How To Overcome Fear

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.”

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear- Dune

Thirty years ago the last thing you ever wanted to in my neighborhood was admit you were afraid. It wasn’t because it was a rough neighborhood because it was not.

It was composed of ordinary middle class people who worked hard to provide a good life for their families, probably no different than a million other neighborhoods.

It was also populated by lots of children including many boys like myself who learned that you never wanted to admit you were scared, didn’t want to cry or do anything else to show that you were any weaker than the next boy.

Again, I am guessing that isn’t much different than what happened in a million other neighborhoods.

I Was Tough and I Was Scared

Back then I worked very hard to prove I was tough even when I was scared and I was scared more often than I wanted to admit. It bothered me because I thought it was weak and I was sure that The Six Million Dollar Man never got scared.

I really wanted to be him and wondered if one day I might be able to get some bionic limbs too. Might be kind of nice to be able to run as fast a car or jump up and down from high places.

Even though I never got those bionic limbs I made a point to look for tools and resources that I could use which is why the Litany Against Fear got my attention.

It seemed like a great tool I could use to master and overcome the fears I had.

What I Worried About

I really didn’t have too many fears. I didn’t like the dark and the Bigfoot from The Bionic Man really scared me which  is a bit embarrassing now. Why? Because when I see a clip of him now he reminds me of a giant Muppet and well, Muppets never frighten me.

I should probably clarify that I was around eight or so when Bigfoot caught my attention and wouldn’t read Dune for another five or six years.

But I remember being surprised by how brave I could be when others were around and how that changed when they weren’t. One or two others were enough for me to feel comfortable walking almost anywhere in the dark, but if I was alone–not so much.

Present Day Fear

If you ask me to provide you with a list of things that scare me now I can do so. Most of them are relatively obvious and or mundane. They are concerns about my family and people I care about.

There are a few that are personal. I hate the idea of being burned to death or eaten alive.  Every now and then I may get a little anxious about other stuff too, but some things are very different now than they used to be.

The Litany Works

Part of what is different now is that the Litany works for me in ways it never did. Maybe it is because I have learned that my graphic imagination makes things scarier and much worse than they are in reality.

When I am nervous about something it is usually tied into my not knowing or understanding as much as I would like to. When I get the chance to confront it and pull away the mystery things change and the fear fades.

That is what I hear and see the Litany say.

Now when I feel that whisper in the back of my mind I close my eyes and visualize myself somewhere calm and comfortable.  I don’t always say the words of the Litany but sometimes I think about it.

I take that moment to give Fear a moment to shake his chains at me and then I snatch them out of his hands and smack him in the head with them.

You can call that the Litany with the Teddy Roosevelt speak softly and carry a big stick method.

What about you? How do you deal with your fear?

13 comments
penneyfox
penneyfox

Holy crap fellow Dune lover! That brought a warm-fuzzy to my heart when I saw this in your post. I have the words hanging on my wall in my office and yes, I know the whole thing by heart and will repeat it to myself when I start to freak out. I have a weird fear of snakes, which sucks because I live in Florida and they're all over teh place. BUT my biggest fear is that everything I've worked so hard to do will all just fall apart and I won't be able to get it back. I think that's why I push myself so hard, just to make sure it doesn't fall apart.

Ralph
Ralph

All this fear talk. It's everywhere I go. Fear is trending in the blogosphere. Is it because it's the start of a new year? I'm afraid I am going to have to read it all.

Hajra
Hajra

Go ahead and do it. And fight the fear. That is the only way you get rid of it, overcome the irrational fear that stops one from doing anything. And unless we go ahead and do the task that fears us, you might never be able to overcome it.

Geoff Livingston
Geoff Livingston

Courage is the ability to act in the face of fear. I think embracing fear, as you note here, is the best way to begin the process of becoming courageous!

Bill Dorman
Bill Dorman

Address it head on; compartmentalize it and put it away; or ignore it, and I've done all 3. I still have no desire to see 'horror' movies because I don't want my imagination to 'run wild' when I am alone...:). However, I have started watching the walking dead, I guess a slow moving zombie can't be too scary, huh?

Betsy Cross
Betsy Cross

A lot of people are talking about fear these days. Here's my idea: run like the wind. :). Maybe it won't catch you?

Jack
Jack

I knew you if anyone would appreciate that. It works for me so I figure why not keep it up. And if it keeps snakes away so much the better.;)

Jack
Jack

Hi Hajra, I am doing my best to do exactly as you say. Better to try and fail than not try at all.

Jack
Jack

Hi Geoff, Exactly. It takes something extra to stand your ground and face your fear.

Jack
Jack

Hi Bill, You keyed on something important, imagination. Whenever I write I try to find ways to engage the reader's imagination because nothing is more powerful. Sometimes horror movies lose me because what I imagined was far worse than what I see on screen. I hear good things about that Walking Dead show.

Jack
Jack

Hi Betsy, I kind of like that idea, but I have to concede that my nature usually pushes me in the other direction.I get tired of running and want to stand my ground.