Core Fear

As I dive deeper into myself and my own understanding, I am challenged to look at what are my core fear. What is fear? According to the dictionary online:

fear/ˈfir/

noun

  1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
  • a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone.
  • the likelihood of something unwelcome happening.
  • a mixed feeling of dread and reverence.

verb

  1. be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.
  • feel anxiety or apprehension on behalf of.
  • avoid or put off doing something because one is afraid.
  • used to express regret or apology.
  • regard (God) with reverence and awe.

What causes fear?

The universal trigger for fear is the threat of harm, real or imagined. This threat can be for our physical, emotional or psychological well-being. While there are certain things that trigger fear in most of us, we can learn to become afraid of nearly anything.

Fear is useful. According to Psychology Today, fear is what kept us alive when humans were more primitive living in more dangerous conditions. In today’s modem world, fear is more of an inconvenience.

For example, I have a fear of heights. I didn’t used to have this fear. I have repelled down the side of cliffs a number of times at church camp in my teen years. There was no fear there. I don’t know exactly when I developed, or why, I developed this fear of heights, but when I hiked the Grand Canyon in my late 30s, I couldn’t get within 2 yards of the edge of Mooney Falls because of this fear. I have this urge to throw myself flat on the ground every time I get that close to the edge. I even get woozy during a movie if there is a scene showing a major drop, like in the movie Skyscraper. It’s not anything I can really get hurt from, it’s just annoying.

The opposite of fear is calmness or confidence. I think we can agree, we all seek those emotions. Well, maybe not ALL of us. I know a couple people that thrive on drama, but that’s another discussion.

So today I want to understanding my core fear, in an effort to better identifying and understand my motivations. These things, after all, are what I put all my energy into avoiding. So if that is where my energy is concentrated I want to under why. For me, wanting to understand my core fear comes from a place of wanting to have better control over my core fear.

My core fear, as a Type 3:

  • being exposed as or thought incompetent, inefficient, or worthless
  • failing to be or appear successful
  • appearing to fail or look lazy
  • being unprepared or seeming average to others
  • being over shadowed
  • having to ask others for help
  • being caught embellishing the truth by putting on a polished persona for others to see

Fear of Being Thought Incompetent

It makes me crazy when people tell me things that #1, seem like common sense to me, and #2 is something I already know, and I know they know. People do this to me ALL. THE. TIME. That behavior leads me conclude that I am incompetent and therefore need those reminders.

One time Mark was doing this to me. He was telling me how to cook. He was reminding me to lock the door behind me when I left the house in the morning after him. He was telling me I should put deodorant on before I put my shirt on (I typically do that but this one morning I was having an off morning and I forgot and put it on after I have my dress on and then was annoyed I got deodorant on my dress).

I one day finally snapped at him and said, “Man, what is it that I am doing that makes you think I’m an idiot? You keep reminding me to do things that I already know to do. You must really think I am stupid.” He looked at me with a puzzled look in his face and told me that wasn’t it at all. He thought I was very intelligent. He told me he was just trying to be helpful and contribute to the moment. He said he was sorry and he never did anything like that again. (Proof, to me, that he did actually love me but that’s a whole other discussion)

Maybe if I had known feeling incompetent was a core fear of mine, I would have handled that differently. I know how aggravated i get then I have to deal with other people who are incompetent, so I should have put two and two together. Live and learn. I’ll do better next time.

Fear of being Worthless

Today I was going through my email and I still get the notifications of the mail coming to my old apartment with Mark. I have tried and tried and I can’t seem to figure out how to turn that off. It’s funny to see the junk mail come through. Today, however, a piece of mail for an “Alexis Villa” showed up on the notice. My heart sank. I was shocked. He already has someone else living with him? Now, I noticed the feelings coming over me and I did stop and notice what I was feeling. Anger. Hurt. Sadness. Rejection all over again. I felt insignificant and worthless. I was so meaningless to him that only 3 months later I could be so easily replaced.

This isn’t the first time I have felt like this. Both of my ex-husbands did this too. Brian moved Wendy in 3 months after our divorce was final. Chris moved in some female drug addict about 3 months after I left him.

I thought about my Enneagram type and one of my core fear, and how I was living it right in this moment. So I immediately owned these feelings and God and I had a little chat. I told Him how I didn’t like feeling like this and He reminded me immediately that it didn’t matter what Mark was doing, or what Brian had done or what Chris had done. I was, each time, just like now, in a much better place in life and it didn’t matter who they were living with then or now. God still has my best interest in mind and He has put me here to do amazing things! I moved through those feelings very quickly and I am very thankful and very proud of myself for using my new knowledge to not ride the crazy train for very long.

