Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

Know your self.jpg

Sometimes the answers we seek have already been learned but we are too proud, to scarred or too weak to accept the reality. Sun Tzu knew this thousand’s of years ago in ancient china. The full quote goes as such:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are two aspects of this quote, one the good strategy of studying your enemy is something I can talk about another time as I want to focus on knowing your self.

Fear is a powerful thing. It is a built-in biological mechanism designed to protect us from harm and death. Once upon a time, this was good when the threat was lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! But now in the modern world, we are still using these mechanisms designed to protect us from predators against things like homework, large social structure, modern workplaces, social media and generally far too much stimulus than we are really designed to handle.

What this means is that we often create fear where none need exist.

but did you die.jpgI often say when teaching the only real fail in self-defense or in general is death.

So you are worried about being judged, even if you are judged, did you die?

So you lost your match, but did you die?

So what, you failed your final exam, but did you die?

We often for one reason or another either from external pressure or internal ones activate the fear mechanism to not do something or to stress out when we dont need to. This is not good. If you are stressed due to a perceived fear then you will not be able to focus or perform as well as you can. Which means it might just actually all be in your head. This is what the knowing your self aspect of the quote means. If you are unable to control your emotions and fears in any given situation you will not be able to do the best that you can. If you take every “Failure” as a learning experience then you will ever grow stronger. But if you perceive every “Failure” as a near-death experience your body will treat it as such and you may just spiral into an unproductive fear loop that paralysis you and prevents you from the growth you know you are capable off.

Ask your self honestly, how well do you really know yourself. If you look deep and dont like things about yourself or your life then change it. If you learn what the issues are that are causing the fear it may even help you move forward. One thing is for certain is that if you only ever dwell in your fears than it won’t be better. For you and you alone have the power to change how you perceive things. Whether your fear something or not ask your self honestly, will fearing that thing or not fearing that thing cause you immediate death? If the answer is no, then guess what you have nothing to fear but fear its self.

So how well do you know your self? and what are you afraid of?

P.S. If you lived a full fruitful life, then death is not even something to fear for you will have left a lasting legacy behind you that hopefully caused the growth and development of the next generation of humanity.

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i-will-not-fear-bene-gesserit-litany-against-fear-frank-herbert

I recently experienced a situation which reminded me about the power of fear. Our lights needed to be replaced in the gym, and unfortunately for me, that meant climbing 2 stories up to reach the lights. We had to find a ladder tall enough and safe enough to get someone up there.

Given my recent surgery, I asked some of the other business owners to help go up the ladder. Unfortunately, none of us are big fans of heights, including me. Clearly, the fear of heights was stopping other people from doing what was needed to be done. So… up I went. It was not comfortable, I don’t like the heights as much as the next person. Yet, up and down I went several times.

Then, I hear one of them say, “Oh, but I’m scared of heights.”

I reply, “Dude, I’m terrified! But I am still up here.”

They said, “You’re a soldier. Soldiers do not fear.”

Pfft, whaaaaat?

This is, of course, nonsense because the common sense in the army is that you don’t want a soldier with no fear because those are usually the soldiers who get other people killed. Either that or they go on suicide missions and usually die in the process of taking out an enemy encampment, which earns them some kind of post-death award. Which doesn’t do anything…

Unfortunately, I don’t think I would get a post-death award for falling off a ladder.

You need fear. Evolutionarily, fear is a survival tool. Fear can be a useful tool to remind you that you are mortal, yes you can get hurt or die, and that whatever you’re afraid of is potentially dangerous. Fear of death is reasonable. However, not everything will kill you! The litany against fear in Frank Herbert’s Dune illustrates the best example of the power of fear and the even greater power of facing 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.

Ultimately, the greatest fear is… not knowing. The unknown is the most terrifying thing to everyone. Fear of the unknown is a fear that can freeze even the strongest of us. Thus, because the fear response is so engrained in our biology, we’re scared of things that don’t technically logically need to be feared. Going up the ladder feels scary because it’s high, but it is quite safe in reality because there are two people holding the ladder and at least five other people watching.

