When calamity strikes, we react emotionally and give way to self-pity. This brings haunting fears which pervade thought and action. It poisons the wellsprings of present joy and future happiness. It is a destructive emotion. It parches your outlook, paralyses your capabilities, puts off your accomplishments, prohibits excellence and prevents growth.
Losing part of her leg in an accident at the peak of her dancing career couldn’t hold back actress and dancer Sudha Chandran’s determination and passion for dancing. After the amputation of her right leg, she got a prosthetic Jaipur foot; she started dancing again and performed on stage. This bagged her chance to act and depict her own real-life story in the movies — Mayuri in Telegu and the Hindi version of it Naache Mayuri. She is a dazzling example of a winning spirit against adverse situations.
Change your thinking. T.A. Williams says, “To rectify the distortions which fear creates, introspection is absolutely essential.” Think right and you will find a way out. It is not what befalls you that matters but how you react to it. There are millions of people who have gone under the steamroller of fate. But there are others who, despite repeated blows, have stuck to their guns. They have mastered the art of rolling with the blows. They stagger but they do get up. Learn from them.
Healthy thinking does not kill anyone. It is anxiety which does that. It is not the movement that destroys the machine, it is the friction. Why do depressing and anxious thoughts come back again and again? The reason is that we have locked them into our minds. We also do not purge our memory of the unsavory experiences of the past.
The burdens of anxiety are, in fact, skeletons which tumble out of the memory cupboard at the press of an invisible magic button. If you suffer from this syndrome, shed the notion that you are the victim of circumstances. You are the centre of your own equilibrium. Failure to realize it makes you as ineffective and without will as the weathervane which is swayed by the slightest wind. Tell yourself, “I am not the flotsam and jetsam of ideas. I am the product of my own sculpting.” Look at the lives of those who, despite the heaviest odds and physical handicaps, have achieved success. They have converted regrets into rewards.
Louis Pasteur’s work was accomplished under the most heartbreaking circumstances. At the age of 46 he had suffered a paralytic stroke which handicapped him for the rest of his life. Yet, he achieved a titanic success.
Charles Darwin was plagued by ill-health all his life. He had never known a single day of perfect health. Look at the prodigious volumes of work he produced. “While man sits on the cushions of advantages, he goes to sleep. When pushed, tormented, defeated, he has the chance to learn something. He has been put to his wits, on his manhood, he has gained facts, learnt about his ignorance, it cured the insanity of conceit, has got moderation and real skill,” Emerson said.
Santon Kirkham, who wrote a great book, Shut In while he was confined to bed for more than 26 years says, “As the most barren regions of earth yield something to the botanist and geologist, the most desolate aspects of life are not wholly without interest to the philosopher.”
Beethoven suffered from deafness. He could not hear the melodies he composed. He says in exasperation, “If I were only rid of this affliction, I would embrace the world. No I cannot endure it, I will seize fate by the throat.”
Those who successfully surmount handicaps seize them by the throat. So can you.
Traumatic experiences, failure at work, unsuccessful relationships, insecurities, inferiority complexes, tend to haunt one throughout life, sometimes assuming proportions of a devastating nature.
You find your fingers pulling at your hair. You find yourself pacing up and down your room like a caged animal. You are in a foul mood. You are haunted by a vague feeling of impending doom. Such things happen to all of us. Only situations differ and so does the intensity of the reaction.
10 helpful hints
- When you torment yourself with imaginary fears, reverses and setbacks, you write your epitaph.
- Move on. Don’t yield to self-pity. Acting like a victim threatens your future happiness.
- Eliminate the negative with two simple resolves: ‘I can’ and ‘I will’.
- You carry your worst enemy within yourself. Defeat it.
- Those who live in mental cocoons seldom grow to their full potential.
- Dwell not on gloom. Give up crippling thoughts. Replace them with cheerful ones.
- Your shadow looks menacing when it precedes you, but means nothing when it follows you.
- Self-pity is emotional poison. Purge your thinking of it.
- Don’t think that other people will be as sorry for you as you are for yourself. They may laugh at you.
