“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.”

― Frank Herbert, Dune

The last few days I have been thinking about what sometimes keeps me from reaching for the sky. Not that I feel like I am destined for anything great or that I somehow am anything special, but I have always had a lot of ideas and never really managed to make anything of them.

I am, as readers of my blog know, very introspective and cautious, at least I used to be. When it came to my writing I would spend hours in my early twenties just writing and thinking up new scenarios. I wouldn’t share it with a lot of people. My girlfriend at the time was one of the people I trusted the most and I would share stuff with her, but as far as sending stuff to editors or producers when I wrote screenplays, I was more worried.

Even though I would act confident in social occasions and would try to be the talkative guy, I was never really comfortable with it. I would worry about what people really thought about me and if they really meant what they said when they told me that they loved my ideas or they laughed at my jokes. Looking for ulterior motives is not a nice way of spending a Saturday night, so after a while I just stopped. The fear of what other people thought of me got to me.

When my girlfriend then left me, it became a confirmation of what I already thought. At the same time I lost most of the shared friends we had, because most of them had been friends of her, so I took that as another proof that I was not worth the effort. The fear really got to me and as a result I avoided getting to attached to people. I would have no problems with going out with people, but slowly I would not make the effort and people got fed up with it.

A good example of this was when I was involved with another writer. She was great and I loved the discussion we would have, but all of a sudden it just stopped. I never really understood what happened, but I was in a fog at the time and I think once again fear got to me.

When I look back at my life, I do see fear dominating a lot of what I did not do, and I think that is far more of what is behind the resistance I feel when I do not write. I can sit down in front of the computer and unless I get into the mindset of just writing, my mind wanders into the area of worry and fear. Since I have a very active imagination, my mind can go into some very negative spirals that can lead to me just needing to numb my mind, either through intoxicants or through distraction.

I have found a few ways of combating this tendency of mine. Firstly I post things on this blog and you guys, my readers, seem to react very well to them. Secondly I challenge myself in areas I am uncomfortable in. Whether or not it is through exercise or standing next to tall building, something I was never able to do in the past, just attempting it, gives me a lot. It is all about setting goals that are modest and treating every goal reached as a victory, no matter how minor it is. Recovery is a hard road, especially if you have allowed fear to rule your life for 37-38 years.

Hope this is of help to someone.


JH Lillevik is a writer of sci-fi and fantasy. He writes screenplays, novels and short stories. He also works as a writing consultant for upcoming writers. His specialty is mythology, world building and psychology.

One Comment on “Step by Step: Fear

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