Why do we fear…?

One of the basic emotions we all deal with is fear.

It starts with basic survival needs – food, clothing, shelter. And when those needs are not met or are barely met we find it difficult to focus on other things.

I doubt there are very many people who haven’t heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Even if they don’t know it by name they have seen the pyramid rising from physiological needs on the bottom through safety, love/belonging, and esteem, with self-actualization on the top.

When your energy and attention zero in on the lower levels, fear gets activated and it is hard to set your sights on your accomplishments.

Many of our fears are based on past experiences that didn’t go well. We are afraid that we really haven’t learned anything and are destined to continue to mess up or make mistakes.

A few months before my seventh birthday my only brother was born and died – I heard of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). My mother changed after that. Even though she tried to be present for her five daughters, she began drinking more and more. I’m not sure when she made the transition but she made the move from occasional drinker to practicing alcoholic and we became the children of an alcoholic (COA).

I slowly adapted to the behaviors associated with that role.

Don’t talk.

Don’t trust.

Don’t feel.

I was embarrassed to share what was happening at home and afraid I might let something slip, so I quickly slipped into the role of quiet observer and helper on the sidelines.

I learned all the rules and tried as hard as I could to follow them exactly.

I did everything I could to avoid drawing attention to myself.

As the combination of a middle child and a COA I was constantly trying to keep the peace and acknowledging the value of all sides of an issue.

When I was a child I quickly learned that when I made a mistake the consequences didn’t just affect me – they impacted on my younger sisters as well. The atmosphere in our home got tense. There were angry voices in the background.

It didn’t take long for me to be fearful of trying something new if I couldn’t reason out how to do it before the first time I tried it.

It was many years before I was able to remember that making mistakes is a natural part of learning something new.

As a new mother, I didn’t blame my sons when they fell down when first learning to walk. I didn’t chastise them for not automatically knowing how to hit a ball or kick a goal. Gradually I was able to apply that same understanding to myself as I learned new things.

I still hesitate at times to put myself out there and try new things. However, I have learned that it is safe to do so and I have ventured into new areas.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing more of the fears that have kept me, in the past, from sharing my voice. I am still aware of them. However, with support, I am moving beyond my fears in order to help myself and others.

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Have your early experiences freed you up or frozen you into inaction? Use this link to schedule a time to talk and let’s see if there are ways to get you moving forward again on your writing.

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