Wisdom Arises Through Understanding

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fear of What ?

Yesterday I went with TL & AC to a university town in Perak to give a talk for a special event that is organised for the students there. When the students filed into the hall, I could see that there were all young adult about 18 and above. Most of them when they came in, they came in 2s, 3s or 4s and when they choose a place to sit, it was with their friends.

When I started the session with something light just to warm them up, the students were open and tried out the activities that I gave them. In the activity, the highlight was to get them to see how they seem to do things in a certain way and the reason is their mindset.

When it was TL's turn to speak, he started to get the students to do activities that require them to look at another person and also observe self. I could see the level of discomfort increased in the students..... most looked away from their friend, some gave sheepish smiles and all seem uncomfortable.

When he asked the students to change place and work with other people that they do not normally interact with, quite a number choose not to follow the instruction and for those that did, it was very visible that they had never done such activities before.

It was quite an interesting observation for me on how they (and me too if I were in their shoes) use different strategies (and it seem unconscious to them) to avoid having to face their fear of interacting with someone new. Some of the strategies were to hold their knapsack/file/book in front of them, look with downcast eyes when others are looking at them, play with their handphone, try and make conversation with the other person, look around instead of their buddy, turn to a friend near by and strike a conversation, cross their arms in front of their chest, nervous smiles and also shuffling of feet.

This got me to thinking of how I have numerous time tried some of the strategies above to hide my nervousness when I'm interacting with new people or in an unfamiliar place..... This sort of confirm what TL said the "the mind is in fear most of the time". This underlining fear is something that causes me to act "funny" or laugh too loudly etc. I realised that when I am not mindful, the strategies take over automatically but if there was some measure of mindfulness, the observer can observe that the mind wish to undertake the strategies and this gives the opportunity to choose a more appropriate respond. I realised that the thinking of the fear is always bigger than the actual fear itself.

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