- Don’t think it is somebody else’s job to get you out of your mess. Do it yourself.
When an earthquake shakes the entrails of the oceans, then a tsunami rocks the waters above and devastates the topography of the earth near it. The best way to control a tsunami would thus be not an exterior effort but peace in the depths of the ocean.
Our health also works on the same principle. If the mind is full of tension, and conflict or commotion, discomfort or ill health can affect the whole body. All the parts of the body that are weak can then succumb to the onslaught of the mental upheaval.
While this doesn’t apply to all illnesses, there are many diseases that have their origins in a mind that is not at peace.
Doctors often say that a disease is psychological and the patient resents it because the sickness is causing pain and it is hard to accept that their own minds are responsible for the pain.
For instance, headaches, especially migraines, are often created by the mind. Tensions, worries and conflicts often cause severe health problems like depression, insomnia and ulcers. High blood pressure and cardiac problems are often related to the hyper reaction to happenings in one’s life. Some people become compulsive eaters to quieten their over – wrought brains and may end up having stomach disorders or obesity.
It is common sense to understand this dependence of the body on the mind. The centers of the body are in the brain. When the brain is not in a healthy and tranquil state, then all the nerves, cells and tissues that it controls will also be upset and so become liable to become ill and unhealthy causing illnesses and diseases. So it is essential to keep the mind at peace. There are many ways to keep the mind at peace.
Accept that life will have problems: When people are young, it is usual to have a rose-tinted vision that everything will be hunky dory and they will never have a problem in life. They believe that they will always win and be able to solve all the problems that come before them.
This attitude often leads to later disillusionment. It is better to accept that life will have problems which will at times hurt and even embarrass or humiliate. Being ready for all this acts like a sponge and the mind is not too affected when some disastrous happening occurs.
Don’t expect anything from anyone: Human relationships are the causes of many a mental upset. The lack of a pleasant relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, lop-sided marital relationships, the growing insecurity of live-in relationships where people can just walk out of relationships with out a pang – there are umpteen causes for mental insecurity that can result in mental conflict that can cause physical problems. The best would be not to expect that every human being will be true and genuine.
Negative emotions are enemies of peace: A person should also try to control his negative attitude and always try to be positive. This also includes that one should criticize less and praise more. Emotions like jealousy and envy can upset many a mind and then many a family, especially if the family is a joint one. A positive attitude is always creative rather than destructive and is the best way to keep the mind healthy and then naturally the body will not be affected by ‘emotional atyachar’.
Avoid anger: It is an emotion which not only distorts the face but also distorts the mental make-up of a person. It can not only be hurtful to the object of the anger but the angry persons themselves can hurt them – selves with high blood pressure and associated problems. It is best to breathe deeply and try to curb anger by delaying the response. Then painful utterances will be avoided, hypertension cases will be reduced and so relationships maintained.
Donʼt fear: It can be devastating. Fear can make the mind so weak that everything becomes a problem and when the brain seems unable to face the situation, then the body caves in. Fears can be tackled by people themselves by grit and guts but if they are unable to do so, then they can take the help of a person who cares for them. Facing fear includes that people should be even ready for failure. They should not expect to always win because of the fear of failure and the consequent humiliation.
At times you cannot control your actions, but you can control your reactions: There are two things that can be in front of you, chance or choice. Elder people will often maintain that there is something like chance that is fate or destiny. Others believe that life is molded out of our choices. Whatever it is, it is on us human beings how we deal with an event. Whether we get hyper and rant and rave or we remain calm and composed, it is our choice. Even if the actions of other human beings or destiny are not in our control, how we react to them is in our control. So one can learn to be calm even in the face of adversity. The affected people can see the problem and consider what they can do and make their best efforts. After that they can accept whatever follows knowing that the result is not in their hands rather than fluctuating between hope and despair and becoming a nervous wreck in the bargain.
Do your duty and then leave it to take what shape it can: So people should learn to try their best but then let the events unfold because there are others also who are pitted against you. For example, a student studies very well for an examination, but no one can guarantee the result. Other students have studied also and the result will be decided by who understood the question the best and answered with the most relevance.
