Life is NOT a Race

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We all have heard of the classic fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.

There’s a Running competition between a Tortoise and Hare, where Hare was exceptionally fast. But it was overconfident and takes a nap. And the Tortoise wins.

Okay, so, the story didn’t change in a while. What’s the purpose of this story?

Overconfidence can dump us. I think that’s what the writer of this story wanted to convey.

But, the Big Question is, why on earth are they in a race?

Not all Hares are overconfident, even if they are, who sleeps in the middle of a race? Like really. The story—if made honestly—should end up with hare as a winner. And that’s obvious.

Whenever I hear this story, I wonder what a fool is that Tortoise? If I was a Tortoise, I would rather hang out with some Turtles on the beach. But I wouldn’t run with a hare because I know I can’t win.

It’s not my disability. It’s just not my track.

Perhaps, the Tortoise also knew that it was a foolish idea to compete. I’m sure, what might have convinced it, are the other animals in that jungle.

Maybe a giraffe said, ‘Yes, you can do it. Do not underestimate.’

Maybe a wild pig said, ‘Don’t give up, run for it.’

Maybe a fox said, ‘It’s a shame if you can’t win.’

 

They aren’t motivating. They were fooling the Tortoise. Because, in the first case, the Race is Not meant for the Tortoise.

Somehow, it won and nobody talks about this.

 

A race is always between equals. A race is between two runners with equal caliber and equal strengths and equal flaws and equal lives.

And I bet nobody is equal here. We are all different.

Then why are we even competing?

 

Don’t be a Tortoise



We all are like that foolish Tortoise. But we may not be as fortunate as it was, to win the race.

We hear people around us, pushing us, comparing us, estimating our caliber. They want us to run with hares and prove.

Ask yourself, is that your track? If that is not, then why are you even running?

If I’m motivated to fly and compete with a bird, I think I can’t win. I’ll train myself in flapping my hands faster than a hummingbird, practice jumping from a building into the thin air. Can I fly?

Surprisingly, people call it a disability. And you start to believe in it. That’s even worse.

Don’t be a Tortoise. You will lose. (Life is not a fable).

 

Stop Running. Start Thinking.

 

Okay, you must be busy running for something and perhaps wishing this article ends soon without wasting much of your time. But, take a pause and Think.

  • What are you running for?
  • Is that your track or somebody’s?
  • Are you running because that’s what you wanted to do or Are you running to prove something to the animals around?

 

If yes, then you know the result. Right? You know it’s a futile effort, right? Then, why?

 

If you force an Egg, it becomes an Omelette. Not a chick.

 

Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you look like someone? No. And that’s what you are. Unique.

We are all unequal. We have unequal minds, unequal habits, unequal lifestyles, unequal problems and unequal faces. So, you cannot really go on a race with anyone.

Just because you are of the same age, it doesn’t mean you should be doing as your peers. Just because you are into the same stream, doesn’t mean you should be at the top. Nothing to compare!

But we do. And thus, force ourselves to become better than someone, to run faster than someone, and remember, that if you force an egg, it becomes an Omelette, not a chick. You’ll just screw yourself.

 

Be a Hare

Be a hare. And you’ll win. (Life is not a fable)

The hare was running on its own track. It’s doing what it was meant to do.

Your track is empty. There’s nobody on your way and there can be nobody. You have a path of your own. And what matters is not speed, but whether or not you’re sticking to your direction.

Move at your own pace. No hurry.

When you are tired, take a nap. (No, there’s no Tortoise behind).

Come back, and keep moving.

 

What’s Wrong?



There are two things wrong.

We’ll be a Tortoise and we listen to the animals around. They convince us to do something which we cannot win. And later make us feel like a failure.

We’ll focus on our speeds rather than direction. If you are on the right track, it doesn’t matter how slow you are, you will someday reach the end. But if you are on somebody’s track, running fast, even if you reach the end, you will lose, because that’s not your track.

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What is fear?

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Peeping under your bed at 2 a.m.

The day on your Exam-Results.

When your teacher calls you, “Come up on stage.”

That night after watching a Horror movie.

When your girlfriend texts, “We need to talk.”

When you learn about someone’s death.

 

Were these scary?

But I tell you that they are not—not at all.




Peeping under your bed at 2 a.m. is not scary, but the thought What if I find a corpse under my bed? is.

Your Exam-Results day isn’t scary, but the thought What if I fail? is.

What if I don’t speak and appear to be dumb in front of my classmates?

What if Annabelle pops out of my toilet seat when I’m in shower?

What if my girlfriend calls a Breakup?

Hearing about death reminds you that even you’ve to face it someday.

