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Playing the 'Afraid' Card. Tuesday October 29, 2013

Here's the seventh in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Please add them to the comments at the end of this post. Many thanks. Caroline.

Today, it's the turn of the 'Afraid' card, which Moodscope defines as, 'feeling frightened about something.'

I remember a turning point in my relationship to 'fear'. Whilst Science Fiction isn't everyone's cup-of-tea, like all imaginative art, it can provoke insight. I was watching the film 'Dune' for the first time. In the film, the hero is put to the test – a test of fear. I was fascinated to hear him recite what is called the 'Litany against fear' in the book and film.

"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."

[Quoted from ]

There are many aspects of this ritual that I like, but I'll highlight just two: "I will face my fear" and the fact that fear passes. Fear should not be ignored – it should be faced. It may carry a message of genuine danger and so should be confronted, face on, to test its validity. I really like the idea of putting fear to the test rather than fear testing me! If the fear reveals a genuine danger, the danger can then be faced. If the fear is exaggerated, I have confidence that it will pass – but only after it has been dragged into the light of full inspection.

As soon as fear is faced it is inevitably perceived in a different way and can be acted upon. It is only while it remains in the shadows (or under the bed?) that it can continue to cast its strange power over us. I will face my fear.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 8:54am

I remember well the fear and anxiety associated with depression; they were elements of the illness that I had not expected - I had thought that depression was just deep, deep melancholy: not the exhaustedly wired and terrified state of dread and fright that made me feel really ill.
The fear manifested itself, in my imagination, as a terrifying abyss that drew me towards it - I literally felt 'on the edge' - the fear of falling in was overwhelming but there seemed to be no way around this awful, black hole in the ground..
I hope this doesn't sound twee but, forcing myself out for a walk one day, I came upon a large puddle that looked just like my abyss. It was the play of the light upon it and the reflections in it that made it look that way. It was horrible! But the sensible part of me that wanted to get well knew it was just a puddle so I persuaded myself to put a foot in the water and, of course, the puddle was only an inch or two deep and my foot hit solid ground disturbing and breaking up the abyss image. I walked through the puddle and every step was on solid ground.
Subsequently, when the 'abyss' presented itself to my imagination I simply let myself put my foot out, step straight in and walked/splashed across it. It was only an image, a con, my mind's trick, and quite swiftly my mind gave up that particular fear-inducing strategy.
If you have ever seen those amazing trompe l'oeil (sp?) chalk drawings of massive cracks in an urban street or pavement you will have been at first fooled by the artist's skill in representing a plunging 3-dimensional crevasse on a 2-dimensional surface. But then you realise that there is no crevasse or abyss and you could walk right across the drawing because, actually, the crevasse is just a picture on a flat surface - the ground beneath your feet would be solid and firm.
That's what I learned from the puddle and that realisation was a significant turning point for me in the diminution of my anxiety and eventual recovery.

arjay Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 9:07am

What a fantastic post. I suspect easier said than done but an incredibly inspirational concept, excellently presented, thank you. I am facing a particularly anxious time as we are about to relocate and I confess the fear is building the closer 'D Day' looms, but I shall write this out when I get home and adopt it as my mantra.

arjay Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 9:18am

Also, what beautifully descriptive and eloquent writing anonymous, I shall also remember the puddle analogy!

Anonymous Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 9:59am

Thank you for writing about the litany against fear! I once stumbled upon a great illustration of that quote on 'zen pencils'. It moved me very much. Maybe some of you are interested:

And thanks to the person who wrote about the abyss that became a puddle! I will keep that in mind.

The Entertrainer Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 10:05am

Perfect! Simply Perfect!

The Entertrainer Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 10:06am

If you like SciFi, I'd recommend looking up the quote. The film makes it more convincing still (for me at least!)

The Entertrainer Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 10:09am

That zen pencils link gave me goosebumps all over. Not a pleasant storyline but Wow! How powerful! Thanks for sharing that, I'm going to reblog it.

Nick Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 11:17am

Funny, despite being a fan of Sting (or at least the Police) I could never quite face the prospect of Dune. I'm an admirer of his bass playing but have no wish to see him in sci-fi underwear, thanks all the same. BUT, and here's the point: I like your excerpted quote about fear and am going to use that to tackle something very specific. It doesn't matter what, and don't ask ;) The fact is, this 'thing' is something that bothers me, but doesn't bother everyone. In fact some people love it. And so what makes me right, and them wrong. I've daubed it with a great dollop of meaning. And so have they. But they like there's and mine is just a bit upsetting really. So, as an experiment, in the lead-up to doing this thing again (again, don't ask) I'm going to smile at myself for all that unhelpful meaning I've added and really rather look forward to it, precisely for the reasons that other people might. I'll report back, and (maybe then) I'll tell all.

No, seriously, don't ask.

rachel Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 12:37pm

That's a brilliant post, thank you.

deedum Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 2:06pm

I appreciate any reference to my all-time favorite fiction book! The Litany Against Fear is my favorite quote from the book.

Anonymous Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 4:35pm

Thankyou, Lex. I read the book at seventeen, but had forgotten this mantra. I have copied it out in the front of my A4 notepad. Truly wonderful. Peace and Love.

Anonymous Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 7:49pm

Thank you for the post. I've always wondered, though, why the cards include both "scared" and "afraid." We could probably split semantic hairs all day, but for the purposes of the daily, broad scope, broad audience, tool, the terms are identical.

Moodscope Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 8:00pm

Hi there, it's a good point you are making about using both the scared and afraid cards when they are so similar. The adjectives we use come from the PANAS test, a thoroughly validated measure of mood. Sometimes psychological questionnaires ask the same question in different ways if it's important, and that's the case with the 'fear' category measured by the Afraid and Scared adjectives. Hope this helps.

The Entertrainer Tue, Oct 29th 2013 @ 9:46pm

Muad'Dib! ...again it is the Legend! I'm so glad to find kindred spirits from today's post... what a book, what a movie, what a mantra!!!

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