“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. “
— Frank Herbert, Dune
I like that quote. I like it because it is very true, fear is the little death; it obliterates your mind and your common sense. Fear, if unchecked can destroy any good effort that you might achieve. Everyone gets nervous, anxious, and fearful. But if you let these emotions overpower you, YOU are lost…literally.
Let us take for example one of the biggest fears that people have; the fear of Flying. This fear is so powerful that many of us have had nightmares about it. According to the TIME magazine’s article What Are We Afraid Of?* the fear of flying is our biggest present fear and it even outranks the dreaded fear of public speaking.
But how do we define fear? Dictionary.com defines fear as:
1.a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Simple enough to understand; you imagine or perceive danger and you become fearful of possible danger??
If you have an image of a snake eating itself, then you have a basic understanding of what most fear really is. What this means is that you correctly or incorrectly perceive or imagine danger. This is a healthy thing and it allows you to steer clear of things that might harm you or worse kill you. But if what you have perceived or imagined is wrong, then you are really fearful of self created illusions which build on themselves until the snake eats itself out of existence.
The fear of flying is like this; you perceive danger but in reality flying is far safer than driving. It is actually one of the safest forms of transportation that we can use. The average airline pilot has a decade of flying under his belt, he is using top of the line equipment that has to meet rigorous testing and your entire flying experience is coordinated by hundreds of trained professionals. Compare this to the average highway trip and you begin to get the basic idea.
But, what about if you perceive danger and there is danger. Let’s take a closer look at the fear of public speaking. What about if you have to give a speech in front of a large audience and your future depends on you doing a good job?
Then you have a righteous fear. You perceive an obstacle that can make you or break you. You have to stay aware and focused because if you screw it up, you are done. Certainly then fear is good , it keeps you focused?…Well yes it will make you very present orientated which is good, your sharp; but unless you have a great deal of mastery over yourself, fear will come on you like an avalanche and suffocate the life right out of you.
Fear does not have a dial. Its fight or flight, all go. Standing on a tarmac or on a podium, you have nothing to hit and nothing that you can run from.
So what do you do?
Well I hope that the following technique can help with this. It is very good and tried and tested, an old bald guy with a big moustache taught it to me. I like to call this technique ‘The Third Person’.
The best way to understand this technique is to think of the points of view that a story can be written in. A story can be written in the first, second or third person. If you write something in the first person, then you are writing about it from your personal point of view. Everything is me , myself and I. For example you can say, “ As I stepped on the stage, I saw the audience and I felt a nervous spasm pass over me. I was instantly scared out of my wits!”
Writing from the second person point of view involves talking directly to your audience. The writer will use a lot of ‘you’ language. For example, “You have to give this speech. It’s in your better interest so don’t screw it up!”
Lastly we have the Third Person point of view. Writers use more DISTANT language. There will be a lot of “he”, “she”, “it”, and “they” used. In this case, the writer is looking down on a scene, he is writing a report of what he sees from a distant position, usually seemingly above the epic scene below. “ As William stepped on the stage, he looked at his audience in fear and discomfort. He fumbled with his notes and prepared himself for his first words.”
Imagine if you could automatically put yourself into a Third Person perspective. What if you could get away from yourself, your fear, and from any terribly frightening situation in general? You could look down on yourself, separated from your emotions, seeing everything, and most importantly seeing everything with a clear vision that is not distorted by fear or anxiety. What you need to do to control your fear then is to start seeing everything in the ‘Third Person’.
To do this, imagine that you are having an out of body experience. Imagine that your consciousness flies up through the top of your head and in one instant you find yourself looking down at your body and the entire scene below.
From this position you can see everything that is going on around you and you can keep a special eye on your body below. Funny as it might seem, you can even control your body, sort of like a puppet master. Very cool.
HOW TO MASTER THE ‘THIRD PERSON’ PERSPECTIVE
I want you to practice the following exercise at home on your own until you feel very comfortable with the Third Person perspective. It will allow you to get into the third person very quickly, and through this technique, you will find that you will be able to conquer just about any fear. Actually as long as you have perfect concentration, there is no fear that cannot be conquered by this method. The goal is to be able to put yourself instantly into this new perspective, at the drop of a hat, when you need it most.
To begin the exercise I want you to take a comfortable seat in a quiet area. This designated area can be inside or outside but it has to be in a quiet place away from others. After you have sat down in your quiet area, I want you to imagine, with your eyes open, that you are somewhere else in the room. For example; if you are sitting on the bed in your room, I want you to imagine that you are standing next to the far wall on the other side of the room.
I want you to imaginatively look at the world around you from this new perspective. If you are imaginatively standing by a wall, then I want you to imagine what the wall from your new perspective looks like. Perhaps you are right next to the wall in your new imaginative location, do imagine that you can actually see the wall really close up.
You can touch the wall from your new location, since you are imaginatively standing right next to it. So touch the wall with your imagination with your imaginary hands and imagine how the wall feels. Feel the wall therefore with your second imaginary hand. Is the wall cold and smooth perhaps? Imagine what things feel like to your second self.
