Sunday, December 14, 2014

Don't fear the fear, rise above!

True to the famous Tamil proverb "Ilam kandru bayam ariyadhu" (A young calf knows no fear), I was fearless as a kid. I remember jumping around and playing in the terrace without being afraid of height or the fear of falling down and getting hurt. When people say ignorance is bliss, maybe this is what they meant. It is always good to know the impact of what we do but sometimes not knowing the impact helps in keeping away the sheer fear of approaching the task we intend to do. When we start realizing the impacts more and more, we start fearing the negative impacts it might bring! This is probably what happened to me after hearing more and more from elders about heights, the 'potential possibility' of falling down and the pain it could bring. Thus started my slow and steady journey towards the fear of heights known as 'Acrophobia'!

I realize now, how this entire bad picture about height was a false picture that was slowly 'fed into my mind' without any traumatic experience on my own. Without my fault, I was suffering from it already! A simple act of standing in the balcony and looking down was causing tension and unnecessary panic. At certain stage, I even remember consciously avoiding trips to amusement parks, more specifically roller coaster or giant wheel rides for the same reason! Basically a lot of things that was meant to be for fun appeared as a sign of terror! :)

Down the line I realized how this 'induced' fear was causing unnecessary panic, anxiety and tension whenever height was involved. I wanted a change, a desperate positive change in me that will put me back in time and completely remove that fear of height from inside. Thus began my journey confronting the fear of heights!!

 First and foremost step I followed was to cheat my own mind. It was very tough initially but closing my eyes which was framing the mental picture helped. Slowly I would tell to myself, "I am safe, I will not fall until the whole building falls"! It definitely helped in keeping myself relaxed in the situation. In due course, I was able to sit and relax in the balcony, watching people and the activity downstairs :)

 When I realized the panic has reduced gradually, it was about time to face the fear with full force. In the mid of last decade, during my trip to Manali with friends, I decided to do para-gliding at Solang valley. A guided para-gliding is a sure shot remedy for the fear of heights. It takes you to extreme heights but the guarantee there is a 'trained someone' to save you from fall relaxes the brain, lets you enjoy the activity and finally overcome the fear! Initially the jump from a 6000 ft cliff looked like a suicide attempt but in no time my mind was able to adjust to the height and I was comfortably enjoying the flight. It was my first major 'guided' attempt in kicking off my fear for heights. Did it work, yes, without doubts definitely!

Then developed my interest for trekking in the Himalayas. I went on a beginners trek to the beautiful 'Valley of Flowers' in Uttarakhand Himalayas at 12,000 ft, a couple of years later! With friends around, no height is a problem! I was able to negotiate the cliffs and the vertical drop-offs much comfortably without shaky legs. It gave me my much needed confidence that I can tackle the heights all by myself. Believe me, an year after that I even trekked to the base camp of Mt. Everest at 19,000 ft and enjoyed the beautiful sight of Sun rising from behind the majestic Mt. Everest, sitting on the summit of Mt. Kalapathar on a cold winter morning!! :)

Thinking about all of it, the only thing that made it all possible was my desperate wish to get rid of my fear! No doubts the change did not happen overnight. It was certainly tough. I could've easily given up anytime but I guess the positive attitude towards change and the ability to cheat my own mind really helped in getting rid of my fear for heights! It proved unlearning and relearning things is the way to go. Now I don't fear heights anymore!!

Famous soft drink manufacturer 'Mountain Dew' [] is known for producing some of the best inspirational TV commercials in India promoting the point - 'Darr se mat daro, darr ke aage jeet hai!' (Don't fear the Fear, beyond the Fear lies victory!).

Their latest TV commercial in Tamil featuring actor Arya shows the actor setting out on an adventure to find the rare Kurinji flowers in a valley deep in the mountains. Set with the perfect background score of "Achamillai, Achamillai, accham enbadhillaye", written by famous Tamil poet Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar, it has all the elements that accentuates the point, "Overcome your fear, take risks and reach the summit (goal)!". Watch the AD for yourself and feel the pump!!

And so, last but not the least

I am proud of myself I chose to face the fear and Rise instead of Running showing my back!! What about you? :)

 PS: This blog post was written as part of IndiBogger topic "Rise above fear!"

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