Freedom from Fears

Shreshtha Mittal


If we search the internet, a whole list of multiple types of fears would pop up in front of us. What is interesting to see is that all these fears we experience emerge from two major categories -

  1. Fear of Failure / Rejection
  2. Fear of Uncertainty

Some common questions that keep running in our mind and are indicative of fear are -

What if I don’t get good grades? What if I get rejected in that interview? What if I don’t get that promotion? What if I lose my job?

What if I contract COVID-19?  What if my loved one meets an accident? What if I am not good enough for him / her?

At some or the other life stage, each one of us must have experienced at least one of these fears. What makes me curious is, while imagining our what if scenarios, how we almost always imagine ‘what may go wrong’ in our lives instead of imagining ‘what may go right’.

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult for us to imagine the good, and easy for us to fall prey to imagining the bad? Well, our scriptures try explaining that. For instance, If we refer the teachings from ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ we will come across the term “monkey mind”.  According to the Buddhist principles, the “monkey mind” is a term that refers to being unsettled, restless, or confused. As per the writer and buddhist Natalie Goldberg, monkey mind is nothing but our inner critic.

Monkey mind is the part of our brain most connected to the ego, which contends that we can’t do anything right. It’s also the part of us that stifles creativity and prevents us from moving forward with our passions. The monkey mind insists on being heard, and sometimes it takes a lot of self-control to shut it down. It is also the part of our brain that becomes easily distracted, so if we want to overcome our fears and get things done in life, our challenge will be to shut down the monkey mind.

Imagine three children running a 100m race -

  • One of them is hitting the starting point with her goal of winning the race clear in her mind,
  • Second one is beginning to run just for the fun of it with no clear intentions of winning the race, and
  • Third one is starting off with nervousness, fear of failure and constant mental chatter going on & on in her head about ‘What if I fail?, what if I fall?’

Whom do you think would NOT win the race for sure? Well, it’s not difficult to answer that!

Now, take a moment to think about the people whom you look upto, your role models and those whom you believe have achieved things despite the odds. If you study their lives closely or happen to talk to any of them, you would discover that when they could overcome the fear of failure and uncertainty standing between their present and their future is when they were able to embrace success. And in order to overcome their fears, they had to shut their monkey mind.

Infact, why think about someone else, think of those multiple situations where you had performed to the best of your abilities and embraced success. Was it the fear & anxiety which made you succeed or a clear mind full of self-belief? In spite of being there, done that multiple times we still keep falling in the trap of monkey mind and let our fears grow bigger than us. What suffers in this process is our own wellbeing and our performance in both personal and professional lives.

How to shut down the monkey mind and release our fears?

There are multiple effective practices available on Google to help us shut the monkey mind. However, considering there is no one approach that fits all, I believe what is more important while shutting down our inner critic is to first learn to be aware and acknowledge its existence whenever we feel emotions of fear. Spend time understanding why it is meaningful for us to release that fear arising from our inner critic. Accordingly decide the course of action, choose & customise the effective practices available around us to bring out the best results.

Below are a set of self- reflection questions which may be helpful in shutting down our monkey mind and releasing the fears. These questions focus on building solid Mindset, Actions and Results (MARs). Let’s have a look -

Building a habit of reflecting on these questions would gradually help us build resilience against the challenges and fears that control our mind.

As a practicing Life & Transformation Coach, I partner with my clients towards overcoming the fears that may be grappling them and work towards maximising their true potential. 

To book a personal one on one coaching session, you may reach me on my LinkedIn here.

Till then, Stay Healthy & Stay Safe from your monkey mind!