This ter'angreal weaves traps for you from your own mind, weaves them tight and strong, harder than steel and more deadly than poison. That is why we use it as a test. You must want to be Aes Sedai more than anything else in the whole world, enough to face anything, fight free of anything, to achieve it. The White Tower cannot accept less. We demand it of you.
Sheriam Sedai, The Great Hunt, p. 293
To become Accepted, Nynaeve must face her fears, and not just spiders in the dark. The entire ceremony is completely voluntary, although not without significant consequences for choosing to quit partway through. Initially, the test for Accepted seems a weird Marley and Scrooge romp through past, present, and future to become part of a cohort - is it a real test, or simply a method of hazing? What is the true purpose of this exercise?
Military organizations tend to use similar, albeit more physical, benchmarks to ensure trainees have what it takes to continue the training. Many trainees are in love with the thought or the idea of being part of that elite team or special organization, but lack the commitment to follow through when times get tough. And a mile of burpees is a tough time. It's not hard to imagine the White Tower has the same concern about their novices' commitment.
Such tests can also be a chance for introspection and assessment of one's own capability as a leader. Following the theme of past, present, and future, Nynaeve could ask herself:
- What have I done in the past that I can learn from? What were some of the other possibilities and why didn't I choose them?
- What am I doing now that is causing conflict with this decision or action?
- What possibilities can be imagined for the future if I make (or don't make) this decision?
By shifting the problem view away from fear and towards a more positive connotation, like possibilities, we have the opportunity to bypass getting stuck on being afraid. It's a mental trick to circumvent the hurdles our own mind throws up in front of us.