Be a survivor not a victim

Deep faith in existence and your approach towards an adversity or insecurity will help you overcome the debacle and bounce back

happy woman in nature with a sense of achievementMan is beleaguered by innumerable insecurities: losing his partner to another, being laid off, death of a loved one, onset of fatal disease, meeting an accident, theft, murder, having a suicide bomber in the midst and thousand others. How does one cope with the scores of insecurities? The answer is simple.

Existence has fully equipped man to successfully meet every contingency and all eventualities. We all have in us the qualities required to transcend all possible events in our lifetime, but these abilities are in the ‘bud’ form i.e. as capacities to be developed or actualised. We have to use all the means and opportunities given to us to utilise these capacities and realise our potential.

Choose to live life

After the Gujarat earthquake, the tsunami, and various terror attacks, especially the recent ones at Mumbai, I have seen a variety of reactions in those affected by these major life events: fear, anger, sorrow, helplessness, anxiety, hysteria, resignation, and even non-reactive numbness in certain cases. On the other side, I have also seen strength, courage, hope, gratitude, prayerfulness, helpfulness, service and co-operation.

It was a light bulb moment for me when I realised that the first category of people saw themselves as ‘victims’ and those in the second category saw themselves as ‘survivors’. The devastation experienced by all of them was the same; their reactions, inverse.

The widow of a young intern, who lost his life on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon in Washington, gave birth to a baby just a few days before her husband died. Later, in a interview, she said that she had no regrets at all, because she and her husband had made it a point to live the best life they could with each other. There was a feeling of completeness between them, with nothing left unsaid and undone; and for that, she felt grateful. She also said that there was definitely a purpose to this event in her life, which God would reveal to her in due course. He would give her the strength to raise her baby and show her ‘the way’ at all times.

Another man who lost his entire family, his business and all his property in the Gujarat earthquake, decided to adopt a young boy who had lost his family and one of his legs in the same earthquake.So you see that it is your own choice to either live as a victim or as survivor; to either renounce the joy of life, or to bounce back to life.

Contemplate on death

Imagine: you are strolling down a street, lost in thought, speculating on important matters, or just listening to the walkman. A car suddenly races by and almost runs you over. It’s not so difficult to visualise; we have all experienced something similar at some point in life.

Switch on the television or glance at a newspaper and you will see death everywhere. Yet, did the victims of the accidents and calamities expect to die? They took life for granted, as we do. How often do we hear stories of people we know who have died unexpectedly? We don’t even have to be ill to die; our bodies can suddenly break down and go out of order, just like our cars. We can be quite well one day, and fall sick and die the next!

The Tibetan book of Dying says that we need to shake ourselves sometimes and ask, “What if I were to die tonight? What then?” If you breathe out and cannot breathe in again, you are dead. It’s as simple as that. Thus, it is important to reflect calmly, again and again, that death is real, and comes without warning.

Perhaps only those who understand just how fragile life is, know how precious it is.A striking number of those who have survived near-fatal accidents or have had a near-death experience, describe having a panoramic life review. They relive the events of their lives with uncanny vividness and accuracy in a flash. Sometimes they even live through the effects their actions have had on others, and experience the emotions their actions have caused.

A man who has had such an experience said, “I realised that there are things that every person is sent to earth to realise and to learn. For instance, to share more love, to be more loving toward one another, and to discover that the most important thing is human relationships and love.”

Thus, the purpose of reflecting on death is to make a real change in the depths of your heart. Often, this will require a period of retreat and deep contemplation, because only that can truly open our eyes to what we are doing with our lives. Death shakes you from your deep slumber, opens your eyes to reality. Thus, death and every other insecurity that man experiences is nothing but a wake-up call.

Thank insecurity

You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.Insecurities forcefully bring a man in touch with his real self and throw on him the responsibility of making a far-reaching choice. Either he refuses to see his spiritual stagnation and continues in the direction of decompensation [and that is a frightening proposition], or he decides to give up the stagnation and commits himself to mobilising his resources constructively [this is promising]. That is the power of insecurities.

Insecurities act as a wake-up call. In that sense, they are compassionate. An insecurity makes you aware of your spiritual laziness and stagnation in mediocrity and provokes you to shed it—stimulates you to evolve; it is a blessing.

Therefore, an insecurity of the future has nothing negative in it. It is not a punishment from existence, but in fact, an act of utmost compassion, as it helps man encounter his spiritual inertia, thus helping him exploit his full potential. Man wakes up to feelings of gratitude and love. He now works towards getting an emotional closure in all his relationships and towards fulfilling the true purpose of his life, thus enjoying the gift of life to its fullest.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why, it is called the present.When we are engulfed by the fear of the future, we fail to realise that the present is quietly slipping by. What you fear being taken away from you is already being taken away in the moments of your preoccupation with the insecurity and because of the insecurity. In effect, you are causing now and here, exactly what you fear.

Do your best and leave the rest

The way to deal with insecurities is through inner relaxation. The deepest and most genuine inner relaxation comes only from ‘doing your best and leaving the rest’. The ‘best and rest’ is the two-pronged approach of coping with insecurities and bouncing back to life—urgency and let go, both together.

Doing your best means living the best life you can live i.e. a life of love, gratitude and forgiveness. Remember, ‘there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing’. So if you have lived your life now and here to its fullest, then there can be no regrets, and thus no fear of the moment ending. When every moment is completed in a ‘full circle’, there is a deep inner relaxation and thus no insecurity.Leaving the rest involves taking a quantum leap of faith—to have faith that every event in life comes for a purpose; that there is a message from existence, which has to be unravelled; that I need that particular event in my life for my spiritual evolution.

This trust in every event comes from seeing a divine purpose in the event and believing that I am a recipient of a compassionate act. It also comes from the faith that I have the innate capacity to transcend all eventualities, albeit in a bud form. If I actualise myself and manifest all those innate human qualities, there is no life event I cannot meet with graceful and grateful acceptance. Such deep trust and faith gives rise to a ‘let go’ attitude, an inner relaxation in which an event is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but merely ‘an event’, which has a purpose and divine sanction. This is the quantum leap of faith that rids man of all insecurities and allows him to embrace life, fully.

Have faith

‘Why fear when I am here,’ the saint Sai Baba of Shirdi is known to say. When I trust that the Lord loves me and he knows best, and all is ‘right’ in the cosmic plan; when I trust that He has given me the strength to cope with everything and that this strength will manifest as and when needed; then there insecurity is no more.

With faith in your heart, reach out for God’s Hand
And accept what He sends though you can’t understand—
For OUR FATHER in heaven always knows what is best
And if you trust in his wisdom your life will be blessed
For always remember that whatever betide you
You are never alone for God is beside you.


Minnu Bhonsle
Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here