Are you getting it? There is something very significant about these examples. Fear isn’t in a situation. Fear is in the thought. Fear exists when you think What if…?

fears are stories we tell ourselves. what is fear?

 

Fear is everywhere. No.

Fear is only in your head. Nowhere else.

 

We often complain about our fears. I’m afraid of dogs…of insects…of death…of that…of this. But those are all objects and situations. The real fear is in your imagination. And these objects only act as triggers.

 

 

water balloon. what is fear?

 

WATER BALLOONS

 

Imagine our mind has a stock of water balloons, each representing a particular object or subject. Let it be a snake. We all are afraid of snakes. But when did that fear actually originate?

Maybe when we were 3 or 4 years old, we learned in school that snakes have poison in their teeth and we know poison kills.

Then, a little balloon called ‘snake’ is created in our minds. That balloon fills all the facts that relate to a snake. The first fact is that snakes are poisonous.

Then, you might have heard your granny narrating someone who died of a snake bite. You might have watched movies where a snake swallows humans. You might have read comics where a snake is a villain. And all these stuff just fill up the balloon. These are like water.

With time, your facts, stories increase. So the balloon swells with more and more water. It may not burst on its own (if that happens, it’s called a breakdown) but it will burst when something pricks.

More the water, more the tension in the balloon and easier it is to burst. There comes a day when you see a snake or hear its hiss. That’s a trigger. That’s a prick which pokes your balloon.

You know, all the water accumulated floods and that’s fear. The moment you hear its hiss, all those facts, stories and the emotions around the stories…everything floods.

 

what is fear

 

Fear is always there, but sleepy.

Fear is not an emotion which visits your mind occasionally. It’s something which is always there. The water is fear. The balloon simply holds it without spilling.

With every object and situations in life, new balloons will be created, and they are filled up, every hour, every day. As long as there’s no trigger, there’s no fear.

It’s not that fear comes out of nowhere. It’s always in your head, but sleepy. It’s waiting for an alarm to wake up.

Though there is a huge list of phobias, according to Dr. Karl Albrecht, there are (only) five basic fears.




  • Extinction: (What if I die now reading this line?)

We all know that we aren’t living forever. This is the fear creeping out of the question, “What if I cease to exist?” To be straight, it’s the fear of death. It’s the existential anxiety which is very common and the root of a million phobias.

  • Mutilation: (What if I’m bit by a snake?)

We are concerned about our health and body. This is the fear subjected to biological safety. It’s the fear of invasion of some external thing (animals, bacteria or whatever) which affects our body.

  • Loss of Autonomy: (What if I’m caught by the police?)

It’s the fear of being restricted or imprisoned by something or someone. It’s the fear What if something happens where I’m helpless? and What if things go out of my control? It’s the fear of losing freedom.

  • Separation: (What if she says It’s over. Let’s be friends?)

We are attached to too many things and people. Despite the fact Nothing lasts forever, like a toddler, we want to protect and put our toys under the pillow. We don’t want them to go. We are afraid of separation.

  • Ego Death: (What if my crush laughs at my dressing?)

We all seek for attention and appreciation. Don’t we? To put it philosophically, We crave for recognition of our self (ego). It’s the fear of being humiliated— What if they don’t like me? We are afraid that someone will knock down our ego, our self-esteem.

 

> QUICK TIP TO OVERCOME FEAR: STOP IMAGINING ‘WHAT IF…

 

what is fear?

 


WHY DO WE FEAR?

That’s a million dollar question.

We fear because we think. We think of possibilities—What ifs. Unfortunately, every list of possibilities has What if it goes wrong?

Let’s be frank, this possibility is our favorite. We tend to think much about what can go wrong than what can go right.

Why? Simple, we got habituated. You know habits can’t be broken easily. Some might argue that thinking about what can go wrong is actually being practical. That’s right.

It’s right as long as that practical thinking doesn’t build up an emotion. There’s nothing wrong about thinking What if someone laughs at me? But that thought will also come with a package of emotion: Feeling bad. Feeling inferior. Feeling humiliated.

That’s the problem.

The only way to overcome fear is: Face it.

There’s a weird logic that Horror movie lovers say: If you look into the ghost’s face, you don’t fear again.

You should’ve experienced it too. As long as they hide the ghost behind the curtains or under the bed, it will scare you. But, once you look into its face, the details of makeup—the horror is gone!

This is what is to face the fear. To face is to look at it, to understand it, to observe it.

Why do you think that directors invent ghosts with long hair on face, or don’t reveal the ghost’s face until the climax? It’s always an eyeball through keyhole, long fingernails over the parapet wall, stalking silhouettes, and grumpy cries out of nowhere. Why don’t they show the actual face of the bloody ghost?

