How Cognitive Therapy helped a stressed Arjuna
It’s morning hours in Kurukshetra. The war is about to begin. And our hero Arjuna is nearly in tears. He is trembling with the dry throat thinking “how can I engage in war with my loved ones . It is my uncles and cousins. It is my teachers and friends that are on the battlefield opposite me. I can’t do this Krishna. ” Krishna like a mentor knows that behind every inauthentic being, we avoid responsibility. So let’s look at what made Arjuna responsible once and for all.
Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.
'Aise ran main bloke shok vegh main Arjun, baith Gaya hatash rath main rakh kar teer dhanushya!' (Adhyaay 1 Shloka 47)
Krishna makes a point to use Cognitive Therapy and some restructuring to get Arjuna back on his feet. Behind every behavior, there is an unaddressed emotion. Let's looks at the undressed emotion behind responsibility.
1) Reducing Anxiety – What body sensations Arjuna is feeling may seem real but the mentor shifts the focus of Arjuna from body sensations to the source of these sensations. That’s thoughts. He is predicting future that it is going to be devastating. Yes, it is going to be difficult. Every war is. Like every exam is uncertain in schools and colleges. We don’t know the question papers. Like becoming a parent. We don’t know what we have to sacrifice for raising a child. Really don’t we know ?
2) Underestimating the coping strategies and exaggerating the threat. Like Arjuna we tend blow the threats that are uncertain and can’t remember the skills we have to deal with these situations. Krishna here makes a point to boost his moral by telling him who he is what his skills are and how the world relates to him. Make a list of skill you can help you cope this situation and gauge the parameters of what could possibly go wrong. If you are still looking for a predictable future Richard Feynman has some advice, in his 1961 lectures to Caltech freshmen, made this declaration:
“Yes! Physics has given up. We do not know how to predict what would happen in a given circumstance, and we believe now that it is impossible — that the only thing that can be predicted is the probability of different events. It must be recognized that this is a retrenchment in our earlier ideal of understanding nature. It may be a backward step, but no one has seen a way to avoid it. … So at the present time we must limit ourselves to computing probabilities. We say “ at the present time, ” but we suspect very strongly that it is something that will be with us forever — that it is impossible to beat that puzzle — that this is the way nature really is. “(Feynman, Leighton, & Sands, 1995, p. 135)What Feynman is clearly stating is that principle events are unpredictable with human capabilities so predict the probability and be ready to deal with it.
3)Put reality in your face. Don’t act as if you didn’t know what was in the battle Field. when we take any new initiative or action or job or business we know the ups and down. But the moment first ramp down in the cycle comes we tend to ask “ Am I doing it right did I take a right decision?” counter question yourself “didn’t you knew this is going to come ?”
4)Shifting focus to purpose from current problem. Like Arjuna we tend to defocus from the purpose and glorify the problem. Yes, there is a problem to deal with. But research shows that dealing with a problem becomes easier if we know why we are doing it. That is why people who take engineering for fulfilling dream of parents.. May never reach the final semester. Parents who go for a new baby because the child in neighbor’s house has no one to play may feel parenting difficult than usual.
5) Knowing what is responsibility – Responsibility is misused in everyday life. Responsibility is the ability to respond, it is not a blame. Like we usually use it. It is a charm that makes you enchanting. Being responsible for the exam means how you respond to an exam.Responsible for results mean how you choose to respond in best possible way after you get the result. You have the freedom to choose between every stimulus and response.
References 1) God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita (Set of 2 Volumes) 2) Bhagavad-Gita (Hindi) 3) Moral Psychology – Free Will and Moral Responsibility: 4 4)The Feynman Lectures on Physics v. 1 5) Man’s Search for Meaning 6) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
About the Author
Learning addict. Speaker. Writer. Thought designer. Senior Psychologist and Trainer at Hope Doctors
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