When I was in my teens, I didn’t dream of being someone who made a lot of money through business or someone who was a doctor helping people in a practical way… which kind of makes me sound uncaring. Instead, I dreamed of being someone on a stage performing some type of comedy routine that had the audience full on lol-ing and maybe even lmao-ing. As the latter acronym suggests, lmao, I’d be in the show that fat people would go to as a way to shrink their large buttocks (said with a Forrest Gump voice); Good bye buttocks; I laughed you off. At that time in my life I was this goody-goody, shy kid who shocked people when I came alive on stage. I spent hours writing, practicing, and performing on any stage I could find. Looking back I don’t know how I did it because at one point I was only sleeping 4-6 hours a night (I’m way too old for that now) while I did my schoolwork, worked part time, and did the performing thing. This crazy drive was fueled by an underlying fear: I was afraid of not being liked by everyone. This idea wasn’t on the forefront of my mind, but it was always there under the surface that I can see better in retrospect. It was a very sensitive issue that could cause me to do crazy things when triggered. The sad truth is I didn’t realize I should have started with liking myself in order to be open to sharing the same kind of love to others. Jesus said “love others as yourself,” but what did he know, right? I needed everyone to love me without criticism so then I’d be good enough to potentially like myself… a potential that’s impossible to fill when you’re relying on people to always like you. As you can probably guess, this mindset was less than ideal and fueled other fears like a fear of criticism, failure, and not winning every game I tried, which inadvertently made me harder to like. It’s a little bit ironic; don’t ya think? It’s like raaaaiiiinnnnn… sorry, old person lyric flashback.
I have recently discovered we are all fueled by some underlying fear. This fear isn’t like a fear of spiders, but something more meaningful to who we are as a person. You could say it’s an underlying “need”, but I like to consider the fear because knowing the fear means you can start to reduce it and/or protect yourself from it being triggered. For instance, now that I’m older, my underlying fear is the fear of wasting time. Guess how well I handle being stuck in traffic. Knowing this is my fear, I can fortunately, do what I can to prevent it from getting out of hand like I listen to books in the car, and I always have a writing project with me wherever I go in case I have to wait a few minutes. Knowing this fear also means I can self sooth myself when I start to get amped up when it feels like I’m wasting time. Even better, I can look at this fear and dig a little deeper to what it’s connected to in order to reduce it. For instance, for me, this fear is connected to the idea of disappointing God, which becomes a whole other issue I can address. Knowing the fear is very helpful. Thus, to help you, here is a list of potential fears:
Fear of… fear, anxiety, panic attacks, pain, looking stupid, debt, conflict, change, failure, chaos, feeling helpless and having no control, challenge, losing, dying, everything falling apart, getting worse, instability, rejection, waste, violence, letting people down, others being left out, people needing help
Fear of… being dependent, being invisible, being useless, being alone, being mocked, being bullied, being weak, being powerless, being left out, being vulnerable, being less intelligent
Fear of relaxing, not making everyone happy, not everyone liking you, not being seen as adult, not respected, not admired, not significant, not accomplishing anything big, not being good enough, not funny, not likeable, not acceptable, not successful, not being the best or having the best, not being safe, not having a voice, not being heard, not making someone proud
Once you know your main fear(s), you can start to do things to prevent it from being flared up. You can also warn your partner not to use this against you in a fight because it’s a huge trigger. If you share this and that person uses it in a conflict, they’re being a terrible person. Ultimately, we need to know having a fear isn’t weakness; it’s normal. We just need to know how to control it and use it to our advantage. For instance, my need to be liked as a teen certainly helped me achieve a lot and got me to where I am today; thus, I’m grateful I went through it, and even more grateful I moved past it. My fear of wasting time means I’ll take advantage of the time I have and accomplish some good things too. Ultimately, fear is a gift that can help us be better people… as long as we learn what it is, how to tame it, and how to use it for good.
This week may you discover your underlying fear in order to better protect yourself.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people