Fear…ah fear. I’ve done quite a bit of thinking about fear over the past few years. I myself am not a fearful person. I tend to take things as the come.
There are two quotes that I have referenced over and over. The first is from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Paul Atreides is being tested by a member of the Bene Gesserit with a device that induces great pain.
The test was to see if he is mature enough to move through the pain instead of fleeing from it like a child or a dog would. The litany is what reminds him that fear must not win:
“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”
Fear brings total obliteration. Total Obliteration. OBLITERATION.
The second was what redeemed the movie, After Earth for me. In the movie (minor spoiler alert), Will Smith is a military commander in a fight against monsters that prey on our fear. They have no eyes and hunt by sensing our fear. They are horrendous creatures that would make anyone pee their pants.
The only way to effectively fight these creatures is to become a “ghost” – one without fear. This is achieved through a profound change in both the understanding and thus perspective of fear.
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”
I literally paused the movie and rewinded to hear it again. It blew my mind and still does today. The concept that fear is a construct of the future and it is a choice.
What great news for my amateur self. Now the trick is believing it…
- Fear is debilitating for the amateur – a defining characteristic is not being able to let fear pass through (Dune reference)
- The amateur believes he should be the hero of both his and other’s movies.
- He would eat the world given the power
- He is validated by the opinions of others – giving them an immense measure of power of him
- Fear keeps him inauthentic because the must satisfy the expectations of others rather than becoming who he really is
- Solitude and silence are two of the top fears for an amateur because they foster the hearing of the professional’s voice
- The preoccupation of one’s self makes it hard for the amateur to identify and therefore fell compassion for others
- Fear requires permission to act
- The amateur seeks the immediate and believes it will satiate and when it doesn’t, seeks more thus leading to addiction
- Amateur lives either in a hopeful future or an idyllic past (that never existed) – never in the present
Being able to have compassion for yourself is the first step in becoming a pro