Being a soldier didn’t make me any less fearful of a situation, it just gave me the ability to learn to face my fears. I don’t forget about fear. I’ve simply learned that sometimes, even when you may be scared, a job still needs to get done. Some people are more accepting of fear than others, but it is not an excuse not to move forward.

In the end, life is about moving forward and getting things done. Sometimes, that means facing your fear. Maybe as a species, we can’t out-logic fear yet. But we can face it. Fear is not an excuse to stop moving forward. Know fear, use fear, and keep moving forward.

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy,

understand him well enough to defeat him,

then in that very moment I also love him.”

-Ender from Orson Scott Card’s Enders Game, 1985

It is also the moment you can defeat him.

Perhaps this quotation has been said, written or thought 1000 times. To me, this quotation defines the difference between a true self defense style and just another martial art.

Because you see, the real enemy is death (read: the unknown).

In that split second when your life is on the line, accepting death as part of life is often the difference between the end for you or for your enemy. When you truly understand your enemy (read: death), you can fight in defense of your life without holding back.

The quotation above is from the adapted film Ender’s Game by Gavin Hood (now available on Netflix), based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card. It is how the protagonist, Ender ends his war against the enemy. Although he is duped into believing his war is a simulation, this mindset allows him to forgo his emotions and giving his all to win. The key is to “understand him [the enemy] well enough” because if you know too much and/or think too much about what might happen, you are lead to inaction. In a life or death scenario, that means it’s your end not theirs.

This is what a self-defense scenario could be like.

As the defender, if you hold back in the moment for fear of death, then you most likely meet your fear. But when you embrace death as you love life, you let go of your fears and give it your all to fight for your life without fear of death, and thus increase your ability to defend yourself.

Recently, someone in a manner of incoherent rage attempted to insult me by insinuating that because the core of what I teach is self-defense, I am somehow less a fighter or a warrior. While in the ring or cage many opponents are likely to beat me, this does not bother me because this is not why I train, or what I teach. (Unless, of course, I am training someone for the ring.)

I do what I do, so that I may walk in peace knowing that, should the need arise, I will do all that I must to face my fear and come out the other end a survivor.

Training to preserve your life in that one moment is radically different than training to win a fight with rules and where death is unlikely. How many modern fighters would enter the ring if they knew death was certain?

Once upon a time, I know many more would easily take to such call, and now in modern society, many see this as barbaric.

Yet, such individuals understand something far better than many of us, and that is death. If you are not willing to fight 100% in that moment of need, and your attacker is, then they will overcome you with will alone.

If in that moment of imminent harm or death, you are too concerned with the law or what others might think, then you will surely meet that which you fear.

To train for self-defense is to train to walk in peace.

With the hope that you never need to use it. With the knowledge that you can control it. But with the wiliness to use it all at 100% should the need arise.

In Ender’s Game, Ender wins because he lets go and fights to win because he doesn’t see losing as an option. Yet, when he realizes the war was not a simulation and he has just destroyed his enemy, and not solely in self-defense, he feels anguish. He realizes what he did was not self-defense but something else, and because of this, the deaths of his enemy were in vain.

This simple yet complex idea is why murder is wrong, yet killing in self-defense is justifiable regardless of the scale.

This same mentality can be taken from the microcosm that is self-defense and applied to the macrocosm of war, as depicted in the film’s story.

Remember the real enemy.

If we forget even for a split second that death is part of life, then our enemy no matter the scale will surely overcome us. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Will they feel remorse after your death? Or will they feel something else entirely?” But in the split second moment of fear, you don’t have time to question. You cannot rationalize, you can only act.

With this, I leave you with a quotation from another literary masterpiece, one of my favorite quotations of all time — so much so that part of it is immortalized on my body:

“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.”

 -Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune, 1965

Written by: Jonathan Fader

Edited by: Zerlinda Chau