Fear of Seeming Lazy

Being on furlough is the hardest thing I have ever done. I’m just going to admit it. Not having a purpose from an outside force strains my brain! I have “not worked” before. When Brian and I first got married, we agreed I wouldn’t work. I would raise the kids. So I had a pregnancy, a demanding and abusive husband to keep happy, and then kids to take care of. When I was married to Chris, I had a husband that could slip back into addictive behaviors at any given minute and I felt like my job was to make his life peaceful so he didn’t feel the need to use again.

Right now, it is just me in a studio apartment that I just moved into, so everything is organized and clean. I have a really hard time “just laying around” doing nothing. I feel like I appear lazy if I do. The weather here has been mostly rainy, so sight seeing has not an option very often. That’s why I have made so much art work for my walls. It’s why I have taught myself to can food. It’s why I’m making an afghan for my queen size bed. It keeps me busy. And keep me from getting bored and lonely and, in my mind, not looking lazy.

Embellishing the Truth

When I younger, I had a best friend named Kim. We went to church together. Our parents were friendly. We did a lot together. We went to different schools and had many different friends, talents and skills. But we got along splendidly. Kim was so pretty. She had great fashion sense. She was smart and got good grades. All the boys liked her. She was “cool”. I wanted to be cool like Kim.

I can remember sitting in choir practice in the pews, while the soloists practiced, telling her stories of interactions I had with all the boys my first year of Junior High. Kim was a year younger than me and she hadn’t gotten to experience the gathering of multiple grade schools as this. All the new boys for me to long to have as mine. And because all the boys liked Kim, and I thought she was cool because of that, and I wanted Kim to be my friend, and I thought she wouldn’t be my friend unless all the boys like me too. And, well, I was tall, skinny, clumsy, red headed with freckles, braces and glasses. I mean a few boys did like me. Dean, Sean, Mike, Matt… And I was all of about 13 at this point in time. For some reason, those boys “liking me” wasn’t enough. I needed really cool boys to like me so I could impress Kim and she would want to remain my friend.

So we were sitting in the church pews and I decided I needed to tell her about an adventure I had with a boy at school. So we whispered in the pews, me telling her this tale, and she thought it was amazing! And I thought it was amazing that she thought I was amazing for having had this adventure.

It was about this guy, who I later learned his name was Mike. Stacy, my other BFF, and I were walking to our next class together and apparently I looked like I was staring at Mike, who I didn’t even know existed until he did the weirdest thing. He walked up to me and started making these kissing sound and saying weird stuff like “Oh do you like me?” and “You think I’m cute?” I honestly had no idea what he was talking about.

I didn’t know if he was doing this on a dare. If he was making fun of me because I was so ugly an awkward. Or did he actually think I was cute? I was embarrassed and tried to laugh it off, along with what seemed like the entire hallway of students. Stacy and I walked off together and were like, “What was that?” I kept my negative feelings to myself. Stacy and I didn’t really discuss the behavior and how it made me feel. We did nickname Mike “Smooch” and that’s what we called him the remaining 2 years we had with him. Turns out he was a year older than us and had a friend named Steve that Stacy had a secret crush on.

When I told Kim the story I spun it in a positive way – how he thought I was so pretty and he asked me to eat lunch with him and his friends and I told him no. I was telling Kim this totally fabricated story, well, not totally, the very beginning was true. But she was loving it and I was loving that she was loving it and that became the first tall tale that I continued to fabricate and tell adventures of interactions with Mike for the next 2 years.

And that wasn’t the only fabricated story I told Kim. There were ones about Matt, this super cool soccer player that didn’t even know I existed, but in my made up world, we whispered through the classroom dividers during history class. I could see Matt through the classroom dividers during history class, but we never talked. There were stories about another Mike that sang in another church’s teen choir that I had a crazy crush on. And what’s weird about those stories is, Kim had to know I was lying because we always were together when we saw him! How dumb was I???

I just wanted Kim to think I was cool too so I totally embellished the truth.

The good news is, I did eventually grow out of my awkward phase and many boys did find me attractive. Once I turned 16 and was allowed to date, I actually never didn’t have a boyfriend. We will talk more about that later.

So when I’m feeling these negative thoughts and trying to deal with all my core fear in a more positive way, there’s a couple things I am going to attempt to do. First I will practice the AWARE steps. And I will remind myself that all of Jesus’ accomplishments are mine too! I don’t have to perform to gain God’s acceptance. And as a Christian, that should allow me to shake off my core fear and rest. Right? It’s a process.

Here’s some other great reads:

What are your fears and how to do you over come them?