They know that if they do, the thrill is gone, the fun is gone, and the fear is gone.

The game plan of horror directors is that they want us to imagine. They show a lady walking under a white cloak and we start guessing what’s under that cloak?

Is she without eyeballs? Is she with blood oozing out of her lips? Is she having stitches on forehead? Is she a half-rotten corpse?

You go crazy with your imaginations! (That’s what the director wants)

And finally, hero unveils that poor cloak and there stands a skinny amateur actress with excess makeup. Oh, come on! Our heads made a better picture of the ghost than what’s on screen, we said.

Are you getting it? The horror is in our heads. Nowhere else.

Once you realize this fact. All fears seem shallow and not-so-glorious. In fact, that’s true. All fears are shallow and fancy.

 

HOW DEEP ARE OUR FEARS?

 




There’s a beautiful Zen story narrated by Osho in the book- Fear:

A man walking in the night slipped and fell from a rocky path. Afraid he would fall down thousands of feet, because he knew that just at the edge of the path was a very deep valley, he grabbed hold of a branch that was overhanging the edge. In the darkness of night, all he could see below him was a bottomless abyss. He shouted and his own shout was reflected back- there was nobody to hear him.

You can imagine that man and his night of torture. Every moment there was death below, his hands were becoming cold, he was losing his grip…but he managed to hold on, and as the sun came out he looked down…and he laughed! There was no abyss.

Just six inches below his feet there was a rock ledge. He could have rested the whole night, slept well- the edge was big enough- but insisted, the whole night was a nightmare.

Fear is not more than six inches deep. Now it is up to you whether you want to go on clinging to the branch and turn your life into a nightmare, or whether you would love to leave the branch and stand on your feet. There is nothing to fear.

 

what's on the other side of fear? Nothing. What is fear. Stable wanderer

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Note: The deeper you get into understanding what fear is, the shallower it seems. Knockdown FEAR is a series of articles that help you to battle your fears and overcome them. The upcoming articles deal with every basic fear, in detail.

 

How to save your friend from suicidal thoughts

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Are you afraid of your friend’s suicidal thoughts? Is he/she talking about suicide?

That’s something nobody wants to hear. If you do, it’s not too late to take a step to save your suicidal friend.

According to WHO’s first report on suicide prevention, on average, for every 40 seconds, there is one suicide.

By 2020, it is estimated that there will be one, for every 20 seconds.

 

suicide statistics

 

Sometimes, giving up might seem like the only answer. A Mental breakdown can be due to failure at love, failure in career, or a financial failure. They are clouds in the sky.

But remember that the sky is much bigger than the clouds. All you should do is Wait. Until the clouds pass.

The risk factors maybe depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, social isolation, loneliness, recent loss of something, trauma or sexual abuse.

So, what you should really be doing to save your friend when he goes nuts?

  • Smell fishes
  • Get into his/her shoes
  • Don’t slap. But talk.
  • Oh God, now what?

 

Step 1: Smell Fishes

 

is your friend suicidal?

It’s not a big deal to smell fishes, to know that your friend is hiding something from you.

You cannot expect that your friend will talk to you about his bad thoughts, especially when he’s on a mental breakdown. But, he definitely will give clues.

As a friend, you might know where he’s going in life. What’s happening with his life… at least by bits and pieces?



Here’s how to be Sherlock Holmes:

  • Is he/she frequently thinking about the same problem?
  • Is he/she trying his best to get over something and couldn’t?
  • Is he/she losing his focus on whatever he’s doing (like now and then)?
  • Is he/she having extreme mood swings or acting weird (as a friend, only you know what’s weird)?
  • Is he/she avoiding people and deliberately seeking for isolation?
  • Is he/she talking rubbish (You know what rubbish is)?
  • Is he/she buying weapons or drugs?
  • Is he/she skipping meals often or is there any drastic change in habits?
  • Is he/she complaining about family or relationship issues?
  • Is he/she constantly posting depressing quotes on social media? (You never know, even this can be a hint. Let’s not take chance).

 

So, if you just said Yes to any of the above. It’s time to get serious over the issue. It’s time to get into his shoes.

 

Step 2: Get into his/her shoes

 

give courage to your friend who is thinking of suicide

 

Understanding your friend (completely) can happen only when you get into his shoes—only when you start seeing things through his eyes.

Once you get a hint of what’s happening with him. Get deep into his problem.

Is there any other solution to that problem? Think of it.

It happens often that people overlook solutions when they are too deep into a problem. So, there might be solutions which your friend cannot see.

