Each one of us, without exception, goes through highs and lows in life . Life therefore is like a Sinusoidal wave which has ups and downs at regular intervals. Each high is followed by a low and each low is followed by a high. But the point to be understood is that in life the “the lows” can be very profound at times and one has to wait patiently and work with full confidence and strength to overcome the “low” phase and keep reminding himself/herself “this shall also pass”; and “you have not lost until you give up”.
We all have some fears, anxieties, depressions, and negativities in life. Trust me, more than 90% of these conditions are baseless, unfounded and are only due to our thought process or “over thinking” and predicting the future with complete negative mindset.
They say “ Overthinking is the biggest cause of unhappiness.”
Let me narrate a couple of my fears/anxieties which I have gone through in life and finally overcame them and never to looked back.
I realized that I had a fear of Flying rather a phobia associated with air travel when I was a little over 21 yrs of age and was asked to travel by air for an official assignment within a year of my joining the company. I had never travelled by air before that. I was posted in Delhi and had to travel to Bhopal which could have been easily done by overnight journey by train also. But my Director insisted that I must travel by the morning flight and return by the next day afternoon flight. Panic gripped me immediately on hearing the instructions from the Boss. I just could not digest the idea of travelling by air I told the Director that I could manage to travel by train both ways without any issue but somehow could not tell the truth of my fobia of flying, as I presumed all my colleagues would make fun of me ! The Boss did not pay any attention to my suggestions and was firm on his decision of my travelling by air not having any inkling that I was shivering inside !!
Anyways, I prepared myself for the early morning flight and reached the airport around 6 am. My parents had come along to see me off at the airport ( after all it was the first time their only son was taking his maiden flight ). I was the last person to go up the ladder and reach the entrance of the aircraft , I turned back and waived to my parents who were waiting in the balcony of the airport main building.
Immediately the air hostesses started closing all the door firmly and gave safety related instructions about the do’s and dont’s in case of emergency landing, landing on water and air pressure falling etc . These instructions multiplied my fears by several times . All the crew members appeared “Agents of the Yamdoot”, who were all conspiring to kill me.
I had a feeling that this was going to be my first and last air travel. Little did I realize at that point of time that it was only the beginning and I would actually have several hundred ( if not thousands) air travels thereafter in the coming years !
Within a few minutes , the aircraft took off with a roar . Needless to say, my eyes were closed and I was repeatedly chanting the first two lines of “Hanuman Chalisa” ( I dint remember more). After a few minutes the plane reached cruising altitude and some calm prevailed inside me. But it was short lived ! Suddenly, we were passing through some turbulence and the small aircraft( it was a 36 seater Fokker friendship plane) was suddenly losing a few thousand feet of height and again lifting up the process remained for a few minutes and I was telling myself that the worst fears were coming true !
Somehow, the journey of one hour ( which looked like several hundred hours ) came to an end and the aircraft landed safely at Bhopal. It felt like getting a fresh lease of life !!
Years passed by but everytime I had to travel by air, I had sleepless nights a few days before the scheduled journey. Situation was similar to the first flight every time.
But I never quit the job, I never stopped flying .
Then I realized one day that I need to talk to someone about this and overcome this fear or else I could not pursue my professional carrier smoothly, which involved a lot of domestic travel and occasional international travel too.
I started talking to my closest friends. One of them suggested I must down a couple of glasses of “Beer” before every take off, another suggested I must take some sleeping pills, one hour before every take off and so on……..
Somehow I knew, all this is not going to help and these measures are like temporary pain killers and not the cure of the disease.
One day I started this topic with one of my roommates Vijayraghawan (four of us were sharing a flat in Hyderabad those days , all bachelors of course). At first he laughed but when I explained him the seriousness of the issue, he asked me to sit down and made me understand some basic facts. He convinced me by statistics and otherwise that air mishaps were far fewer than road accidents and train accidents . He explained me in depth how many checks an aircraft goes through before it is cleared for take off . Also , the alternative plans are always in place in case of a trouble and there are always two pilots ( one co-pilot) in the aircraft and are continuously guided and controlled by most sophisticated Air Control Tower at the ground . He explained all this and much more in great detail and fully convinced me that I must not have any apprehensions about the safety of air travel at all.
Somehow Vijayraghawan’s talks worked like a major surgery which corrected the negative mindset and removed the basic fobia from my mind. Next time onwards, I decided to be absolutely normal while flying and keep my eyes fully open and catch the bull by its horns. Things worked well except for a little while during take off but after a few more flights I actually started enjoying the Air Travel .
Moral : you need to talk to people about your fears and anxieties. One day you will find that Mr/Ms right person and you are bound to overcome your problem.
Fear of public speaking is another issue which makes many people get shivers down their spine even if they have good knowledge of the subject and are extrovert by nature. I have seen people forgetting everything after they reach the stage even after the best of the preparation beforehand. Their trembling voice and nervous body language says it all.
