagine life without my father. I thought the death of him has to be the death of me too. That was my constant prayer ever since I was a little kid. But one day, he died. It has been 5 years now. And I am still living. Happy during happy times, and sad during sad times. I miss him. But it isn’t as bad as I thought. Some of my friends who are/were on the verge of losing one of their parents, asked me how will it be – will they be able to deal with it? At that time, I told them it is tough, but you’ll make it through. But now I have a better response – it will be tough initially, but it will never ever be as bad as you are imagining it. You will get through. That I can assure you!
My mother too, always prayed that she should leave the planet, before my father. She was his shadow – completely dependent and did not ever step out of the house without him. Not even to meet her own family. Not that she couldn’t. Not that my father wouldn’t encourage too. She just didn’t. There was never any necessity according to her. Dad tried several times to explain the workings of the phone or a passbook or a bank statement. But she never got any of it. Now that Dad is no more, she travels internationally on her own, goes to the bank on her own, takes care of many things on her own. And she’s happy too in happy times, and sad during sad times. Most people around us too feared what will happen to my Mom after my Dad. But she has literally taken everyone by surprise. She started learning how to paint and now she’s an artist – something that no one ever imagined. So, here too- our fears were worse than reality. The reality was much better.
As humans, we often kid ourselves to think, “if this doesn’t happen, I can’t take it”, “if she rejects me, I am going to die”, “if I lose this, that’s the end of me”, “if I don’t do well, I will be ashamed” and so on and so forth. But the strange news is – no matter what happens – we find ways to survive and it is never as bad as we feared.
The only place where we get hit hard is when we never feared it at all and it happens. When we never ever dreamt that something like that would happen, and it does. When life catches us by surprise, or shock rather, that’s when we find it most hard to deal with – like a mother losing her baby within the first few years suddenly, or losing someone in an accident, etc – but even in those cases, it is the suddenness that hits us the most initially. We still get used to living without them and resume our life eventually.
When you look at your younger pictures, did you ever imagine you’ll look like this today? But over time, you got used to it. You had better hair, better eyes and what not – but you are used to being what you are now. My first few grey hairs were painful to watch. Now I have so many, that it’s all the same now. I never bother counting. For a person who’s losing hair, the initial years of hair loss are painful. After a point, they get used to it. Some even start liking their new look or find better alternatives to it. Basically, there’s no giving up! We find ways to get used to things no matter how hard they are initially. Or we find better alternatives.
The first point I am trying to make is, no matter what your fears are – just know that they are often a tad more horrifying than actual realities. Secondly, we always seem to find a way of dealing with things. So, trust yourself and trust that life will show you ways to deal with whatever happens! Even the ones who are fearful of death, eventually start wishing for it at some point in time.
If you have the fear of rejection, remember, you have been rejected before too – but you made it past that and got here! So, it’s okay if you see some more of it. It won’t kill you!
If you have the fear of failure, remember, you are one step closer to figuring out how to succeed. You have the experience now and you gave it a shot instead of sitting on the fence.
If you have the fear of losing someone, remember, we all love and we all lose the ones we love, but we have all survived that.
If you have the fear of upsetting someone, remember, no one can hold on to any memory or any emotion for a lifetime. Either they will let you back into their life, or you will lose the intensity of the need to be a part of theirs.
If you have the fear of people judging you, remember, someone or the other is judging you every moment, but it isn’t affecting you. Neither will the next judgment. You are not even aware of all the judgments made on earth about you so far. Just by knowing it, you won’t perish. You’ll get past that too, no matter how upsetting. Besides, you fearing their rejection, won’t make them accept you any better. So, it’s a waste of valuable energy going in that direction.
The exception to all this are suicides – where they perhaps were so gripped by fear that they did not wait to see another day to find a way out. They gave up because their fear was too strong. They thought so much of the fear and the fear alone, that they didn’t have time to think of much else. If any of you ever find yourself in one of those situations, reach out for help. Talk to someone – clear your mind. Every thought, every emotion, every feeling is a cloud – no matter how strong or how dark, it too shall pass. It just has to and it will. If you yourself are not permanent, how can emotion be? We just have to wait. If you are tired of waiting, just get off the driver’s seat for a while and seek help. If you actively seek – there is really nothing that you can’t find in this world. There are so many good people, trust me help will be on its way the minute you start looking for it. So, just look for it. It lies at a place a little beyond where your fear is. All you have to do is stretch yourself to look a little beyond. Remember – nothing is ever as bad as your fear of it!
Thirdly, and most importantly, don’t try to conquer your fears. Don’t try to remove your fears. Don’t try to do anything with them. Just notice them – don’t own them. They aren’t yours actually. They are just the running monkey business of your mind. So, don’t identify yourself with them. Notice them and allow them to pass through. Don’t hold on to them and hug them and cry with them and do all that melodrama. The more you pay attention to your fears and try to deal with them, the more they seem to grow in their size and stature. Even trying to ignore fears is giving it some importance. Imagine someone says, “Don’t think of a monkey! Don’t think of its brown tail”. Of course, you’ll now think of a monkey and then divert your mind to some donkey or something else. It’s twice the effort. So, don’t try to ignore it. Look at it as a stranger. Be amused with it. You are driving, and you have a fear of hitting someone – notice it for one moment. That’s it. Don’t go on a romantic date with it. It’s like how you notice traffic signals on your way. You don’t stop and romance with them or psychoanalyse the colours. You notice and you go past. The next moment think of what you want, imagine how you will enjoy driving and how you feel independent and like an achiever driving away to glory. Imagine driving is like walking, only with additional wheels to make it easier. Keep steering your attention towards what you want. That’s it!
Monkey business doesn’t deserve all that importance. So, give your fears the royal boot! (Just to clarify – giving the royal boot means ending the relationship with it – not giving it royal footwear).