List of Fears
List of fears:
The guiding principle of the 4th Step is courage. Courage is the quality it takes to look at yourself with candor, your adversaries with kindness, and your setbacks with serenity.
Why did/do we have them? When, where and how did the general nature of this recurring fear begin? Wasn't it because self reliance failed us? Is this a rational fear? Necessary for safety?
“Fear of the Future is a waste of the Present.”
- God. In the past and occasionally now, I fall victim to this belief that God is not trustworthy. That he is a God of anger and that he’ll only accept me when I measure up. I find it difficult to surrender to Him when I am afraid of Him. This is not a rationale fear . . . and a false picture of God that has developed from my relationship with my father.
- Relationships and Intimacy. I started to realize this fear when I was in my late 20’s. I never learned what intimacy was. There was no encouragement or demonstration of intimacy in my home when I was growing up.
- Being a Leader. Standing up for what I believe in and standing out. Because I was always trying to “fit in” and I didn’t want to take any negative feedback at all, I found it very difficult to take a position of leadership. Ironically, I’ve always been forced into a position of leadership and to this day have trouble accepting this role. I can remember being ridiculed in the positions of responsibility I had . . .
- Core Convictions. I never wanted to be caught on the bad side of a debate. I want to test the wind and see which way it is blowing before I chose sides. This probably started somewhere between 5 and 7th grades, when we were moving from one state to another and I wanted to “fit in” with my peers. I found it very easy to be a follower rather than a leader. This is most likely a result of insecurity, not receiving the affirmation I needed to develop my individual sense of who I am.
- Ethical and moral dilemmas. Because I have trouble understanding my core convictions . . . I find that I have trouble doing what’s right when presented with ethical and moral dilemmas.
- Commitment, responsibility and accountability. I’ve always railed against accountability. I hate not having things my own way, doing things when I want to do them. I get so angry when my personal freedoms are suppressed. I fear commitment, because it forces me to stick around and “feel” my emotions. It forces me to look at me!!
- That I don’t deserve success. I started realizing this fear in high school. I feel like all the successes I have are a matter of fortuitousness and happenstance rather than skill, tenacity, perseverance or intelligence. I’ve never felt smart. I feel like I always just got by, that if I didn’t cram the night before then I probably would not have passed the test. I find that I constantly diminish myself ~ I give myself negative feedback and tell myself that I’m undeserving.
- Waking up and discovering that I truly am a superficial bullshit artist. I have a fear that I am not a man of substance. That I have no core convictions, life experiences, or a meaningful education. This is not a rationale fear . . .
- Being found out . . . I have a fear of presenting myself as anything but a well rounded, educated, intelligent, moral and ethical man. I have a fear of facing who I really am. I have a fear of others knowing who I really am -- that I am an addict!
- Being insignificant. I’m not so much fearful of being lonely, but I am fearful of having a meaningless existence ~ of not amounting to anything, of not contributing to the betterment of this world . . . this is not a rational fear, because in the eyes of my children, I am their father. I am significant.
- Fear of feelings and living without my medication. I have a fear of feeling -- of feeling or experiencing feelings that have been medicated through my acting out behavior. I have fear that I cannot live without alcohol and that I cannot have a good time without alcohol. When I face up to my past, I realize that drinking and carousing was a lot of fun. In fact it was my hobby. I know I cannot live that way anymore and I have to replace drinking with new activities. This is challenging. Giving it up again forces me to “sit with my feelings.”
- Death and dying ~ especially a tragic or horrible death by a vengeful God. I had paralyzing fear around death and about God’s role since my early 20’s. When I was acting out, I worried that I was destined for an early death and that I would not have time to make things right with my ‘vengeful’ God. I fear having my kids grow up without knowing me or me knowing them. This is no longer a rational fear because my view of God has changed to a loving and forgiving father who wants the best for me.
- Not being accepted or loved. I have a fear that my wife, family, and children would reject me if they knew the deepest truths about me. I don’t like myself very much and wonder why anybody would like me, yet alone love me.
- Criticism, humiliation or ridicule for the positions I take or the statements I make; being inarticulate or appearing ignorant, stupid or uninformed. Making public mistakes. Performing poorly on tests.
- Not being attractive or looking my best. Because I depended so much on my looks in my early 20’s to make connections and conquests, I have a real fear now that people will reject me if I’m not attractive. My looks were how I defined myself. I was and still am a vain person.
- Losing control. I do fear when I lose control, because I get very selfish, self-centered and resentful ~ a pity party of one! But I also fear how other people will view me when I lose control.
- Economic Insecurity and fear of being perceived as not successful. I define myself by money and things. I constantly worry if I make more money than others, “Am I doing better than them?” “Is my house, car, toys better than theirs?” I have a fear that people will look at me as unsuccessful if I don’t have the appearance of success.
- Taking risks or making mistakes. I have a fear of taking a risk that might cost me money or reputation or bring me humiliation. . . this would require me to do a cost/benefit analysis . . . this would require me to subordinate fear and to look at my motivations for wanting to do something . . . to dismiss/discount the naysayers ~ I’m not good at that ~ I let my externals (people, places, situations, and things) control my internals (how I feel about myself). I buy into negative self-talk and rarely take calculated risks.
- Walking a new path; returning to my old ways. Walking a new path requires surrendering control. I’m not good at that.
- Making bad decisions and the consequences of those decisions. I have a fear of consequences.
- Exclusion. Not being chosen. Being considered less than or not good enough.
- Underperforming and not doing my best.
- Asking for help. I am loner and I like being in control. I never wanted anyone’s help but God’s and that was only for my way -- not His. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. I fear weakness or the appearance of weakness.
- Failure. If I fail, I am nothing. I will fulfill my family’s prediction that I am a dumb and not worthy of my success. I have a fear of failure . . . this is not a rationale fear. Failure is life’s greatest training ground for success. When I fail I need to remember that I may have lost, but I need not lose the lesson.
- Not being a good dad. Making the same mistakes as my father; not encouraging my kids enough; or setting an appropriate example
- Fear of not being able to provide for my kids & family. I need to remember that no matter what I’ll be OK, because I’m in the loving care of my Higher Power.
- Losing my wife and kids. That I can’t stay on this “new path” that the tug of the old ~ the rip tide of addiction ~ my fear of a significant relapse and the consequences of that. This is not a rationale fear . . . God is with me . . . He will not abandon me this far into my recovery. He is with me always.
- Fear of a real relationship with God, my wife, my family, myself. Fear of being my real self...
"The Deep Secrecy of my own being is often hidden from me by my own estimate of what I am. My idea of what I am is falsified by my admiration for what I do. And my illusions about myself are bred by contagion from the illusions of other men. We all seek to imitate one another's imagined greatness. If I do not know who I am, it is because I think I am the sort of person everyone around me wants to be. Perhaps I have never asked myself whether I really wanted to become what everybody else seems to want to become. Perhaps if I only realized that I do not admire what everyone seems to admire, I would really begin to live after all. I would be liberated from the painful duty of saying what I really do not think and acting in a way that betrays God's truth and the integrity of my own soul." -- Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
Step 4 Prayer. Lord, You are infinite, I am finite. Help me to trust you. Help me to practice your will in all things. Show me Lord that spirituality is the way of strength, not weakness. Demonstrate through me Lord, what You can do. Remove my fear Lord and direct my attention to what You would have me be.