On a pleasant Monday morning during the 2016 Diwali vacations, I was flipping dosas. My curious daughter asked , “Mumma aren’t you afraid of fire?”
Surprised by her question I replied, “No, fire is so useful to us, why should I be afraid of it.”
“But fire is dangerous also, it can burn you, isn’t it? Were you afraid of fire when you were a child?” she continued.
“Yes I was, but it was when I was very young. As I grew up I realised if I was cautious, fire cannot harm me. And there is first aid available, always.” I replied.
She thought for a while and asked, “If you are not scared of fire, then why are you so scared of riding a scooter?” My daughter had nailed it. ‘Why was I scared of riding the scooter?’ a question that I kept asking myself since last 24 years. “It’s not the fear of riding a scooter…it’s just that what if I fall?” I mumble.
“So what mumma, first aid is there, always, isn’t it? She replied and hopped away to play with her Barbie doll.
There’s something so confusing about fear. While I trekked the Raigad hills and did Rappelling from the Takmak Tok, the highest peak in Raigad, did parasailing and paragliding, rock climbing and valley crossing….but the mere mention of riding a scooter, frightened me. And the worst part was that my daughter was observing my fear. “If you are not scared of fire, then why are you so scared of riding a scooter?” her words echoed and that’s when I decided to observe the inner narrative that was influencing my fear.
I guess I was 8 years old when I fell off while riding a bicycle and got badly injured. I remember my Appa yelling at me for being careless and his comments hurt me more than the physical pain. “You can never learn to ride a cycle. You’re so careless. You can never do it.” From that day I never sat on a cycle and never learnt to ride one. When my husband brought our scooter in 2011, I panicked as I sat behind him muttering Hanuman Chalisa. Every time I saw women riding a scooter confidently, I wished, prayed and hoped that someday I too overcame my fear, but I couldn’t.
However, the conversation with my daughter shifted something within me. For the first time I wanted to face my fear, not for myself but for my daughter. I wanted to show her that there are some things in life which may scare us, but at the end our fears cannot define us. I committed to ride the scooter just 5 minutes a day. Every evening after Swapnil returned from office, I sat on the scooter. I observed how fear overpowered me, my palms started sweating and my breathing became shallow. Just then I heard her voice, “Mumma, common, you can do it. I want to ride on the scooter with you. I want you to take me to the park, mall and drop me to the school. Go mumma, go” she encouraged.
I took a deep breath in and started the scooter, slowly I accelerated…the scooter moved, I lost the balance and my hubby held me. I shivered, people on the road watched us. I wondered what each of them thought.
“Stop looking at them and focus on the road” instructed Swapnil.
I continued….took a deep breath in and accelerated again. The scooter moved…and just then an image of myself lying in a pool of blood on the road appeared in front of me. I froze. That’s when I realized, this time my inner narrative wasn’t a voice, but an image. It was a 3D colourful and focused image, where I saw myself lying on the road. I had to do something about this image…but I couldn’t. I felt helpless.
That night before going to sleep my daughter hugged me and said, “Mumma you were good…tomorrow you will be better and soon you’ll become best and ride the scooter.” I loved the way she used the ‘Degrees of Comparison’ that I had taught her and wondered how easily she knew to comfort me.
The next few days, the same routine continued, but my daughter encouraged me and that kept me going.
Finally two days before Diwali, I thought to myself, if a naturally occurring image can disturb me so much, then what if I create an image that instils confidence in me. I visualized a 3D, colourful, bright and focused image of Samruddhi and me riding on the scooter. She loves Fascino, so I saw the image of a Cyan Blue Fascino. I saw myself comfortably riding the scooter and dropping my daughter to her drawing class, dance class and school. Slowly this image became a short video with a panoramic view of all the things around me. I started feeling better.
That evening when I went to ride the scooter, the old 3D image tried to disturb me, but I consciously pushed it aside and brought this video of comfort in front of me. I played it again and again till the time my anxiety dropped and my breathing became normal. It took me an hour to relax….but when I was done, I sensed a warmth of confidence wrap me. I took a deep breath in and accelerated…the scooter moved…I lost my balance, but this time, I didn’t fall, I learnt to balance the handle and started riding the scooter.
That’s about fear…it may hold you in its grip until you decide to break off. When you step in and observe the inner narrative that influences fear, you may realise that it’s just an image or a voice that is limiting you and chaining you to the fear. Once we learn to push that image and shut that voice, we can overcome any fear, easily.
You can read my previous posts in this series of Rewriting your Inner Narrative (the stories we tell ourselves)- here
- Decoding the Inner Narrative
- Rewriting your Inner Narrative
- Reader’s Question- #1
- Weight Loss and Inner Narrative
Have you ever faced fear? Have you overcome any fear? If yes, how did you do it? How did it feel after you did the thing that you feared? How did it transform you and help you grow? Share your stories in the comments . I’m here, listening to you.
I hope 2017 blesses each one of us with more courage so we can live our life, fearlessly and fully!
Love and gratitude,