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How to try hard without fear of failure? || Acharya Prashant, International Psychology Summit (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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Questioner (Q): Good evening, Sir! My question is, how do I face the fear of physical or psychological pain when I am trying to level-up my efforts? So, it’s in the context of putting-out a great effort and maintaining consistency in putting great efforts.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Great efforts towards what?

Q: Towards anything—may be physical, may be intellectual.

AP: No! You cannot put effort towards anything and expect the whole thing to go soundly and healthily.

Q: Let me give you an example: so, let’s say, in the gym if we pick-up some weight—a heavy weight we picked-up and the first set goes on well. But I am scared of putting second set of weights because I am scared of the pain I have to go through again.

AP: It all depends on the reason you go to the gym for. See, if you will talk to gym owners, they will tell you that the drop-out rates from gyms are unbelievably high and that’s the reason they try to lock you in through long-term membership programs. They will say, “Two months—a high amount, six months—a comparatively lower amount on per month basis. Come on you, enroll for a year and then you will get a good deal”. Why do they need to do that? Because they know very well that unless you lock yourself in for a year, you are likely to drop out by the end of the first or second month.

Why does that drop-out kind of thing happen? Because we do not really know what we are going to the gym for. And that’s the reason why there is then demotivation and lack of energy. Do we have clarity of purpose? Do we have a goal worth striving for? And if you have that kind of compelling and beautiful goal—the goal energizes you, the goal keeps you on track, the goal makes it impossible for you to drop out.

Now without having a goal of that sublime quality, if you still want to keep striving, it will become very difficult for you. That’s the reason most people find themselves short of energy and enthusiasm.

Please think why most of our resolutions go unfulfilled. I resolved to do this, and at the moment of the resolution it appears all so clean and straight, “Yes, obviously, I am going to do it.” Just two days later, you find your mind is elsewhere. Because whatsoever you are trying to do does not really arise from your deepest inner clarity. It comes from some kind of an influence from somewhere. And influences are aplenty.

If you can take up the gym because you are influenced, you can equally well drop out of the gym because you are influenced. Got carried away by one wave and entered the gym but the ocean of life just keeps waving endlessly. Another wave comes and drags you out of the gym. Did we really enter the gym on the legs of our own solid clarity? No! We were swept in; and if one thing can sweep you in, the other thing will definitely sweep you out.

The same thing happens with most other things in life—enrolling for a course, entering into a relationship, signing up for a job—how much clarity do we really have? Or basic daily things like—deciding to lose some weight, or learning to play guitar, or learning to swim—it all lasts a maximum of fourteen days. And life keeps presenting us with evidences and yet we do not bother to stop and ask, “What’s going on? Are these desires even mine?”—All targets are desires, right?—"Are these desires even mine? And if my life is a continuous sequence of actions aimed at desires, then, is even my life actually mine? Or am I living a random life; a life that has no root in the within?”. Then in some sense we are not even alive. You can call it as ‘The myth of life!’

We are not even alive! Why we are not alive? Because there is no solid inner center called the ‘I’. No! That is not there. It’s intriguing and beautiful, Vedanta calls the ultimate Truth as “I”— “Ātmā” . Think of it—Why should such a peculiar name be given? Why should these two be equated? How can Satya and Ātmā be one? That’s what!

If there is no unconditioned self within, then there is only falseness in the entire life.

I am not sure whether the answer is addressing your query at the granular level, but I am trying to provide a framework within which all such queries can be seen.

People say, “Oh! But I don’t feel like going to my workplace”. That’s because that is not your workplace at all. You have just incidentally landed there. And now you are trying to just drag the dead thing on.

In marriages they call it as the seven years thing. After seven years you feel terribly tired of your spouse, and then there are either divorces or extra marital affairs and many other things, they start happening. That’s because the fellow was not your spouse at all. It’s like being drugged and wedded. How is that fellow your spouse? Aren’t we all living in a perpetually drugged condition? So, questions to think of, not sure these are answers in a conventional sense.

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