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:
- 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.
- 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?