The Why

Why?  Question Mark Quiz Maze Icon Logo  - mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Kids are curious creatures. Ever spent any time with a 3 year old? They are always asking questions. One of the most often asked question is WHY?

Why? Why? Why?

As a parent, when you find a child does something they know they weren’t supposed to do, we ask them why. Why did you do that? You know that’s not allowed, don’t you? We want to know what motivates their behavior, maybe so we can prevent them from doing it again. We want to know how they justified their behavior that we think is unacceptable. Maybe something else happened and they had to take that action to avoid harm.

Right now, I am asking myself WHY? Do I do the things I do? Why do I do that this way and not that? Why is it so hard to do things differently? Why did God make me this way if it’s not always acceptable for me to be this way all the time?

Always sharing the WHY - Girl Scouts Girl Woman Female  - Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

My poor volunteers with the Girl Scouts. I am always explaining WHY I am asking them to do the things I am asking them to do. I explain why, because I am the type of person who wants to know why, so I can get on board with it. Too, I want to know why because I might have a more efficient way of doing it. They might too! And I want to learn that. Some of my volunteers appreciate the “why”. Some don’t.

The Enneagram helps me find the why about my behavior. And I like knowing why. If I know why, then I might be OK with it.

Because the Enneagram is about our core motivations, why we do what we do, it’s super hard to figure out what types others are. That’s why I am always asking everyone I care about to take the Enneagram test and tell me what they think they are. I can guess Jill is an 8, or Mark is a 1. But if YOU don’t agree those are your motivations, I won’t know if they are correct, and therefor won’t be able to understand the different ways we approach the same situation.

So the Enneagram looks at our core, the central, innermost, or most essential part of us. There are 4 parts:.

The WHY at our core - Dandelion Core White Wind Seeds  - lueleng / Pixabay
“Ones”
  • Core Fear: what I am always avoiding and trying to prevent from happening
  • Core Desire: what I’m always striving for, believing it will completely fulfill me
  • Core Weakness: the issue I’m always wrestling with
  • Core Longing: the message my heart always wants to hear

So diving right into my type, my core motivations are:

  • Core Fear: Being exposed as or thought incompetent, inefficient or worthless. Failing to be or appear unsuccessful.
  • Core Desire: Having high status and respect. Being admired, seen as successful and valuable.
  • Core Weakness: Deceit. Deceiving myself into believing I’m only the image I present to others. Embellishing the truth by putting on a polished persona for everyone, including myself, to see and admire.
  • Core Longing: I am loved for simply being me.

Boy howdy, if that ain’t the truth in a nutshell.

Why I get it all done always - Superhero Super Hero Girl Costume  - comicvector / Pixabay

So all of these things aren’t necessarily bad. I mean, God made me this way, right and these things are not only my weaknesses, but my strengths as well. I can totally perform under pressure. I’m the person you send in when you want it done right the first time. I generally make an amazing first impression. I can work a crowd like no other. I’m the person you always put 4th on the line up to bring them all home because I’m always going to knock it out of the park. I am able to spin the truth to fit the present needs and you will buy it – hook, line and sinker. And all I need is a pat on the back and a “I couldn’t have done it without you!”.

Why I am sad - Melting Heart Red Melted Love  - LIAN30 / Pixabay

These things are also the things I tell myself when I’m alone at night, crying in my bed, feeling like I have no idea who I really am, thinking I honestly have no real friends, feeling so down and just wanting someone to let it all out to, but can’t because that would mean sharing my vulnerability with them and what if they don’t love me any more? It’s what makes me feel alone and lonely in a crowd, why I struggle with depression, see a counselor and sometimes take happy pills. This is what I, and other threes like me, will always struggle with until I’m in heaven. What a wonderful reminder that I need God’s help on a daily basis. My room is filled with art work I have made, reminding me how God loves me in spite of all this.

So there’s a fine line between keeping all of those things and changing them as well. But I have to own all of it first. And that is what this time for me, with me, is all about. It’s about exposing the condition of my heart. Then loving it, even the yucky parts. Then really taking the time and doing the work to be a better me.

It’s not an easy path. If it were, we would all be on it, right? Maybe in someway we are. I just know it’s hard for me to see my flaws and be OK with having them. I see them. If I didn’t I would be on this journey. It’s the embracing them and owning them that is super difficult. There’s going to be crying, and frustration and praying and ugly. Then there can be forgiveness and mercy and grace and improvement.

Buckle up buttercup, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

A.W.A.R.E.

My first husband never took responsibility for his behavior or anything that happened in his life. He spun lie after lie to cover up his bad choices. Funny, I was one of those bad choices myself. I chose to, well, I made the choices I made and I have had to live with them. I have spent my entire adult life feeling like I am paying for the sins of my youth. I mean I am really good at making bad choices. I’m also really good at taking responsibility for my choices.

