When your mind is paralysed with fear…

Remember Rabindranath Tagore’s famous lines –

‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free…’

As much as we would like to always keep our mind free, we do find ourselves paralysed with fear at work. This happens especially when one is entrusted with a new task of which one has not much knowledge. Our mind is geared to either fight or flight. Most often than not, the flight reaction kicks in first and we then tend to operate from a mindset bereft of solutions or creative thinking. This paralysis can become a vicious circle and easily engulf us in a situation of fear. Fear of failing. Fear of being ridiculed. Fear of falling short in one’s own mind. It is as though we have reached a plateau in our thinking and cannot move an inch further.

Shifting this mindset of scarcity wherein we struggle to find answers can at times seem like a herculean task. I remember being once given the task of downloading a heavy file and saving it in a folder. It was my first exposure to the internet, and I had absolutely no idea how to go about this task. I told frozen in front of my laptop for what seemed like hours, ready to burst into tears for not knowing something that seemed like a relatively simple thing to do. Yet, I grabbled with my own fears.

Here are some thoughts on how to change the fear mindset to that of being capable and confident with any new task comes your way:

Get more information

Ask yourself whether you need more information for the challenge that is in front of you. If so, who is the best person to provide you with that information? Once you have zeroed on that, go and ask! Also check whether you know what to do with that information. No point in having additional insights if you do not know how to use them.

Stay on track with your ability to do the task

Sometimes we do not believe we are capable enough to do a particular task. When the brain is in the flight mode, it loses touch with one’s own capabilities to solve issues. Shake yourself from such thinking and dip into on your strengths. Your strengths can provide you with answers and provide solutions.

Weigh the importance of the task

This one is key to bring about a shift in your thinking. When you consciously weigh the importance of the task at hand, it is likely that you find your mind stuck with the mundane and inconsequential. When I reflect back at my own paralysis when it came to a file download, I know now that I had somehow managed to make a mountain out of a mole hill. It was something that could have easily been deferred until I had acquired the necessary information to do it the right way.


We do multiple tasks in a day. There are days when work never seems to end and when you have just finished one work, another comes and demands your attention! Sounds familiar, does it not? In such a situation, it is very easy to get entangled with confusion and not know what to do next. Get into the habit of prioritising your day and organising the tasks as they come your way.

Change your environment

Move out of that room, space, office, home, wherever you are when you get stuck. If you are unable to move out, visualise your dream place. Put yourself there for some time and feel the goodness flooding your brain, heart and emotions. A change of immediate surroundings has the profound ability to shift one’s mood and thought processes. And get you going.

Remember, everyone gets stuck somewhere, sometime at work and needs help. Even CEOs. You are not alone.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

Be the first to comment on "When your mind is paralysed with fear…"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.