Kill that anxiety feeling before it consumes you

The feeling that we can’t live without something or someone is what makes us anxious and insecure. If we learn to deal with that feeling, we may even be able to live with any eventuality or outcome that we fear!

Yesterday a friend called to invite us for his daughter’s wedding. It was a special moment in his Life. His wife had committed suicide nine years ago. And he was left with two adolescent daughters to raise. So, when he called, the conversation touched upon how his girls had to cope with the loss of their mother and how difficult it was for him to explain to them why his wife chose to end her Life. “My wife was always insecure about our financial situation. Her fear that she cannot live without a steady income coming home each month is what drove her to depression and eventually suicide,” confessed my friend who is a self-employed professional.

It is often the fear of, or not knowing, what will happen that drives people to desperation. We are all gripped by this fear at some point or the other. None can escape it. The most effective way to deal with such a fear, with anxiety and insecurity, is to face them.

Instead of only asking ‘what if’ in any context, go ahead and answer that question. For instance, if you are facing uncertainty at work – meaning, if you fear a lay off – don’t just allow that ‘what will happen to me’ feeling to keep building up within you. Complete the scenario to the last detail – “I will sell my apartment or move to another city or leverage all my savings or whatever…I will survive a few months and then when I am totally broke, I will go live with my parents or brother or sister…and if they won’t have me, I will take up a small-time job and live within my means until I get the break that I will need to rebuild my Life and career.”

Play out the worst case scenarios, of whatever you fear, very granularly. You will be amazed how much you will benefit from such an exercise. For one, you will discover that whatever is the worst case per your imagination, accentuated by your fears, is not so bad after all. Your detailing that ‘what if’ script will reassure you that you can cope with any impending crisis. You will, over time,  also realize that the worst almost always never happens! And then you will further understand that all your anxiety and insecurity was such a waste of your time and energy!

Imagining the worst that can happen is not defeatist in any manner. It is the only way to kill feelings – like fear and anxiety – that may otherwise consume you. Your fears often blind you to your own resilience. Resultantly, you stop believing in your ability to face Life’s innumerable challenges. Looking your fears in the eye may not take any problem situation away. But it will most definitely help prepare you to meet that situation confidently when it arrives.

When you are IN(Life’s)SECURE(hands)…

The antidote to feeling insecure lies in the word itself! It lies in knowing and understanding that you__and I__and all of us are “in secure (hands)”!

The singular reason why we feel insecure about Life is because we associate security with all things material. Our conditioning is such. We have grown up taking several things for granted, including our own lives, that at the slightest hint of chaos, disruption or unpredictability, our minds dish out fear that breeds insecurity. The truth, however, is our lives have always been unpredictable. We naively, and perhaps foolishly as well, imagined that it was predictable __ simply because we have had money and a home to go back to! In reality, through all our (then unpredictable) past, even when we did not know it, we have been provided for, looked after by Life! So, in the same vein, when our lives go seemingly out of control, we must keep the faith that we will be provided for and looked after through the unpredictability that we now are fearfully aware of!

A friend recently shared his brother’s story. The gentleman had wound up a complete operation in the US, where he had been living for over 20 years, and migrated to India recently. He brought back with him $ 1.2 million in the hope that he could now do what he wanted and live ‘peacefully ever after’! He is only 42. Within a few months of returning to India and setting up an operation here, he was diagnosed with the fourth stage of a rare form of cancer that has affected his intestines and stomach. The doctors have given him less than a few months and have outlined the costs of even attempting a treatment, however hopeless, to be running into several hundreds of thousands of dollars. The family is petrified of losing him of course and is fearful of a Life after him. Why would any of them have even envisaged that a “perfectly designed and managed career and retirement plan” would be rendered so useless by Life? 

Each of us surely has a similar experience to share. Of a surprising, shocking twist to our lives. When Life simply ceased to be predictable.

At all such times, uncertainty and insecurity will, naturally, grip you. But this is not a time to be fearful. This is the time to detach yourself from the material world. This is when you must let go of the crutches of financial security and surrender yourself to Life. Through your surrender, you will awaken to an immense sense of security. You will realize that all that you fear of losing are both impermanent and transient. You will feel liberated. You will discover that everything is as it should be. And that you are not only safe, that you are no longer insecure, but are in fact, happier than ever before.

