There are a core set of three fears that underlie everything else that we fear in life. All other fears are derived from these main three. These core fears are based in our need to survive and to belong enough with others so they will take care of us and look out for us when we can’t manage it for ourselves. So let’s take a look at each of these fears in more detail:
1 – The Fear of Being Abandoned
We don’t do well on our own. We rely on parenting figures to teach us what we need to know about life and to provide for us until we can provide for ourselves. Latest research in neuroscience is confirming that our brains are extremely social. Our brain looks for connection with others for the sake of our survival. It is constantly scanning the environment for threats that might have us see the end of our days so we can take action to minimise that chance (these days more social than primal!). It also looks for relating to others around us as we have a better chance of surviving in larger groups than by ourselves. We need others. We need to belong. We need to know we’re not alone.
2 – The Fear of Being Unloveable
I get great inspiration from the work Brené Brown shares with the world. I read and re-read her books and have done online courses to understand her work better. You see, she is undertaking ground-breaking work in the areas of shame, love, belonging, and resilience. According to her research, “we are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When these needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” To be lovable, we must be trustworthy, respectful, kind, and affectionate.
3 – The Fear of Being Unworthy
We perform, perfect, please, and prove our way into acceptance by others. We do anything and everything we can to try to fit in with who we think we are supposed to be. We make deals with ourselves for when we’ll be “worthy enough”. When we lose weight, when we get pregnant, when we make partner/get that promotion, when my mum/dad finally approves of me. You name it. You’ll be familiar with these deals you make with yourself.
So now we know the core fears we have, what can we do? Well, if we take the opportunity to deal with unlovable and unworthy together, we will generally always be surrounded by real relationships, diminishing our chance of abandonment. It starts with loving ourselves.
Learning how to trust ourselves, being as kind and affectionate towards ourselves as we are to those we love, and respecting ourselves the way that we expect others to respect us. We have to learn to not only love ourselves, but also to accept ourselves for who we are today, not who we want to be and who we think we should be.
If you are struggling with this, then maybe you’d be interested in some one-to-one coaching. Understanding who you are and what you want and working towards that is something that will help you on your path to self-acceptance, self-love and self-respect.