Humanity grapples with eight basic fears – the key to living a better life is learning to control them.
In his Psychodynamic training programs, psychologist James Miller taught that it was perfectly normal for humans to have anxieties or fears, as he liked to call them. He broke them down into two main categories – Conscious Fears and Unconscious Fears.
Conscious Fears are:
1) Fear of criticism
2) Fear of disapproval
3) Fear of ridicule
4) Fear of rejection
5) Fear of use and exploitation
Unconscious fears are:
6) Fear of inadequacy
7) Fear of inferiority
8) Fear of failure
These fears, if left unchecked, tend to control our lives and to limit our opportunities and happiness.
The most prevalent and dominant anxiety in the majority of people (but not all) is the unconscious Fear of Inadequacy – that nagging feeling that somehow we are not good enough – not as good as others think we are – not quite up to the challenges of our job, our opportunity, our marriage, our family, our sex life, our reputation, our education, etc.
Inadequacy often makes us feel: if others only knew how under-qualified I am for this situation, I would most certainly lose their respect, admiration, endorsement, and support. People who fail to overcome this fear normally underachieve in the various aspects of their life.
The second most prevalent and dominant anxiety in people is the conscious Fear of Use and Exploitation – that we are being used unfairly, or will be used unfairly, by others, by our employer, by our boss, by our customers, by our suppliers, by our providers, by our spouse, by our parents, by our children, etc.
People with this dominant anxiety in control of their life come through as suspicions, un-trusting, overly cautious, etc. and, consequently, turn people and opportunities off.
The third and less prevalent and dominant anxiety is the conscious Fear of Rejection – that people won’t like us, that we won’t get the date, that we won’t get the girl, that we won’t get the job, that we won’t get the part, that we won’t get the promotion, that we won’t make the team, that we won’t be accepted by the club, etc.
People with this dominant conscious fear often try too hard to be popular and accepted and become disappointed and unhappy when they fail to achieve their unrealistic expectations. Still others respond to this fear by rejecting others before they can be rejected.
Although the most prevalent fear pattern is 6, 5, 4 – that isn’t always the case. A 5, 6, 4 pattern is also quite common, according to Dr. Miller.
Individuals with a dominant and controlling unconscious Fear 6 of Inadequacy, will normally be underachievers, who fail to fully utilize their full potential by not stepping up to the challenges and opportunities available to them. On the other hand, individuals who overcome this unconscious fear, often move on to super-achiever status. By developing a conscious awareness of the paralyzing effects of Fear 6 in our lives – by forcing ourselves to do what we fear – we can overcome the inhibiting effects of this anxiety.
Individuals with a dominant and controlling conscious Fear 5 of Use and Exploitation, may be underachievers because they tend to turn people and good opportunities off by their suspicion and lack of trust. If not overcome by showing trust and appreciation, these individuals may be limited to work as individual contributors.
Individuals with a dominant and controlling conscious Fear 4 of Rejection may be handicapped by trying too hard to gain acceptance, to be liked, to never offend, to not confront, to never speak out, etc. Still other Fear 4s fear to interact at all – rejecting others before they can be rejected. In either case, if not overcome this controlling fear will impede one’s success and happiness.
Of course, some individuals have two or more predominately controlling fears to overcome, and they must do so if they hope to achieve their full potential and happiness.
To overcome your dominant and controlling . . .
6) Fear of inadequacy – keep reminding yourself that you are far more adequate and capable than you think.
5) Fear of use and exploitation – keep reminding yourself that most people are trustworthy. So trust and appreciate them.
4) Fear of rejection – keep reminding yourself that you’re OK – that you’re acceptable and loveable as you are – without bowing to every person’s whims, personality and demands. Speak out and speak your mind to overcome this fear and to enhance the probability of success in your life.
Recognize the eight anxieties that operate in all normal people and do your best to prevent them from hindering your success and happiness. You are far better than you think you are.