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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Zen and the Art of Fearlessness

To be fearless, just ask yourself ‘what is it that you are afraid of losing’?

At a Talk that I delivered recently, a young lady asked me how to deal with insecurity and fear. She said she often spent long spells of time imagining stuff that could possibly happen to her – a pink slip, a health setback, a relationship problem, her son failing in school and such.

“I know it is stupid to be this way. But how does one get rid of ‘worst-case scenarios’ from your head,” she asked.

I, in turn, asked her: “What is the worst that can happen to you?”

She thought for a moment and replied: “Two things – either my son can die or I can die. Yes, these are my worst-case scenarios.”

My next question to her was this: “Is there anything that you can do to prevent these scenarios from ever happening in your Life?”

Again she thought about it deeply and exclaimed: “No. Seriously, noooooooooooo!”

I asked her: “So why worry and fear about something that you can’t prevent?”

And that is really how you get rid of worst-case scenarios in your head. To be sure, the human mind can beat any Bollywood screenwriter in terms of conjuring up unheard of, unfathomable, often fantasy-based scenarios. Some of them will necessarily torment you with worry, anxiety, insecurity and fear. There is a pretty simple way to deal with these debilitating emotions.

In every situation that makes me fearful, I ask myself what is the worst that can happen. And I tell my mind that I am ready and willing for that eventuality. For instance, in a matter relating to a police complaint filed against me, by my creditor, it had become evident that if the court disallowed my bail application, I would be arrested and remanded in custody. I asked my lawyer if there was a way out. He said that there was none since I did not have money to furnish a personal surety (a financial bond). This situation was unfolding in another city. Honestly, I was feeling very restless and fearful. So, I took a deep breath and called up Vaani. I briefed her of the logical, practical reality we were faced with. And then I told her, “Listen, I will stay strong where I am and wherever I have to go. You stay strong too. A way will be born soon.” Just that acceptance of whatever our reality was at that moment – that I will be arrested, so be it! – changed the way I felt. I became fearless. In another situation, when I was diagnosed with a possible life-threatening health condition, I considered the worst that could happen to me if we didn’t find the money to get a surgery done. I would die, I reckoned. The whole scenario of my impending death unfolded in my mind’s eye and I actually started smiling. Of course, all of us will die, I remember thinking. “And this was perhaps my time to die,” I had concluded. That thought actually made me feel lighter – and totally fearless. From then on, whenever I am faced with any no-go situation – and I have to deal with several of them each week – I remind myself that “I was once even prepared to die”. Whenever I do this, my fear always slinks away.

An additional perspective: to me faith is not about deifying an idol or a place of worship. I implicitly trust the Higher Energy – some call this divinity – that shapes our ends and guides our lives. I know that I will – my family included – be provided for, taken care of and given whatever we need. To me my faith in myself, in Vaani, in this Higher Energy is the light that shows the way whenever the road ahead is dark and fearful. And I know, just as you do, that while light can drive away darkness, darkness can never drive away light! So, when there is faith, how can there ever be fear? 

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