“..Why I stammer,why i become a stammerer amongst all my cousins and
friends– this thought is coming continuously to me? What is the process of
desensitization? how can I remove the thought for the time
being that I am a stammerer which is constantly hovering around me. I
just want to be out of this three year program. I have not been able to study
and 2 exams are starting from next week (midterm). I accept my stammering but I
dont love it …life has become a hell. I am planning to quit..”
This is a typical email from a young pws under siege. I often get such emails. They remind me appeals for help from a man about to drown. What is to be done?
First thing- you need a clear space (mental as well as physical) for thinking your thoughts through. You can not do so, if you have already made up your mind to quit the prestigious program and go home- as a thoroughly whipped puppy! Because that kind of decision will generate its own turmoil. You need a clear free mind space to think. I will suggest take a 24 hour break and go to some quiet place: a beautiful spot in nature (camping), to an ashram or spiritual retreat or to a friend’s place who would leave you alone.
Next, take a walk in the nature or a swim in the lagoon. Just an hour or so.
Then, pick up a pen and paper and start writing freely your thoughts, fears, concerns, problems, without constraining them to any particular format or style. Just scribble freely. As long as fuzzy thoughts stay in head, they generate worry. Once out on the paper, you can see them objectively and put them behind you.
Next, write out a worst case scenario: what is the absolutely worst that can happen. As you put it down on paper, new thoughts will come to you- spin offs of the worst scenario. Write them too down. Gradually you will see that even the darkest picture you could paint, has blobs of light here and there. Given time, they grow and the whole picture lights up. Also, as you put it down on paper, you begin to lose all your fear and horror of “worst scenario”. You discover that it is just one among many options- not necessarily good or bad.
Having dealt with “worst scenario”- now work back from there: what are other options, less dramatic than just packing up and leaving a course in the middle, just because you stammer! Go on line- do a quick search for what others have done in the same situation. Phone friends and others who could advice you. Absorb and digest all the new information.
Now, start prioritizing your options, choices. Develop an actionable plan. Put it in writing as one activity after another in bullets with time frame, frequency etc. What pre-requisites are needed for these activities? plan and write down that too. Make it a gradual change over a period of time. Dont bite more than you can chew- but also, dont be miserly in your ambitions. Also, plan similar “day off” for reveiw and further planning and STICK to it.. Later, photstat the plan and stick it all over your room, loo, balcony, desktop etc.
Later, in the day, give yourself a treat: do something new, enjoyable and physical (no movies please) – a boat ride, water skiing, snorkeling or whatever inspires you.
Remember, all the above steps are possible – not in the campus, but away from that “fish-market”.. in some quiet place, away from your work place. Going in solitude regularly once in a fortnight is the only antidote to the modern disease of “stressful living”. Second lesson is- NEVER take a decision when your emotions are HIGH, when you are under any kind of stress. This is what you owe to yourself, your firends and family.
Finally, acceptance means, accepting all the experiences which life brings- good, bad or indifferent. And turning them into useful objects- like that NGO in south India, which turns waste into useful items of daily use..and thus preserves our environment for the next generation. Last- keep the dialogue going by leaving comments here..
PS: Did you say 24 hours leave? who will grant me that? But just now you were going to quit once for all- cant you quit just for 24 hours? God forbid, but suppose you were very sick, will they still insist that you attend? Getting away from that atmosphere is THE trick. Nothing else will work..