- Mental Health
What to Do If You're (Irrationally) Afraid of the Dark
Yep, you're an adult and not really religious or one to believe in the supernatural, yet every once in awhile, rarely, very infrequently you encounter that odd moment of primal fear, that little hint of "Oh no! Something's going to jump out of the shadows and...do something" when you're faced with the pitch black. Especially after watching one of those haunted house documentaries on the Discovery Channel. Or one of those psychologically disturbing, nightmarish horror movies where crooked-limbed monsters seem to want to eat you.
Er, uh, maybe reading the above paragraph is something you don't want to do if you're afraid of the dark.
Anyway, you know in your mind that there's nothing there, nothing to be afraid of. You know that there's no such thing as Satan (or if you think that there is, that he's unlikely to be after you, specifically), yet you can't help but get all shifty-eyed and cowardly as you inch towards your bathroom in the middle of the night after having watched Silent Hill a few hours earlier. In HD. Alone. With the lights off.
Not that this type of stuff happens to me, of course--don't be silly!--but I've compiled a list of a few things that hypothetically would have worked for me had I had this problem. Which I haven't and don't. Heh. Maybe they'll help you ease your suffering next time you're faced with it, though.
1 - Scare the Demons
They may not exist, but they're trying to scare you nonetheless, so scare them back. Stand up straight and tall in the dark and put on a scary, hideous face, baring your teeth and snarling. Hold your hands out in front of you like claws.
You have nothing to be afraid of now--the stalked has become the stalker!
Yes, you look like a weirdo doing this, but at least it's dark and nobody can see you! (Unless the spouse that you didn't want to disturb by turning off the dark notices that you're up and wonders where you went, then comes up behind you and turns on the light. Then you'll look like a weirdo, but it still would have been worth it.)
2 - Sing
No, really. This probably should be number 1 in a count down or something because I have found (hypothetically!) that it works the best. It totally (hypothetically!) makes me feel better.
Any song will do--even if it's a gloomy or sad song, or a song about things that freak people out, it still seems to work somehow. Perhaps it's because you're putting some kind of energy into something and it distracts you. Maybe it's just the feeling of exerting power or something with ones voice. Or perhaps you're a bad enough singer that it scares away the demons. Or perhaps demons just don't like singing, period. I don't know for sure, but it works.
3 - Look behind you frequently
Sounds counter-intuitive, especially since the creepiest feeling is the feeling of something that's been following you closely from behind (even if it doesn't exist), but that's the whole point. You'll turn around and see that there's nothing there. You'll come face to face with reality, and reality is a nice thing when what you're afraid of is a fantasy.
It helps also to look at how much you were brave enough to walk through already when you look back at how far you've come. Notice the details in the room (or, otherwise, your surroundings) and how they're actually harmless if you study them closely.
In fact, look behind you right now. Boo.
4 - Find a beacon in the dark
Look for some little sliver of light in the dark. A nightlight, the glowing digits on a clock, a piece of moonlight through the blinds (or, if outdoors, a streetlight in the distance or something similar), etc, and follow it. Allow it to light the path to your destination. Keep your eye on it like a goal and ignore the dark around you.
5 - Think of something erotic.
If you just try to think to yourself: "Don't think of something scary!" your mind will come up with the scariest thing it can think of just by virtue of the fact that if you're thinking not to think of something scary you have to think about the scary things you're trying not to think about first, so you can then filter them out and not think of them.
So, yeah, doesn't really work. Thinking "pleasant thoughts" is also too vague when you're groping for something to fill your head besides the thought of a ghost with teeth (?!) breathing on your neck.
Think of something erotic. It's the almost diametrical opposite of something scary. That will distract you. Probably.
Hope this helps.