This is based on a challenge I have joined on habitica, and I don’t know what to expect from it. The premise is to reimagine your emotions as people- heroes and monsters, specifically- and to describe them in more detail. This is my second post on the topic. All entries on this topic will be tagged with EmoHero, if only for my sake. If anyone is interested in looking at or joining the challenge, here it is.
Today, I’m going to write my first monster. The instructions are to “turn one of my negative feelings into a monster,” “to list its vulnerabilities,” and to describe “the most effective way to take it down.” Seems pretty straightforward, I guess. I will begin with fear. Just like last time, bold is the character and plain text is the concept.
Fear is… I wanted to say that it was large or hulking, but I honestly think that fear is probably rather small with deceptive powers. Like a toy next to a nightlight casts a giant shadow on the wall, fear is often harmless, but very convincing. I’m not sure how to approach this, because there are times when things are dangerous and fear is both accurate and helpful. I think that for the sake of this exercise, situations where it is reasonable to feel fear should be separated from the fear that I’m writing about. If I am in the path of an oncoming car, fear is actually trying to save my life by telling me to run, so in that situation, fear could be a hero if you think about it.
Argh! I’m just sitting here, stuck, because I can’t decide if I want to create 2 characters and reflect on the duality and the power that one draws from the validity of the other… or if I want to focus on 1 character and just avoid getting bogged down in complexity. Either path seems fine. I will try the duality route, I guess. Caution is the rational feeling, the one that tells you to run from things, people, and places that will hurt you. Fear is the irrational feeling that keeps you paralyzed by whispering danger in your ear, even when you’re safe.
Most people meet caution first. They encounter something loud, fast, hot, unfamiliar, etc., and it startles or even hurts them. Caution shows up and makes the child faster or stronger, and it enables them to escape. Caution stays by their side until the danger passes, and then it leaves. Caution is ready to come running at a moment’s notice to help us endure and avoid danger. As someone with a service dog, I admit that I can’t help but think of Dora right now. She performs several alerting jobs, so she watches and listens to me and responds when I need her. Maybe caution is a super dog! (Let’s just pretend that the ‘super pets’ phase in DC Comics’ history was a good idea for a minute, OK? Just roll with it.)
So, you meet caution, and it helps you, which means that when fear shows up, you can easily think that it’s caution again. That means that fear also looks like a dog in this scenario, but… I can’t imagine it as a healthy or friendly looking one. It also feels like I may discover its appearance on my own if I come back to this question later, so I’ll move on.
Fear is a weak creature with powerful illusions, which makes it an energy type monster. With most casters, energy wielders, and support characters, the key to beating them is closing the distance between you and hitting them- hard. Sure, Cyclops’ optic lasers can punch you through a building, but he’s just as vulnerable to broken bones as a normal human. It makes sense, then, if the key to defeating fear is to get close to it before doing damage.
Let me think. There was an X-Man with mirage type powers… Danielle Moonstar, maybe? She could show people their greatest fear, and her role in battles was usually to… disorient people, I guess. Sometimes, she bought time for her teammates, so they weren’t fighting outnumbered. If I write more of these, I need to look for any teammates that fear might have- things that follow on its heels and strike me when I’m already vulnerable.
What are fear‘s weaknesses? I often get scared of things like walking into a room full of strangers, writing 2 pages of a project, asking someone I care about to make time for me when I’m lonely, exposing a weakness to my husband, attempting a skill that I haven’t mastered, etc. Here’s a few things I have found that are stronger than fear:
- Objective information- Sometimes, I can rationally see that the fear isn’t reliable or helpful.
- Another perspective- Because I know that my sense of danger is skewed, there are a few people I trust enough to base my actions on their view of the situation.
- Determination- Sometimes, I can also be too stubborn for fear to stop me from taking the next step.
- Support from others- When things are going to be difficult for a while (like when I’m struggling through the long process of learning a new skill), having others who are willing to walk beside through the ups and downs makes it possible to push through.
Overall, there are two approaches to defeating fear. The first is to invalidate its claims or break its illusions, and the second is to take action, even though the illusions still hold you.
Actually, now that I think about it, taking the time to examine fear‘s illusions is also the process of distinguishing between fear and caution. It’s like holding up a flashlight near them and figuring out who is looking back at you. I haven’t found a picture-perfect description of fear‘s appearance or anything, but every time I try to find one, I see something like a skinny dog with thin fur, like it has mange. Courage is a dog with thick, lush fur… like a golden retriever, perhaps. Fear also looks like it should be pitied.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because it can’t actually stop anyone from doing anything; fear needs you to believe it, or it’s powerless. If you don’t evaluate what it says or you don’t choose to move forward in spite of it, then fear can keep you trapped in a small life. If you ignore it or dispel its illusions, then all fear can do is watch you walk away and try to catch you later.
Now, fear has been one of the dominant emotions in my life, because I have been hurt very deeply, starting from a young age. Honestly, if you had asked me what I expected to feel at this point in the entry, it would not have been empathy, but I almost feel sad for fear. It’s hard to put into words, but it feels like…. I think fear has been hurt before, and so maybe it can’t go anywhere any more either. Like its leg is broken and it doesn’t want to be alone?
Does that make sense?
I think that if I encounter fear again, I need to walk up close, pick it up and bring it with me as I move into new territory. Because I probably will be scared, and the future will be uncertain, but I still need to move anyway. So maybe fear and caution can both come, and we can all go forward together until fear can recover and either dissipate or transform into something healthy.
Wow. This challenge is definitely more than I expected it to be. I think I will write a few more of these.