I know this is the second “thought” post in quick succession, but while falling asleep last night I remembered something from my childhood: I could never sleep in the dark. My mind would fill it with all manner of things. The light in the hallway in front of my room would need to stay on. But my mind wouldn’t stop there.
When I turned my back to the door, I could almost feel all kinds of nasty things creep up on me, coming closer and closer until I would turn around – only to see that, of course, nothing was there.
Fear is an interesting thing. It always emerges from some sort of projection in our minds. From something our mind believes may happen in the future. And it is always about the future. Fear about the present moment simply does not exist.
Why? Because fear is always based on uncertainty. Uncertainty about how someone may react. Uncertainty about how we may perform in some future situations. Uncertainty about what we can’t make out in the dark.
This is insidious because our mind comes up with the fear, but there is no way for the mind to free us from it. There is no amount of logic in the world that will convince the mind of not being afraid anymore once it has crossed that threshold.
So, what can we do about our fear then? Fight it? That usually means suppressing it and, in doing so, ensuring that it will stay with us and control us. It never really works. Instead, the only real way out of fear is to face it.
Facing it doesn’t mean fighting it, though. Facing fear means accepting it. Surrendering to it. One night, while I was lying awake again, I switched off the lights. Turned my back to the door. And allowed myself to be consumed by the terrors of the night. If it was going to eat me, then this is how it would be.
As it turns out, I wasn’t consumed. And I never had a problem with sleeping in the dark since. Because as Emerson said: “Once we do the thing we fear, the death of fear is certain”.