The Mind Killer

posted in: Mind Tools, Shop Manual for Men | 2

Many of the articles here at Best Tools For Men are on mind tools. Ideas and actions that make you a better, more successful man. But there are things that can kill our minds and defeat us before we even get out of bed. The chief of those is fear. Being fearless is the goal you and I need to achieve everyday. We all fear something, some of you fear a lot of things. Fear paralyses both the body and the mind. Can you and I really be fearless?

In the novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert, the main character, Paul, is tested by putting his hand in a box of pain. If he pulls it out he will be killed. In his mind he says the following over and over,

“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.”

Fearlessness is letting the fear pass over you without reaction or response to the fear. Soldiers in battle experience fear, but their training prevents the fear from causing a fatal reaction. For years I had a quote from an article on my wall by an Army general that read, “Soldiers perform in battle, what they are in the habit of doing in training”. All of the training with live fire exercises, and marching till exhaustion and still being able to strip and assemble their weapons, trains them to act from habit during extremely high stress and fearful conditions. They are trained to take action, freezing under attack is deadly, and they are taught that any action is better than no action. Fear is the mind killer. Kill the mind, and you kill the man. If you can’t kill him, then scare him into inaction.


In practice there are very few things that we fear that will result in our death, so militias over the centuries have developed psychological tactics to produce fear in their opponents that lead to inaction and/or withdrawal from the battlefield. They take all kinds of forms from making the opponent think they are outnumbered or surrounded, to dropping leaflets from airplanes to discourage action, to radio broadcasts to demoralize. The common denominator is a plausible lie that causes enough fear to delay or prevent action.

The bully you faced as a kid used psyops on you to get your lunch money without even physically harming you most of the time. Yet, if you don’t give in and instead fight back, the bully usually retreats. You are the target of psyops every day. Whether it is the feminist imperative, or equalitarian thinking, or the psyops of everyday advertising, much of it is based on fear of not fitting in. Fear of being a victim of a “point and shriek” attack by the thought police. Fear keeps you a nice compliant sheeple.

Fear is the little death.

Are you obliterated? A nothing or nobody? It is because you fear. You are afraid to stand up for what is right. Afraid to ask that girl for her number. Afraid to ask the boss for a raise. Afraid to challenge the status quo when you know there is a better way. You die little deaths every day. This is not the way a man should live. I wrote in another section about risk taking and this kind of fearfulness prevents any risk taking that can lead to great rewards for you. Nothing ventured (because of fear), nothing gained. Stop living an empty, meaningless life. Learn to conquer fear.

Confrontation or Avoidance

“I will permit it to pass over and through me”. Our default response to fear is avoidance, yet the proper response is confrontation. Face the fear and take deliberate action. I do not like high places, but I do like flying. Looking at a picture of someone leaning over the top of a tall building creates a physical reaction in my gut. The same happens in when I go up in glass elevators, yet I do not avoid them. I face the feeling and do it anyway. The more you do it, the less the reaction until one day, you don’t even have the reaction. This is why the PUA’s (Pickup Artists) teach you to keep approaching girls to break down your fear of approaching. I don’t do martial arts, but I hear that the same approach is used there in sparring. You get used to getting hit so you no longer fear it, because fear will make you forget your routine, whether it’s executing a leg sweep on your opponent, or forgetting what you were going to say to that girl as you approached her.

You must always confront and act on your fear by starting off with small frequent steps and working up from there until you can act freely without the fear clouding your mind. Be incremental. Make this a daily system of confronting and acting on your fears and you will quickly retrain yourself.

Only I remain.

In overcoming your fears you will discover yourself. I hate to use the touchy feely term of “finding yourself”, but in this case you actually do find out exactly what you are capable of as a man. Sure, you and I have limits. No amount of fearlessness in me, is going to change the outcome of my going up against an MMA fighter. Even without a drop of fear, I will lose. The point is that we vastly underestimate what we are capable of. We need to fight to failure, and because we train, that point of failure is a moving line. We can go further the next time before failing. There is a concept going around today in business of “failing fast”. What that means is that you take many small incremental steps instead of huge leaps so that when failure does come, and it will, you can recover quickly from the failure and take action to overcome or work around the failure. Failure is just another thing you should not ever fear, you should seek it.

What remains of you after doing this will greatly surprise you and those around you. What remains of you will be confident and bold. You will be a man’s man.

2 Responses

  1. From the first time that I read “Dune” (and saw the film), I was always impressed by Frank Herbert’s Bene Gesserit litany against fear. However, my studies of self-hypnosis and mind-programming taught that in order to be effective, all references must be in the present tense and that all of the commands must especially have imperatives that are positive, not negative. Therefore, I only slightly altered it to, “I refuse to fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is that little-death that brings total obliteration. I turn and face my fear. I permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I turn the Inner Eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there is nothing. Only I remain.”
    I have used my own version of this litany many times when I was afraid of different situations (such as working aloft during my Navy career; I had a fear of heights, and part of my duties required having to go on my ship’s masts and performing maintenance on my system’s radio-link mast amplifiers. A few different times, I was quoting this litany to myself while I was doing my work.)

    On another note, probably the best thing that a man can do is go into the military; in boot camp you can gain discipline, find out what you think your limits are and how to go beyond them, and see what you are actually capable of doing.
    One of the proudest accomplishments of my life was graduating Navy boot camp — before that time, I didn’t think that I could run a mile in less than four minutes, do seventy push-ups in less than two minutes, or be able to sleep standing up. Pushing yourself beyond what you think your limits are and accomplishing them, was probably the best lesson that boot camp gave me. Just as one example, I know that it helped me later on while I was attending my primary and advanced training classes for my systems’ maintenance and operator’s schools.

    • I agree with the present tense. All mine are in the format “I Jeff am fearless”, etc. Was just reading Cernovich’s latest “MAGA Mindset” and Trump has used this same method for decades.

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