Fear is an Indicator

Another excellent post from Leslie Householder. This one was about finding solutions instead of giving in to fear. When she mentioned fear, it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes. It is from Frank Herbert’s book, “Dune”. He called it the “litany against 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.

I think of this quote often. It may come from a science fiction novel, but it presents a true principle. Fear can control us, or we can control fear.

If you stop and think about it, fear is nothing more than an indicator. Like pain. It is neither good nor bad of itself.

Here is my definition of fear:

Fear indicates that you are in a situation in which you are unsure of the outcome.

Fear indicates an opportunity for you to choose. You can choose to let your mind run rampant with thoughts of all the bad, and usually unreasonable, things that could happen. Or you can choose to let you mind run rampant with all the wonderful possibilities that have just opened up before you.

I have on several occasions explained to my oldest son that fear is exciting. This is true. Fear can be a great motivator. Fear is like putting your foot on the gas pedal of fast car and pushing it all the way down. This excites the car and makes it go really fast. This is neither good nor bad of itself. It is merely an opportunity. If you choose to do nothing (like grab the steering wheel) the car will careen out of control very rapidly until it is impeded by something with enough mass to cause it to suddenly stop. A better choice is to grab the steering wheel and direct the car where you want it to go.

Fear is exciting. If you choose to do nothing with it, you will probably find yourself huddled up in a blanket in the corner of your closet. On the other hand, if you re-train yourself to recognize fear and then choose to use the energy that it invokes in you, you might just find yourself doing amazing and wonderful good things that you did not know you could do.

What are your thoughts on fear?

4 thoughts on “Fear is an Indicator”

  1. These are very good points. It reminds me of a question my wife had the other day. She asked if the spirit ever manifests itself in the form of fear. “Of course not” I thought. But now I wonder… I mean, we all feel different physical manifestations when the spirit speaks to us. Like burning in the heart, crying etc. Those feelings are independent of the actual act of having the spirit speak to our spirit. So if the spirit speaks to our spirit and says something we’re not thrilled about doing, I think fear, per your definition, is a viable physical manifestation. It’s an indicator of a choice requiring an act of faith where we may not be sure of the outcome but know we need to act in spite of it.

  2. Hmmm, well it is certainly worth considering. Although, my initial reaction is to blame the fear reaction entirely on the natural instincts of the physical body. The survival instinct is what triggers the flight (fear) response. But I guess perhaps that could be activated by an external source. Thanks for the though, Andy.

  3. Well to Andy I would say the spirit speaks with a voice of warning sometimes, doesn’t it? But I guess I’d associated fear with warning and really they’re not the same thing…

    I’m impressed by what you wrote regarding choosing to do nothing in the face of fear, because frankly that seems to be exactly what I do. And one gets tired of crashing. Or of being huddled in the corner wondering what horrible outcome fate will bring, when in fact the worst outcome possible would to be stuck there forever! What do we have to fear more than the possibility that we’ll never become the sort of people God wants us to be?

    A song and a scripture keep popping into my mind. From “How Firm a Foundation”

    “Fear not I am with thee, oh be not afraid! For I am thy God, and do still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand”

    And for the scripture, I’ve recently bumped into Mosiah 24 a number of times, at home, at church, etc. I think about the fear Alma and his people must have felt, and the choice they made: They poured out their hearts to the Lord.

    Faith trumps fear, this I know, but what I’d forgotten is that faith typically needs some sort of action to work well. Guess its time for me to grab that wheel and steer! 🙂

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