We concluded part 1 of The Nature of Fear with the idea that our instinct and intuition are often sending us fear signals that should be heeded, but are often rationalized away because we also fear their truth and the choices we need to make. In part 2 we continue this examination and conclude.
Constructive vs Destructive Fear
As previously stated, quite often our intuition and instinct speaks very clearly, but because we have removed ourselves from our natural self, that signal has become foreign to us or too subtle sounding to take heed. The mission then becomes reacquainting ourselves with these signals and learning identify this inner voice. These valid signals also need to be distinguished from the warnings which often betray us.
There may be underlying fears that undermine our happiness and success that, while convincing, are self-destructive aspects of our doubts and reliance’s thereon. In addition, there are also manufactured fear-based scenarios where none exist (delusional or irrational fear), or entering into harmful scenarios in an attempt to recreate familiar patterns of fear (self-destructive fear).
To continue, the type of fear that is based more on programming and expectation than actual instinct can take on some rather insidious forms such as deeply rooted insecurities which can overlay a fear of abandonment, inappropriate self-expectations, and issues surrounding failure or betrayal. Other similarly based fears are social phobias, which can stem from rejection and a fear of failure. In all truth, both are fears of failure.
Fear & Failure
One is directly a fear of failure where the objectives possesses an anxiety to the subject which feels under-qualified to accomplish the task, and the other is a failure of upholding the performance once committed to. Fears of commitment are often of this type, those than can achieve but fear their abilities to “carry the façade” as they see themselves as truly inferior and succeed despite themselves. Interestingly, these polar fears, the fear of Success and the fear of Failure are often very similar in the manner in which people tend to display them.
This “irrational” fear, irrational because it betrays the senses, serves to undermine true motivations, hamper progress or growth and frustrates the individual thus creating a sense of failure, defeat and general unhappiness with the quality of life they are living. Pattern-Behavior fears tend to be fairly polar in their symptoms, creating a disposition where an individual is obsessed with the expectations or deny them outright. As an example, those with strong trust issues (The fear of betrayal) many have had to live with an imposed situation for some time in their lives. While the continuing fear possesses an aspect that aids in his or her personal survival, there is also the aspect that is debilitating – whereby choosing to eschew trusting anyone, or even suspecting everyone will betray you at some point and establishing a pattern of a repetitive and self-fulfilling prophesy.
Guilt & Shame
Some psychologists state that Fear, the actual apprehension or expectation of impending danger, stems from one common thread – insecurity – while others will view insecurity as a type of fear. Again, I draw to the idea that fear is about a perceive vulnerability which is expressed as insecurity, anxiety, etc. If we think of it as a matter of perceived vulnerability then we can see how it plays out through anxieties such as relationship betrayals, lacking skills or value, and being unable to sustain a desired state of life.
Insecurity can also be linked to similar motivating threads within feelings of Guilt and Shame. For example, if in a family with low approval and high perfectionistic demands, it’s not uncommon to develop fear/anxiety about doing enough, being good enough, trying harder, giving more. Taking the responsibility for the conditions in which one was raised can lead to guilt and push themselves to extremes to meet the previously unmet expectations in order to avoid feelings of rejection or disapproval. It’s an attempt to control the outcome (love, acceptance, approval) by Doing more.
On the other hand, instead of seeking what was previously denied, fear can also drive us to avoid or punish ourselves. Shame is something often experienced when we accept others views of low approval as evidence there is a need for punishment. The drive to “try harder” in guilt is instead replaced by the persistent sense of failure and can never attain love, acceptance, or approval.
Regardless of their particular shapes and forms, insecure fears exist. For some it was a learned experience over the course of a long life, while others have adopted these fears as part of the family or household programming. Still others are seemingly born with a certain predisposition, giving rise to behaviors that would likely be reinforced through experience – much of which may have been in their ability to avoid.
Particular situations that get a hold on one’s behavioral patterns strongly impacts how they perceive other issues and alters their relationship with fear. The option then becomes whether to confront it directly, to will oneself through that barrier, or to close themselves off – often not realizing they are blocking themselves from solving it.
And in all instances something indeed will give under enough pressure…
A person chronically fearful that their spouse will cheat on them may create such a negative and toxic environment that the wrongly accused partner will act out against it – resulting in abandonment, violence, or actually having an affair to justify the blame thrust upon them. An individual insecure in their skills, intellect and abilities may become so nervous that they second-guess themselves constantly and become ineffectual. This is a Fear that becomes paralyzing to those suffering from it.
To continually expect Fear may lead to a pattern of Fear Dependency, when pattern of fear has become so familiar it’s comfortable over something healthy and supportive. Several such instances include, but are not limited to (a) manufacturing scenarios which fulfill fear-based prophecies (self-justifying fears), (b) mistrusting moments of quiet stability, and attracted to situations of drama and chaos (familiar fears), (c) developing a habit fear avoidance via constant denial and/or distraction with manic paced activity or elation producing endorphins (e.g. getting high, drunk, constant sex, etc.), and a cemented pattern of fear that becomes a personality disorder such as various neuroses, panic attacks, paranoia, etc.
Fear is an important emotion – a signal that we need to pay attention. When functioning normally, it lets us know that we are somehow vulnerable, and to find ways to address it. This is best done by realizing in what ways we are vulnerable and adapting the necessary skills or self-talk to account for our insecurities. It’s a choice in doing your homework, either within yourself or for yourself.
When functioning abnormally, fear primes us to act but overrides our thought and takes control. In such cases we must find the help and support so we can learn to master those fears with new skills and resources, tempering our emotions with a wise-mind to see more clearly. It’s a choice to ask or accept help so that we can heal, learn, and overcome.
I’ll leave it with this final message from the song “Drive” by Incubus…
Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself
How much I let the fear take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I’m
Beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel
Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there
With open arms and open eyes, yeah
Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there
I’ll be there
So if I decide to waiver my chance
To be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine
And hold my own and drive?
It’s driven me before
And it seems to be the way, that everyone else gets around
But lately I’m
Beginning to find that when I drive myself, my light is found
Copyright Limits Unleashed
originally written 2000, updated & republished 2018