Coming back to my own story on the subject ….Majority of the people in my life (except 2-3 very close friends) will never believe that I am an introvert , in fact a BORN INTROVERT, a very shy person deep inside especially when it comes to opposite gender. I never participated in any plays or debates in school/college and none of the educational Institutes where I studied was a co-ed. Although there was one girl in our engineering college against about 1200 boys !!
Though I was a good sportsman and pursued several Sports and competed at university level in Badminton. I made quite a few good friends in College but public speaking …..NO WAY, it was not my cup of tea .
After spending a number of years in various departments and having gained reasonable experience , the management of my company decided to post me to marketing department. I am not sure why but many of my seniors believed that I would be ideally suited for marketing. Little did I realize at that point of time that it would mean presentations to the top management, to govt. officials as well as to clients every now and then.
Within a month or two of my joining the marketing department , I was told that we were going to have our annual business meet wherein I would be required to make a presentation on all aspects of the business related to the product I was marketing
The nightmare started ! I was given about two weeks for preparation which appeared sufficient to put all the contents together, to understand the various aspects of my presentation and prepare all the slides (transparencies) for the Overhead Projector. BUT…. how to prepare for the first big public presentation to my top management including the CEO and about 100 partipants all experts in their own fields.
I rehersed the opening sentences several times whenever I was alone in washroom, at night while everyone was sleeping, as well as in the chartered bus on way to office and back. But as the day of the presentation drew nearer, my heartbeat and palpitations also got acceleration and nervousness reached its peak.
I literally started praying that I should fall sick. I was wishing it could be malaria, typhoid or any such fever which could save me from this public presentation but nothing of this sort happened and my prayers did not yield any positive results. I told myself that God was not kind to me as I was not doing prayers regularly in the past.
Now only 2-3 days remained and our flight tickets were booked from Delhi to Ahmedabad, as the venue of the annual business meet was a resort in “Mehsana” close to the city of Ahmedabad. Day and night I wished and prayed that something should happen and the event should be postponed/cancelled. But nothing untoward happened !!
Well the day of our departure arrived too soon and we were all on our way to Ahmedabad. Now this was the day , trust me, I started praying that the Aeroplane which was carrying us to Ahmedabad should CRASH so that I don’t have to make a big public presentation the next day.But this did not happen and unfortunately we landed safely !
Now it was the night before the presentation and I went to the room of my immediate senior colleague Mr Bhatia with a final request that he should make the presentation in my place. He understood my predicament but flatly refused to agree to my request and told me ‘One day it has to be the first time” so let that be tomorrow.
Then he gave me some very useful tips on public speaking and also assured me, if I get struck anywhere or could not find an answer to any question/query by anyone, he would stand up and support me. That was a big relief to me. But that was not enough. I knew Mr Bhatia was in the habit of going to the washroom very often in office. So I told him my apprehension that in case he goes to the washroom and I get into any awkward situation ?? He laughed ….paused… and then told me “ I assure you I will hold it and will not go to washroom till your presentation is over and that is my promise”. On the lighter side he hastened to add , if required, he would spill drop by drop on his seat if he had to answer the nature’s call but would not break his promise.
Finally, the next day morning , I was on the stage in front of 100+ seniors including the CEO on a no choice basis ! As I had practiced for several days, I spoke the first 3-4 sentences flawlessly looking in the direction of Mr Bhatia with a fake smile and before I could say anything on the first slide, The CEO asked me to stop ( my hear skipped a few beats) and said as he was from finance background and not with a technical background he asked me to explain the basics of the product about which I was to make the detailed presentation ( Circuit Breaker) and its types in two minutes only.
As I had learnt the basics of the product very clearly only a few days back , I explained him nicely in a little less than two minutes. He thanked me very much for the clarity with a nice smile and asked me to proceed further. This was the turning point of my public speaking .
I was appreciated right in the beginning by none other than my CEO. I gained loads of confidence and completed my presentation without any hiccups and answered practically all queries to everybody’s satisfaction There was a huge applause as I finished my presentation and I thanked everybody profusely and confidently.
That day onwards, there was no looking back. It became a routine to give public presentations at short notice. I believed that I became more professional with every presentation and the confidence grew by leaps and bounds over the years. Later, after a couple of years, I was told by my seniors that I was having the best presentation skills and a good public speaker !
Only thing I always told myself was YES I CAN DO IT !! And thereafter I always told all my juniors and staff members that if I could do it, anyone can do it !!
Basically, the fears we don’t face become our limits.
So let’s face the fears cross them and win the world. Don’t just sit over your fears or else you will remain where you are…. as someone said :
Mat ban tu us rahi jaisa, jo soche kab kya hoga
Ban tu us Insaan jaisa, jo soche , jo hoga achha hoga
Jo boenge wohi katenge, Yehi to Jag ki Reet hai,
Gyan Yehi hai Jeevan ka, Dar ke age Jeet hai……………!!