Few people who know me now, will guess that I once was a small frightened boy. At school always in the top five of math and science and Latin, but always one of the last ones chosen for the sports team. Not that I was not popular, or was bullied. I was just not adventurous. Always the shy guy. Admiring the girls from a distance. Never daring to take the first step. Following the well laid out path. Not straying.
Was I unhappy? I don’t think so. My parents took good care of me and actually left me a lot of freedom, but on the other hand never “pushed” me to be more daring or adventurous.
So my life simply carried me along. Finished high school with very good marks and went to University (Law School) and got my Master degree with Magna cum Laude. Started my trainee-ship in a law-firm for one year.
And then it happened: I was called up for military service. I opted for a reserve officer training, even though it extended my military service for 5 more months. I actually surprised myself by this decision!
I got chosen for a training as an Artillery Forward Observing Officer and in the space of 5 months I changed from a shy, let-me-disappear-in-the-background guy to a strapping 2nd Lieutenant of Artillery, top of my class. Somehow I got a gift for guiding artillery fires, so much even that batteries would get me “on loan” when it was time to do their annual test fires.
After 13 months of service I went back to the law-firm, but kept doing regular reserve officer training and courses.
What changed in me that I evolved into a fearless, daring new me?
Well, I had discovered the “Litany against fear”. It goes as follows:
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.
Whenever I had to do something frightening (rappelling down a wall; throwing life grenades; crossing a field with machine-guns firing above your head; and more such fun) I just said the Litany and that helped me.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not at all religious. Indeed I am a confirmed atheist, but this Litany strengthens me in times of trouble. In the end, only you can rely upon yourself and that is exactly what the Litany says.
Try it. It works!
And what happened to the let-me-disappear-in-the-background guy? He is still there. I can indeed disappear, almost become invisible for others, even -or especially- in busy areas. But that is another story.
- Litany Against Fear Nailed It: Talking Through Emotions Can Reduce Fear Response (geekosystem.com)
- The Litany Against Fear (fogcity.typepad.com)
- Fear Will Not Win (singleguyinnica.com)
- Fear less (policulsoc.wordpress.com)