Do you know what emotion has caused you the most harm over the course of your life? Before reading any further, take a guess. It’s the one emotion that has and will continue to have a negative impact on your life. Come on. Take a guess. Which emotion is it?
From the day you were born until the day you die, the emotion that has and will continue to negatively affect you is the emotion of fear.
Everyone has one or more hidden fears that have caused suffering for them and the people they love. I’m using the word “hidden” because most people are not aware of their innermost fears. The reason for this is that there are certain fears that are so much a part of who we are that they are invisible to us.
There are only two ways that I know of for us to develop an awareness of our hidden fears. The first is through prayer, deep reflection, and critically accurate thinking that will sometimes lead to a self-awareness of our hidden fears. The second is when someone who knows and cares for us reveals to us one or more fears that we have but are not consciously aware of.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “fear” as “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen.”
Some synonyms for fear are angst, anxiety, despair, dismay, doubt, dread, horror, panic, terror, uneasiness, and worry.
The word “angst” is a derivative of the word “fear” and is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.”
Here are some examples of the things that we fear most:
● Fear of criticism.
● Fear of being humiliated.
● Fear of failure.
● Fear of change.
● Fear of conflict and confrontation.
● Fear of loss.
● Fear of bodily harm.
● Fear of being taken advantage of.
● Fear of being disliked.
● Fear of being despised.
● Fear of being slandered.
● Fear of being forgotten.
● Fear of being wronged.
● Fear of being suspected.
● Fear of being ridiculed.
● Fear of running out of money.
● Fear of being left out.
● Fear of making a mistake.
● Fear of looking stupid.
● Fear of being excluded.
● Fear of not being good enough.
● Fear of being exposed or found out.
● Fear of the negative opinions of others.
● Fear of making a bad decision.
● Fear of the unknown.
● Fear of ill health.
● Fear of old age.
● Fear of death.
● Fear of fatigue.
● Fear of the loss of love.
Which of these fears do you have?
If I were to give this list of fears to the one person who knows and loves you the most, that person would pick out fears that you failed to recognize in yourself.
Fear comes in many forms and disguises, and because of our fallen human nature, it’s impossible to eliminate all our fears.
So what do we need to do to develop an awareness of our hidden fears, and after we are fully aware of our fears, how can we overcome them? There is no simple solution for discovering your innermost fears, but next week, I’ll share what I do to bring my own fears to light and to appropriately deal with them.