If you find a solution, don’t offer them quickly. In most cases, the state of mind of a suicidal friend is that he doesn’t want a solution. He isn’t ready to accept that his problem can be solved. So, belittling them or their problems might not work.

Don’t judge, even though his problem or reasons seem silly.

Instead, accept him. Accept his problem and situation. Show empathy. Give a hug and tell, ‘I get your problem bro.’ Or ‘Yeah I know how it feels.’

Understanding your friend will greatly console him and make him more comfortable. Our goal isn’t about giving a quick solution but to make your friend feel warm by getting into his shoes.

Once you get hold of the situation, Talk.

 

Step 3: Don’t Slap. But Talk

 

talk to your suicidal friend

 

Being rude to your friend is not advised. Yelling at them or hitting them will only make it worse. But if you really feel that a slap can make things right, just do. (You know your friend better).

Anyone with such thoughts signifies that they are giving up. It means that they just can’t take it anymore. So, being harsh will amplify their feeling. The best thing, you can do is to Talk.

It’s really tricky about what to talk and what not to. Be very careful. It can make or break the issue. If done right, you can save your friend. Yes! Just a good conversation can save a life.

Your ultimate goal is to convince or persuade your friend to talk. Let him talk.

If he really starts speaking about his problems, sharing it with you, that’s half success. Talking is a kind of therapy which unburdens one’s thoughts and emotions. When they break out during a talk, let them.

Give space for them to cry. Give space for them to express their deeper emotions. Listen to every sigh. Talk their hand. Give them strength.

And then start discussing the solutions. Tell them what they can hope for, what they can look for.

  • Tell them a dummy story where your miserable life changed to a fairytale overnight.
  • Crack jokes.
  • Focus on what can go right.
  • Tell them they have a secret admirer on Instagram (Even if they don’t).
  • Tell them a relatable story of someone successful who went through the same problem.
  • Remind them of their capabilities and what they can do.
  • Tell nothing. (Sometimes silence is the best advice).

Tell them whatever, but with two things in mind.

1) Don’t go against them. Don’t argue.

2) Tell solutions from their point of view. Never make them feel inferior.

 

Despite all these efforts, sometimes things can slip out of our hands. If it becomes almost impossible for your friends to convince, then take the final step.



 

Step 4: Oh God! Now what?

 

what to do with a friend with suicidal thoughts

 

It’s important that you do not panic. All through the process you’ve to take strong stand. You tried your best and it’s not working, then. Take Action.

  • Buy them their favourite food.
  • Gift them a chocolate or what they love. (Make a small surprise).
  • Write a letter to them, recalling all the beautiful days you had together. And what he really means to you.
  • Cheer him up by hanging out.
  • Get him a beer.

Do things which show them a reason to live.

DO NOT, at any cost leave your friend alone. Keep an eye. Check if they already have a plan, or weapons to kill.

Finally, Call a Suicide Prevention helplines known as Suicide Crisis lines.

Resources:

Suicide helplines India

Worldwide Suicide Crisis lines.

 

WHAT TO DO IF MY SUICIDAL FRIEND IS ON A PHONE CALL?

 

help a suicidal friend over a phone call

 

If you get to know about your friends deteriorating mental health on a phone call, you hardly have any time to get all these done.

Handle the call with all the strength and compassion. Do not overreact and mess up things. Here’s what you can do.

  • Listen

First, listen to your friend. Let his anguish ventilate. Let his depression unburden. No matter however negative the call may be, it’s a positive sign that the call is still on.

  • Sympathize and Empathize.

Let him feel comfortable by understanding to whatever he says and offer your support.

Do not argue or violate the conversation but keep it as smooth and transparent as possible.

Do not judge.

Do not humiliate.

Do not give quick advice.



  • Ask

Have no fear to ask your friend, “Are you having any suicidal thoughts?” Do not assume that you are giving an idea (if he isn’t really thinking of it).

Ask if he has such thoughts.

Ask if he has a plan.

If there’s a plan, ask when. Ask how.

Your asking shouldn’t sound like a crime investigation but as friendly as possible. Be kind. Ask with concern.

Suicidal thoughts are often temporary. They don’t last long. If a phone call is handled well, you can drift your friend’s focus from hurting himself.

Yet, if you think that the situation is out of control during the call. Contact someone nearby him—his parents, friends or neighbors. You can rush, if possible.

Sooner or Later, once if you smell something is wrong with your friend, google for a local suicide prevention hotline or contact a mental health therapist.

A thought once crossed mind, might cross again. So, have enough attention on your depressed friends and try your best to be responsible.

Your little talks, little actions, can save someone.

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