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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Convert your fear into strength : Ask Our Counsellor - Q&A Column December 10, 2010

The following queries answered by me were published in the Deccan Herald Education Supplement dt December 10, 2010

Dear Madam,

I am studying in Standard 10 and my Board exams are fast approaching. I try to read, but I can’t. I find it difficult to remember. Sometimes, even when I read well and remember well, I don't score well because I commit many silly mistakes. Sometimes I leave my answer sheet blank as I don’t remember anything out of exam fear. Before going to the examination hall, I prepare myself to be brave but the moment I get the question paper, I find myself overcome by fear. My parents are very supportive. I have even taken medicines to improve my memory. I have a migraine problem too. How should I study and prepare myself for my exams?

Dear Madam,

I am a student of Class Eleven. My IQ is above average, but I make simple errors in calculation and reading. Sometimes, while solving a mathematical problem, I miss out 1 or 2 steps, which throws me off completely. I tell myself to concentrate, but it never works. I often realise the errors made by me only after turning in the answer sheet. Please help.

Dear students,

I get a sense that you are over-anxious about your results, and therefore, are not able to perform well in your exams. You blank out and tend to forget things or make careless mistakes. This often happens, and you are not alone in being anxious about your exams. Remember, while you need to put in an honest effort in preparing for the exams, you should not be overly focussed on the marks. The only thing you can control is your effort and learning. It is important to keep this in mind, so that even if you don't get the marks (for whatever reason), atleast the learning is still with you. No one can take that away. The other thing is to be able to put exams in perspective. While you are going though your exams it seems like it is the most important thing that you will ever do in your life, and that your whole life will depend on it. When you step out of your current shoes and look at your exams from a distance, you will realise that they are only one of the many things in your life and not your whole life. There are several challenges, failures and victories that you will face in life. This is only one of them. You need to be able to put them in perspective. What exams do is to open some doors for you. If you don’t do well in your exams, then those specific doors may not open, but others will — only you will have to look for them. Success in life depends on several other factors like self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to think creatively, learn quickly, work independently, and in a team, communicate well, and empathise with people, to mention just a few.

An important question I want to ask you is, how do you interpret failure? You are bound to face failure at several stages in life. Everybody does. The important thing is to be able to differentiate the failure from you. Failure is an event and not a person. If you failed an exam, it does not mean that you are a failure. It just means that you failed at doing one exam. Making some of these changes in the way you think may help ease off the pressure and anxiety you are facing on account of your result. Don’t chase the result — chase the learning and relax. Good luck!

Dear Madam,

I am an 18-year-old girl. I was performing well in academics till Class 10. In the past 2 years, I got distracted, was mentally disturbed and ended up messing my Class 12. I am not able to regain my confidence which I had two years ago. I am and always have been a very pessimistic person by nature. When I went down drastically in Class 12, some of my friends tried to console me by saying it is destiny, it probably was meant to happen and stuff like that. Now, I get extremely scared of my future. I have started believing in horoscopes, etc.

What exactly is destiny? Should I believe in horoscopes? Do they come true? I know I am being extremely stupid, but I am actually very disturbed by these predictions. I really need your help as no one really seems to understand my problem.

Dear student,

We all need to remember that each one of us faces ups and downs in life. When we are on a downswing, we start questioning our capability and keep feeling like things will never get better. At times like this, in our search for answers, we start placing great importance on horoscopes and destiny. That helps us believe that nothing is in our control and we are powerless. The important thing is to know that you have enormous power and control on your life. You have to believe that you can do whatever you set your mind and heart to doing.

However, I do feel, that given whatever you have described, it may be difficult to bring about this shift in yourself on your own. I suggest you take the help of a counsellor, or a trusted adult if you don’t have access to a counsellor, who can help you regain your confidence. Once you feel more confident about yourself, you can accelerate your life’s journey in a productive manner.

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