On The Nature Of Fear

Fear gets a bad rap around the manosphere & elsewhere. This fairly popular quote Dune describes one of the common reactions to the concept:

“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

Unfortunately, the various mythologies surrounding the concept of fear have produced various coping mechanisms that are inefficient at best and completely counter-productive at worst.

There are two school of thoughts with regards to overcoming fear: that of increased control and that of increased comfort. If you’ve read Pat Stedman’s thoughts on relationship conflicts it might occur to you that successfully dealing with fear is not dissimilar to managing relationships with a woman.

The control practitioner attempts to deal with fear by minimizing risk. IE: guys who are afraid of being sucked dry in a divorce will avoid getting married in the first place.

The comfort practitioner attempts to deal with fear by accepting that the thing they fear might come to pass. They might fear being sucked dry in a divorce but accept the risk to reap the rewards.

The worst (and increasingly, the most common) response is to pretend it doesn’t exist and avoid having to deal with it altogether (NOT the same thing as avoiding your fear, which is a control response).

I think fear is good. The widespread enjoyment of horror movies and video games would indicate that, on some level, even the physiological responses to it aren’t seen as inherently unpleasant either.

The reason why I think fear is good is because it acts as a sensor or a warning system (depending on the scenario). I myself naturally lean towards the control side of things, I like having command of my environment and I like knowing as much as possible at all times.

Fear produces unpleasant feelings, but it also produces urgency and anxiety that can be properly channeled into action. All the progress I’ve made in my life has been the product of taking the energy created by fear and turning it into action.

One of the insights born of my recent dabbling with monk mode is that most negative reactions have a closely related positive reactions, and transmuting the former to the latter can often be done with as little as a change in perspective.

I can’t say I’ve mastered this process, I am in fact just a beginner, but in this case fear can be transmuted into excitement. Sometimes we do this naturally (IE: we’re afraid to start a new project, but once we do we forget that we were afraid and just really get into the work we’re doing), and I suspect masochists are just people who have a naturally high aptitude for this kind of transmutation.

And this is where my issue with the above two schools of fear management come.

The control school (to which I am naturally inclined myself) attempts to minimize fear, wasting its energy and potentially limiting themselves from experiences and courses of action that would greatly enhance their lives.

The comfort school practitioners, on the other hand, dull their senses for the sake of psychological relief, which becomes wasteful at best and downright dangerous at worst.

Fear should come naturally whenever you push against boundaries and limitations that stand in your way, and you should feel it fully to both use its energy and be aware of the risks you’re facing.

Don’t let it rule your life but don’t let it become irrelevant either. To be able to see we have to deal with the occasional bright light.

ADDENDUM

As if by divine intervention, I experienced a nightmare the morning after writing this post. I don’t remember every detail, but it involved a dying man in a hospital bed, some sort of gauge,him materializing a blindfold and lots of full body twitching.

Unsettling.

Which was a perfect opportunity to experiment with the practical concept in this article. And it took only a few seconds to turn the fear into excitement about starting a new day. It still took a while to get out of bed though (sadly, excitement and laziness are not mutually exclusive for me).

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