Health / Inspiration / It's my life! / Psychology

Fear and the power of imagination.

“Why do you have to be so strong? Why won’t you ask for help?”

It’s a frequent remark I get from my family, friends, and yes, even a counselor. The first time I received that comment, I laughed. I’ve never thought myself as being ‘strong’, and that comment left me puzzled. I am afraid of so many things.

I am not afraid of creepy crawlies, or animals, or the future, or death. But, I’m terrified of pain, and large volumes of blood, and in some ways, people.

I am also afraid of the unknown paranormal world. Let’s leave the overly glorified suave Transylvanian vampires (thanks to Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer, Charlaine Harris and so on) or hunky werewolves (Jacob Black), and think of pale poltergeists, green-faced goblins, bloody banshees with guts hanging out, devilish demons, and the creepy Chinese vampires who hops around wearing ancient Chinese clothing instead.

“Do they exist? Do they not exist? And, even if they do exist, they wouldn’t just randomly harm or scare innocent beings (like me) just for the fun of it. Would they?”

Image via Wikipedia

No one knows how or what they think like, or whether they even exist. Sometimes I feel the suspense is the one that drives me crazy. I am often tempted to wish to actually see one harmless poltergeist (a ghost like Casper wouldn’t be too bad), but that will be a point of no return for me, and that’s too terrifying to contemplate.

A month ago, my friend enlightened me about the ‘Human Centipede’, a 2010 Dutch film. My annoying curiosity drove me to Wiki the synopsis after our conversation. After that, for days, I had a fear whenever I’m alone in a public place, I might see something unbearably monstrous like a human centipede and get traumatised for life.

I try to avoid horror films and stories as I often let my imagination run loose, which makes me experience a long-lasting aftermath. Two years ago, I watched ‘1408’, a film based on Stephen King’s book, and I haven’t fully recovered. Till now, I am still slightly afraid of the dark (What if I see something I don’t want?), heights, and looking at myself in the mirror (My god, what if my reflection winks and waves back at me).

I think this fear might be a psychological side-effect of accidentally watching ‘Chucky’ when I was young (I need to ‘thank’ my uncle for this). Paradoxically, although I know this this fear is irrational as I am a firm believer of the power of the mind and shaping your mindset, it’s still scary.

bitter on valentines day

Image by Runs With Scissors via Flickr

But, my greatest fear is becoming a bitter person who is tired, bored and lethargic of the world. Because of the unpredictable and sometimes tumultuous nature of life, it is easy to fall into this hostile and resentful stream of thought. All you need to walk the road to bitterness is a problem at hand with no breathing time but enough time to conjure up a few more unrelated issues and to weave a story around them that the entire world is against you. That’s all you need.

I have met many embittered people, be it colleagues, family or strangers, stuck in their warped mindset where they blame everything on everyone else except themselves. The more I know them, the more I fear of myself turning into them in the future.

Yes, so I admit that I have many fears. I’ve listed only a few here (others are more personal). Fortunately, I’ve found ways to manage them. Thus, to others with similar fears, I will offer some good counter-attacks to handle terrifying imaginations, and difficult situations especially when things fall apart, one by one.

When it is dark at night and when the mind starts running loose, I’ll control it by repeating that “It’s all in the mind. It’s all your imagination”. And, if that doesn’t work, I’ll start chanting the Three Refuges to take refuge in the Buddha, Sangha, and Dharma until I’m at peace again. If you believe in another religion or none at all, it doesn’t matter. You just need to chant or sing something calming or soothing to distract your mind away from those thoughts.

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Image by *brilho-de-conta via Flickr

For difficult situations, one method is to take a breather. Just rebel, stop doing everything that troubles you for a moment, and take a deep breath. Unless it’s a life-and-death situation, nothing is that bad and everything is temporary. At those times, I usually read a good book, or listen to music, or take a walk, or bake. But, the most effective method for myself is to write surrounded by greenery and soothing cricket sounds.

When you are much calmer, confront those feelings. Don’t lie to yourself. Only when you are honest to yourself about the situation, you can find better ways to solve the matter. In Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute/Die Zauberflöte’, the three lady assistants padlocked Papageno’s lips for sprouting lies. Upon unlocking that padlock, they all sang,

If only all liars were given
Such a lock on their mouths;
Instead of hate, defamation and black bile,
Love and brotherhood would endure.
Instead of hate, defamation and black bile,
Love and brotherhood would endure.

Forget the Masonic elements. The verse reflects a nice truth, doesn’t it?

Another method is whenever you feel yourself spiraling into the path of disillusioned darkness, imagine an embittered person you know. This is a mean method, but it works (if you are a Glee fan, you would know why this is not nice. Watch this episode: ‘Never Been Kissed’ in Glee Season 2). It works because it turns you off from such angry, poisonous thoughts and will only serve to strengthen your resolve to not end up that way, come what may.

The bottom line is everything is in the mind. Problems are often exaggerated. Maybe this is some sort of survival instinct, making things worse than they actually are, to increase the drive to protect oneself.

“The mind is everything. What we think we become.” – The Buddha

We should never underestimate the power of imagination. Pure imagination gives us the wings to do anything and to conjure things that were never there in the first place.

Original version, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
This is spectacular: Original music, with a wonderful Pixar-Disney animation: 
My favourite. A much sweeter version by the Glee cast: 
A more modern version by Maroon 5: 

2 thoughts on “Fear and the power of imagination.

  1. I have a strong imagination too…which can be wonderful when I use it in a positive directions. But when I go the other direction…not so good. And so I keep this reminder up on the refrigerator…wish I had learned this when I was younger. But better late than never, right?

    And, yes, the lessons and understandings are all there in the teachings of the Buddha……

    my best to you…chrissy

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