Fear cripples. Insecurity debilitates. Being ready to lose whatever you fear losing liberates you and reassures you that Life is at work on you, for you, and that you will be taken care of, just as the way you have been so far!

Wear your Life on your sleeve

Don’t fear being vulnerable. Be true. When you are true, primarily to yourself and then to whatever you believe in, then you need no defense. And nothing, no one, can touch you!

Often times in Life, we fear that people will exploit us. That they will want to “use” our vulnerability to their advantage. While conceptually, in a world where everyone is fighting to win at the cost of someone else, this may appear to be true, in reality this is hardly so. The world is not infested with blood and flesh thirsty sharks and vultures as we imagine. But is inhabited by perfectly normal, compassionate, beautiful, loving people__just like you and me. So, when you wear your Life on your sleeve, when you expose your stark vulnerability, you will discover how kind people really are.

I have often found that saying things as they are, the truth, always helps. It may lead to people drawing different meanings from what you say. But Life is not about inferences and interpretations. Because when you bring in either inference or interpretation, then you are bringing in logic. And there’s no logic to and in Life. Life is about experiences. And people are going through experiences similar to yours, or they have already been there, all the time.

When you are vulnerable, you are willing to face Life. And face the consequences. Even death perhaps. When you are in that state, you are never insecure. Insecurity comes when you fear that you will lose something __ your position, your status, your title, your wealth, your reputation or your Life. At times, you may fear losing someone. But if you are past that fear, then your vulnerability is an asset, never a liability. Of course, chances are that there may be a few exploiters who will step into the ring. But face them. When you look them in the eye, they will step back. Exploitation cannot stand the brilliant gaze of truth. Exploiters can never face the courageous. When someone whose weapon is fear, recognizes you are fearless, then he or she becomes fearful. This is how Life works!

Try this in any situation you are faced with currently. Whatever you have wanted to say or do, if you have held it back because you thought of yourself as becoming vulnerable, go do exactly that now. Watch what happens. How much ever you may think it to be potentially disadvantageous, you will always find that your being true leads the world around you to be true as well. Remember this: you cannot live in fear, you can merely exist. To live fully, you have to wear your Life on your sleeve.

Face your fears and spare yourself the suffering

What we fear the most also always causes our suffering. The simplest way to overcome fear is to allow it to possess you. Don’t hate it. Don’t run away from it. Just let it take over. When fear takes control, your physical being will be impacted, possibly your mind too will be affected, but your inner core, your soul will be unmoved, undisturbed. Through the awareness of this state, through realizing that your soul is impregnable, that nothing can affect the real ‘you’, you will transcend fear. You will find joy!

We all fear different things. At different times. From people to events to thoughts to memories to outcomes to conversations __ we fear a lot. We work overtime to avoid fear. And the more we avoid it, the more we are tormented by it. Instead overpower your worst fears by facing up to them.

For example, it is possible that you have been avoiding a difficult conversation because you know that nasty sentiments will be expressed and you don’t want it. As long as you don’t have that conversation and keep avoiding it, it will keep dominating your thinking. The fear will chew you up. Instead let the conversation happen. Allow yourself to be in total fear when the conversation happens. No problem. But through that fear you will actually discover that you have transcended it. That you have had the strength to face it, overcome and overpower it. It is almost magical. Possibly, your situation may be even more grave. One that may involve a physical conflict perhaps. Or one of dealing with a dominating opponent. Maybe you fear losing your job or even your Life. Again, interestingly, the same logic applies. Be fearful. But don’t run. Turn and face whoever, whatever is the source of your fear. Look the fear-causing source in the eye. And watch how your fear slowly leads you to an awareness, to an awakening that makes you connect with your inner core, your true Self.

Osho, the Master, describes this the best: “Only one thing is to be understood: when you allow fear and you tremble — watch it, enjoy it; and in that watching you will transcend it, you will see the body is trembling, you will see the mind is trembling, but you will come to feel a point within you, a deep center, which remains unaffected. The storm passes by, but somewhere deep within you is a center which is untouched: the center of the cyclone.”

Living in fear and suffering is meaningless. We have to learn to take the bull by the horns. The only thing that can erase fear is the act of facing up to it. Fear is a good chaser. It likes to gnaw at your heels but can never look you in the eye. So, face your fears today. And watch your suffering fade away. Facing fear may not end the pain. But it will surely spare you the suffering!