(Full disclosure: I’ve been struggling mightily to grow a couple of tomato plants so I may be blogging about all manner of gardening metaphors over the next month or so)
Then when you present your subject face to face in a dim room, with the most horrifying thing in the world (which I have on good authority is a ventriloquist dummy) you can tune in your fancy fear detector and get a reading.
Then you can get all kinds of creative with ways to measure fear.
- For example, put the ventriloquist dummy on the back of the bathroom door, so that when someone goes in to brush their teeth, they spot it behind them in the mirror (fear level 3).
- Suspend it by wires above their bed while they are sleeping so it is hovering over them, staring at them when they wake up (fear level 7).
- At your buddy’s wedding, when the priest says “you may kiss the bride,” and behind the veil: ventriloquist dummy! (Fear level 9).
So when I talk about rooting out the source of fear, am I talking about mulching your ventriloquist dummy? No, although I’m sure it would happen after any one of those scenarios.
The ventriloquist dummy is not actually the source of fear.
Because if you put the dummy in an empty room, and give him a pair of bloody machetes and the spookiest dialogue ever written… your fear detector still reads a zero. Therefore the fear originates somewhere else.
This whole dummy conversation has been a long, roundabout method of explaining that fear is in the mind.
Thought is the source of all fear.
That’s why babies are fearless when it comes to ventriloquist dummies, even though they should be terrified.
So, since fear originates in our thoughts, how do we root out those fear thoughts?
The less effective way is to think your way through them. To ponder, to rationalize, to intellectualize. Using thought to fight thought is like using fire to fight fire.
Words are much better at overcoming thoughts. We can overcome fear thoughts by verbalizing our defeat of them.
When you are confronted by a machete wielding ventriloquist dummy, just say to yourself, “Hey you’re head is made of plastic and even though you are the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen, I know that you can’t walk and are only standing in the hallway because someone crammed a broomstick up your bum and I can walk right past you and turn my nose up at you as if I were a rich socialite and you are beneath my notice.”
Your fear will disappear as you talk your way through it.
This process is not limited to overcoming your fear of dummies. It is actually a lot more useful at overcoming social fears, those things that we as adults have learned to be afraid of.
If you have been dreading making an important phone call to a client, talk yourself into dialing: “This is an important call to an important client and I will definitely not get this account unless I call and make a great pitch and I’m picking up the phone and I’m dialing the number and I’m smiling… Hello.”
What fears have you been allowing to fester in your mind, when you can be carving them out with the power of words?