Believe that what will happen will be for your own good: So, after making efforts, the best thing is to let the result happen and life takes its course if it is beyond control.
Have faith in yourself: One’s having faith in oneself helps a lot because if there is disappointment and failure, then the self-confidence will give courage to the person to go on trying. Courage is something that keeps the mind confident that it can face any situation. Then there will be less fear and more faith in the self to change the situation.
If a past decision goes bad, then remind yourself that at that, given the time, you did what was best: The human mind is often beset by regret, blame and guilt and that can impair the mental health of a person. It is best to think out objectively and logically before taking a decision. Then even afterwards if it proves to be wrong, stop feeling guilty by reminding yourself that in those circumstances, you took the best decision possible.
Live a life of routine with exercise and a nutritious diet: For a healthy mind, one must have a healthy body. Exercise keeps the muscles working and the heart healthy. The diet should also be nutritious and care should be taken that the balance in the body is maintained where vitamins, chemicals or minerals are concerned. Lack or surplus of sugar can cause problems. Sometimes a drop in health can also be due to lack of potassium in the body. It helps the mind to be healthy when the body is cared for because then life does not appear such a great struggle. Two people may suffer a similar set of painful circumstances. One may buckle, the other may survive. The healthier person has more chances of survival because of more physical endurance which would result in a more positive, optimistic, resolute and determined attitude than a sick person who could easily be depressed because his or her body is not in a fit condition or there is some pain that makes the problem seem more cumbersome.
Meditation helps: The mind can work best when it is quiet and still. Meditation helps in this by helping a person concentrate on something and quieten the brain from other things. Everyone cannot meditate. Then doing something with full concentration is also a form of meditation because the mind then focuses on one thing and is distracted from the points that give tension.
If you can’t help worrying, fix half an hour just to worry and then don’t let yourself worry. Just act. Think less: If the persons are not able to keep their minds still by meditation then they should not worry. There are some people who love to worry. So they can keep aside half an hour and worry as much as they can.
Do something that you like doing: The best way to distract oneself from worries is to do something one loves to do whether it is shifting the furniture in the house, watering the garden, reading, making a new thing, cooking, sleeping, whatever. What is necessary is that the thing being done should be something the person loves doing.
Remember that your mind is the slave of your will: At times one feels that one is not able to control the worrying but the fact is that the mind is a slave of the will. If people use their will-power they can command the mind to behave in a calmer manner. The most important strength in us stems from our will and everyone has it. Some use it, some just surrender without trying.
Learn to be objective and detached: The mind is healthier if it removes the layers of emotion, and subjective feelings and then just sees facts as they are. So it is very helpful if even sensitive and sentimental people start learning to be objective and detached. This can be done by just thinking of the facts of the case and not the feelings attached to the facts.
Make yourself believe that everything will be all right: When facing problems we are beset by misgivings and bad thoughts. A student thinks that he or she might fail and feels miserable. It would help more if he or she makes himself or herself believe that he or she will pass. Often, this makes the thing happen. If by chance it doesn’t, you still have saved yourself from hours of worry and the bad after- effects of worrying.
Take life as a challenge and get ready to take on the challenges head-on. The best is to get up in the morning, stretch and tell yourself, “Now is another day! Let me see what it brings. I am ready to face any challenge, good or bad.” This attitude will give you a readiness to expect adverse situations and make it easier to find the energy and courage to face them.
Don’t react without thinking. Think of the pros and cons and then react: Often, problems happen in human relationships whether at home or at office, where a person says something to be regretted later. The fact is that most people cannot think on the spur of the moment and say things that cause regret, remorse or guilt. Learn to talk to people with questions and suggestions.
Little knowledge is a dangerous thing: Often, life becomes very difficult because of half-baked information. A chance sentence like, “The boss is angry” can give a nervous worker palpitations, whereas when he or she actually goes to the office of the boss, he or she may have a pleasant meeting. This applies mostly to health. Don’t apply snippets you have heard to something that happens to your near and dear ones.