How small behavior changes can have a ripple effect
Don’t Underestimate the Ripple Effect of Your Actions

That’s part of what this journey I am on is really about – figuring out why I do what I do, even when really deep down I know it’s not what I should do. We all have moments like that. Some make huge impacts on our lives immediately. Others are like a tiny pebble dropped into a pool of water. The ripple effect can be major sometimes.

I guess I am super thankful God has the capacity to forgive and show us grace and mercy. Now if I could just do that for myself… Learning who I am through the Enneagram, I’m hoping, will allow me to see who I am through God’s eyes and give myself a better understanding of me, and those around me. I am hoping I will be able to have compassion for myself, and more for those around me when we run into differences. I hope to be able to show grace and mercy to those around me as well. And eventually, believe I am worthy of forgiveness myself. And forgive others more quickly as well.

Just knowing does not change our behavior

I recently took a class on-line called The Science of Well-Being through Yale University. Something we talked about in week 2 was the misconception that simply knowing is not enough to change behavior. We have to actually put that knowledge to work – turn it into an action – before we can change our behavior. That’s what I want to do, figure out what action I need to take to change the behaviors I don’t like that I do.

When my kids were little, we had a family counselor come to the house every few weeks to help us with some issues we were having. I was a single mom and young and trying to juggle it all on my own. It was hard. I was always tired, both physically and emotionally. So asking for outside professional help seemed to be a good idea.

One time the counselor was working with us on breaking a behavior cycle that wasn’t the most positive. He asked us to think about what was going through our minds right before things got crazy? What did we notice was happening to our bodies? These were the signs to watch for so we could attempt to break our pattern. When we noticed these things happening, we need to work on removing ourselves from the situation and go away from each other to calm down. Then we could come back and try to talk things through more calmly. A better choice and different pattern.

If you see the pattern, we can change the behavior

Noticing those physical changes in our bodies would allow us to take control of our behavior and make the changes we wanted to see happen. Warning signs, if you will. It’s like watching for a tornado. If you know the signs, you can go for safety and survive the storm. My hope is learning about myself through the Enneagram will help me see those patterns and make the changes I’d like to see in my own life.

Back to The Enneagram Type Three book, In Day 2, Beth talks about, when something is happening that we would like to change, think of the word AWARE:

  • Awaken – notice how I am reacting in my behavior, feelings, thoughts and body sensations. Just like the counselor said to do all those years ago. He was a really smart guy. If I can find these signs, I can train myself to respond differently to what ever is happening around me.
  • Welcome – be open to what I might learn and observe without condemnation and shame. For me, SHAME is a huge issue. My behavior is widely motivated by trying to avoid things that bring me shame. And I’m not even Catholic!! I need to ask myself, what would be so terrible if I did this differently this time? What do I have to lose? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Because if I do what I usually do, I already know I don’t like that outcome.
  • Ask – ask God to help clarify what is happening internally. Praying. It’s just that simple.
  • Receive – receive an insight and affirm your true identity as God’s beloved child. And then get out of my own way, be quiet, listen and do what I know I should do. Be brave. Philippians 4:13.
  • Enjoy – enjoy my new freedom from old self defeating patterns of living. What a relief??!!

It sounds so simple. If only. It’s working to change 50 years of habits. That’s what is so challenging. But it’s OK. It’s what I want to have happen. And even if I don’t get it right the first time, there will be other times to try again. And someday I will get it right and then there will be times that I mess it up again. As long as I keep trying, I can do this.

There are major life events that I wish I had mastered this concept before they happened. My life would be so different now. Part of me wished I didn’t have to go through those things. Another part of me is really glad that I did, because it’s made me who I am today, and I really like who I am today. It’s wonderful that God has been able to gift me so many amazing opportunities in spite of myself. Mostly I would love to take back the pain and hurt I have caused for those around me. I suppose those moments shaped them as well. The good news is, today is a new day and I can move forward and work on being a better person.

One thing I can say, I have a great life. Amazing family and friends. And a God that always loves me.

Behavior that shows me love

So if you’d like some insights on how to love me, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Reassure me by telling me you like me and like being around me
  • I love to hear how proud you are of me and my achievements
  • When I’m working, please don’t distract or interrupt me. Yes, I have ADD.
  • Feedback is always welcome as long as it is not overly critical or judgmental. I will get defensive and your words will fall on deaf ears.
  • I am the best me when my things in my life are harmonious, tidy and peaceful. Yes, I get distracted and make messes – but eventually I do clean them up. Too many messes over whelm me and I just can’t.

What are some ways you feel loved?