How often after you have had a conversation with someone, have you wondered “What did they think about me? Did I say something that made me look stupid? What impression did I leave?” If these statements bother you, give a read to this article. The approach has helped me feel stronger, confident and be in control of my reality and it could help you too.
When I was in the 4th standard, at the parents teacher meetings, my teacher remarked to my parents “Akshay doesn’t speak at all. Not even a word in the class.”
My parents stood there asking me, “Akshay, why is that so?”.
I stood there with no answers 😶
For about 19 years, I lived in fear, self doubt and worry 😪. And, It’s not easy to let go of these thoughts. These worry cycles are counter productive yet our brain can’t resist them. They just keep spinning in our thoughts creating a bigger cloud of worry, anxiety, self doubt and fear🤒.
Overtime. I started running away from new faces, new problems, new situations.
This became a pattern. I was comfortable with a closed group of friends but not with anyone new. I hated change. I tried asking myself, why am I like that? Every time, I would convince myself, I will speak my heart out the next time. There’s nothing to worry about.
“What will they think about me?”, “What will be my impression on them?”, “I don’t want to feel stupid”
were stronger than my will..
It was only when I thought about it deeply, that I got the answer 🙃
If you think about it, the root cause of all these problems were the expectations I had from myself and others. Though it’s simple, I was immediately attracted to this thought.
I knew all these worries originated from within. And only I can solve them.
It was during this time that I was elected as the President of the Entrepreneurship Cell of our college. Every year, each cell had to orient the freshers and talk about the perks of being in their cell. My senior asked me to conduct that for the Entrepreneurship Cell, for that year.
I could instantly feel the pressure build up, the fear of speaking in front of 100 people. But this time, I didn’t want the pressure to get to me. So I prepared💪
I prepared on how I would conduct this entire talk. Just before stepping on the stage, I told myself, “Akshay, no one knows you anyway. A talk won’t change that either. Whether it’s good or bad”.
When I told myself that this talk is not going to decide the future of my life, I killed all the expectations I had with myself.
I set zero expectations from myself.
I went on stage and conducted the orientation. And felt immensely good. Because I had just passed one big hurdle of my life. I went into the zone of constant learning which helped me go out there without any fear and speak about what I wanted to say.
Digging deeper, let me share an interesting story.
PHILOSOPHER: Have you ever drank water that has just been drawn from a well?
YOUTH: Well water? Um, it was a long time ago, but there was a well at my grandmother’s house in the countryside. I remember enjoying the fresh, cold water drawn from that well on a hot summer’s day.
PHILOSOPHER: You may know this, but well water stays at pretty much the same temperature all year round, at about sixty degrees. That is an objective number — it stays the same to everyone who measures it. But when you drink the water in the summer it seems cool and when you drink the same water in the winter it seems warm. Even though it’s the same water, at the same sixty degrees according to the thermometer, the way it seems depends on whether it’s summer or winter.
YOUTH: So, it’s an illusion caused by the change in the environment.
PHILOSOPHER: No, it’s not an illusion. You see, to you, in that moment, the coolness or warmth of the well water is an undeniable fact. That’s what it means to live in your subjective world.
What does this mean?
We control our reality. We see the world with our own subjective perception. We don’t have to let those thoughts control what we do but the other way round.
It’s a difficult path but can lead to liberation from the infinite expectations we impose upon ourselves.
If you conquer this, you have conquered freedom. It’s hard but worth fighting for.