Do this with all your senses so that there is a real you that is perceiving one thing and a pretend you that is standing a few feet away perceiving things from a slightly different angle. You are creating a double for yourself. An imaginative double that can be anywhere you want him to be and can do anything that you want him to do.
This exercise will take time and good visualization skills but its fun and most people get good at it very fast. Keep your double close at the beginning of the exercises, no more than a dozen or so feet from you. The trick of the exercise is to try and imagine with each sensory organ what it would be like to be in the doubles position. See, hear, feel, smell, and taste through your double.
If the exercise seems to be too hard, close your eyes. Open them from time to time to get reference points so that you can picture yourself and your environment correctly but after you have taken a mental picture of your room, close your eyes and imagine yourself by the wall again.
Practice this exercise until you can keep your eyes open and still have two very different perspectives of your room. One is your actual physical perception and the other is the imagined perception from your double.
After you have become really good at seeing the things around you from your doubles perspective, I want you to look at yourself and see yourself as your double would see you. Weird stuff right! You are looking at yourself looking at yourself! Imagine again what it would be like to see yourself sitting on your bed from your doubles position. Practice looking at yourself from the new perspective until it becomes easy and second nature.
When you have a good grasp of the exercise above and are confident with your skill, I want you to go outside and imagine that your double is flying above in the air looking down on you. The double is not too high up, it’s about three to six feet above your head and a bit to the right.
Imagine once again what the world looks like to your double. Imagine what the world looks like through your doubles eyes, what and how does it see. What does the world feel like from your doubles position, what does your double hear and smell from up there. You certainly have a better visual perspective from your double’s point of view. Use this new visual perspective to your advantage, look at everything. Get a lay of the land.
When you are good at this newest variation of the exercise and are comfortable with your new imaginative doubles position, I want you to go for a short walk. Just a nice short walk around the block, but I want you to imaginatively see, feel, hear smell and possibly taste everything ONLY from your doubles point of view!
Try really hard to only keep the doubles point of view. This is a pretty hard exercise at first but with a bit of practice, you will be amazed at how good you can get at it. Practice this until you are good and can extend the length of your walk as much as you want without losing focus.
So let us tackle fear number one; You are about to get on a plane and you have cold sweats and there is a big possibility that you might lose your lunch.
Instantly get into Third Perspective. Hopefully you have practiced and are very good at imagining that a second you is flying three to six feet above your head and is looking down on you. Go to your double now. Imagine that you are up above looking down on your scared self.
Look through your doubles eyes, FEEL through your double. Look at all of the things around you through your double’s senses. Put most of your conscious self in your doubles place.
As you do this, and if you do this with enough concentration, you will notice that you will feel distant and detached from the scared person below. By changing your point of concentration, you will instantly change how you feel. By changing your point of view, you will see other angles and this will give you alternatives if you need them.
The you up above, your Double, is objective and detached. Maintain your focus on the perceptions of your double and forget about the feelings of the person below. You are an objective viewer of the happenings below. You are the puppet master controlling the avatar below+.
The idea here is to see your physical self like just one of many players on a play below. You are up above and you are watching the actors below. You can make the one main actor, your avatar, do anything you like, you have direct control over him/her. But during the duration of this trip and until you feel comfortable again, the real you, your conscious being is going to be seeing the world from the doubles perspective up above.
If it’s a long trip, then at anytime you can return to First Person position and see how you feel. If you feel panicky once you get back to first person, then go right back up to your double’s position. If you fall asleep, when you wake up you will most likely wake up in First Position and you can wake up a bit panicky again. If this is the case, instantly take a deep breath and go to Third position. Don’t worry, it’s that easy to quickly leave your First self and begin to see the world again from the Third perspective.
How about giving a speech in front of people? Well again you want to go into the ‘Third Person ‘ position. You have hopefully rehearsed your speech so that you won’t have to look at notes too much but if you do; you will find switching perspectives is very easy. You can read something from your physical perspective for example but you can instantly return to the doubles perspective up above.
Remember how I told you to think of the person below as just another actor in a play or show, well using this premise, let you actor/avatar/physical self act below. This is an easy task with a bit of practice, and you will not believe the results that you will get.
If the avatar needs to wave at the audience then have him/her wave. See the avatar waving from your position up above. Have the avatar smile and make eye contact with the audience. Forgot a line of your speech? Then have the avatar look at his notes, see through his eyes and then return to your higher position and continue with the speech.
When the tension is over and you find yourself in a quieter place again, then go back to First person. You should be able to switch positions now at a moment’s notice.
With this method; properly mastered and extensively practiced, there is no fear that you won’t be able to overcome. I hope you well.
*Thursday, Mar. 29, 2007 By BILL TANCER
+Those of you that are video game players and gamers in interactive worlds like ‘Second Life’ will have a great time with this exercise.