Facing the Mind-Killer: Fear

red danger sign
I am deathly afraid of heights, mind-killing afraid. I can charge through my fear and do heights, if I have to. But only if I have a solid piece of ground or a solid, secure ladder beneath me. Alas, though I tried to warn my ex a few years back, he insisted we’d have fun visiting one of the local haunted houses.

As with most haunted houses, we waited in line while listening to spooky music. Finally it was our turn. We walked into a dimly lit room set up like a doctor’s examination room. A recorded voice told us a not-very-original story about how the doctor got involved in grisly experiments, the lights flashed then we were in total darkness. My heart rate went up, just a little. After a moment, emergency lights came on revealing a grisly scene that made me, and the other visitors, giggle nervously. A door opened in front of us and we moved forward. The next room, dimly lit, revealed wax figures in the midst of a gruesome crime. One of the wax figures screamed, eliciting my screams as well (Don’t judge. I wasn't the only one).

As we followed twists and turns through the dark hallways filled with fake screams, animated wax figures and real costumed people paid to frighten customers, adrenaline drove my heart rate up more. We turned a corner, down a narrow, dimly lit corridor. Then I stepped onto a swinging bridge. I couldn't see the bottom. There was only a rope 'handrail.' Nothing was solid. How high were we? Someone, probably one of the house's paid characters, began to shake the bridge. I screamed and stopped, holding on for dear life. I could. Not. Move. No amount of coaxing from my ex could loosen my death grip on the rope rails nor motivate my denervated feet. Much to my ex's chagrin (and the other haunted house visitors' ire) I had to have the lights on to move forward. They took me out the 'coward’s door.'

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total oblivion. I must face my fear. Must allow it to pass over me and through me and where it has gone, I must turn the inner eye. Only I will remain. Dune, by Frank Herbert.

We all have fears. Big ones, little ones. Real ones and ones blown way out of proportion. Fear is a signal to prepare to FIGHT or RUN. We'd be foolish not to pay attention to our sense of fear if the house were on fire or a burglar was breaking into the house. But what if fear stops you cold? Is it still helpful?

I had planned for the rest of this post to discuss Bob Mayer's book Write It Forward and how his words about facing fear struck a cord with me. But a series of thunderstorms took out my internet for most of the weekend and kept me off all things electronic. So when the my internet was working again this evening I discovered that fear was in the air. Here are a few things I found.

Bob Mayer wrote a guest post (way better than I could) about fear called Fear is a Writer’s Worst Enemy: Attack the Ambush.

WANA classmate, Emma Burcart wrote What’s Behind the Curtain about a fear she's facing.

Did you know that even CEO millionaires like Seth Godin have fears? Millionaire CEOs are interviewed and share a little about facing their fears at Under30ceo.com with Advice on How to Get Past Your Fear In Business.

But the best message I found in my research about fear is in this Youtube video of a little, fourth grade girl who is about to make her first ski jump.

You can feel this little girl's fear at the beginning, but she faced the mind-killer. She was afraid but she knew she didn’t have to be unafraid to do it. Could you feel her triumph after she finished? I love that feeling!

She has inspired me. I'm going after some of my fears, you'll hear more about them in later posts.

I'd love to hear from you. Have you faced your mind-killer fear? What is it keeping you from doing? What is your strategy for beating that fear?

10 thoughts on “Facing the Mind-Killer: Fear

  1. Great video! Yay for that little girl. I read the book The Gift of Fear a few years ago, and fear can be a good thing and actually save one’s life, if we listen to and act on our instincts. It also helped me not to worry so much because our subconscious observations pick up on things we don’t consciously register at the time.

    That sounds like one good job they did putting that haunted house together. Sheesh! I would have been screaming, too! I have plenty of fears, mostly about friends and loved ones who are dealing with serious situations. I could worry myself sick but if there’s something I can do to help the person, then I do to help prevent my worst fears from happening. If it’s something I have no control over, I pray. If it’s some random thought that provokes fear, I ask God to take it from me, and He does.

    I think most of us have fears. Thanks for sharing your experience in the haunted house. I feel for you. Good thing they had a ‘coward’s door!’

    1. Lynn, worrying about someone else dealing with a serious situation is a difficult fear. There are all kinds of unknowns in that set up. And most of the time, you have absolutely no control over those situations. Giving things up to God – that takes a lot of faith. I admire you for that.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post Lynette! And the video was priceless. Children are so resiliant. No second thoughts. They just go for it! Me, I worry about everything. LOL! I try not to, but my subconscience mind takes over. I am going to head over to read Bob’s post right now. Thanks for sharing it. It could be just what I need. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karen. Yes, I love that video. Children always amaze me in how they can adapt to almost anything. And this little girl was sooo brave! I don’t think I will try that particular activity to challenge my fear of heights. LOL!

  3. Awesome post, Lynette. I love that quote from Dune. I understand how you freeze at heights since I’m the same way about wasps and bees. I just can’t help it. I can’t remember being stung badly as a kid or ever but all buzzing insects that can sting terrify me. (Btw, the video didn’t work anymore.)

    1. Reetta, I’m so glad you like that quote from Dune. Dune is one of my go-to books.

      There doesn’t have to be a rational explanation for the things you fear (wasps and bees). Sometimes fear of one thing actually represents something else. Fear is a very complex emotion.

      I’m sorry the video didn’t work for you. It works for me this morning. Perhaps it’s a browser issue?

  4. Great post Lynnette. I am not aware of any of this kind of fear except one: I am claustrophobic. I seem to have gotten over the worst of it – i haven’t had an episode in 20 years but the last one was a doozy. I’d forgotten all about it.

    1. Oooh, claustrophobia can be difficult with while living and working in the city. Crowds, elevators, all kinds of obstacles. I’m glad you’ve gotten over the worst of it. Thanks for sharing, Louise.

  5. I used to be squeamish about heights, too! I went to France when I was in high school, and – can you believe it? – SKIPPED the Eiffel Tower! I’ve regretted that ever since. I’ve pretty much gotten over the fear by forcing myself to approach the fence on our little 1/3-scale Eiffel Tower at a nearby amusement park & similar. Ten years ago I went to Mexico, and made myself climb the big pyramid at Chichen Itza, knowing I’d regret it if not. So glad I did, because a few years later, they stopped allowing people on it. It’s also where my first published book opens! Heights still give me the willies, but I can deal – and I’m going back to France this summer. You bet I’m going up the Eiffel Tower!

    1. Good for you, Jennette! I am so jealous. Chichen Itza was on the top of my list, but I didn’t get there in time to climb it. Drat. Good luck on your upcoming trip up the Eiffel Tower.

      Thank you for sharing.

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