Why are we fascinated by things that terrify us? Fear can manifest itself in many forms. From scary movies to thrilling theme park attractions, people seem to unanimously enjoy the rush of adrenaline induced by the sense of fear. The next time you seek out a haunted house, chilling ride, or Halloween-inspired movie — consider the underlying reason that you want to overcome your fear.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” -Nelson Mandela
THE RED ROOM
The Haunting of Hill House is one of my personal favorite horror series. It cleverly addresses the concept of fear from a unique perspective. An ominous red door concealed the biggest mystery. For some reason, it was the only room within the house that could not be unlocked. The intriguing narrative depicts how individuals react to traumatic events differently. Fear is interwoven with grief and coping on the path towards healing.
Throughout the series, we see several flashbacks. Each character was portrayed doing a seemingly normal activity inside. However, they were unaware of the sinister reality. The foreboding room had lured every resident into a false sense of security. They were slowly being digested by the house within the red room. Ironically, nothing directly caused them to be afraid during that time. The room had put on a facade beckoning them inside — an illusion of safety.
Within our daily lives, we seek out situations that elicit feelings of fear so long as it is controlled. When fear becomes a tangible threat to our survival or if we feel a lack of control, we tend to avoid it altogether. Ignoring what evokes our fear often gives us a false sense of security. We feel safe where we are comfortable and complacent. If we spend our lives circumventing what scares us, we will never allow ourselves the opportunity to grow.
My parents taught me how to swim when I was a year old. I absolutely loved the sensation of propelling myself through the water. They jokingly called me a fish since my ability to swim seemed to come naturally. Whenever there was an opportunity, you could find me happily swimming.
Several years later, I recall being at the beach. My only prior experience was swimming in a calm, peaceful pool or lake. I had not practiced or anticipated what to do when a large, intimidating wave approached. My flight response kicked in as I tried to swim away from the crashing waves. I found myself getting pulled back towards the very current that I was fighting to escape.
The next thing I knew, my body was tumbling around in circles underwater like a washing machine. Just as I felt as if my breath would escape, I washed up on the shore. Gasping for air and in shock, I ran to my parents. I was terrified to go swimming in the ocean again after experiencing such a traumatic encounter.
MIND OVER MATTER
Over time, my father taught me to overcome this phobia. He showed me how to face my fear head-on by diving through the wave instead of trying to swim away. As long as I trusted and believed in my ability to emerge safely on the other side, I would be fine. He was right. All I needed was the confidence in myself to embrace and overcome my fear of the waves. Once you are equipped with the knowledge to combat fear, it will never hold power over you again.
What we have to fear most is the manifestation of our emotions. It is okay to be afraid, but do not allow that feeling to paralyze you. Whether it be a fear of failure, loss, or the unknown — acknowledge it and know that you are in control. You will feel a sense of victory and accomplishment after confronting whatever it is that causes you trepidation and anxiety. Challenge yourself to face your fear sooner rather than later — or be consumed by it indefinitely.