Our Greatest Fear

“Fear not.” “Do not be afraid.” Some claim that “fear not” or similar statements, to not be fearful, are reflected in scripture 365 times – one for each day of the year. Others would suggest that there are not that many references, yet at the end of the day, we’re told “Do not be afraid” more frequently than anything else (70 times in the NIV). Why is that?

Fear causes anxiety, anxiety cause stress and stress are responsible for any number of negative consequences. Among those are health (mental and physical) issues and dysfunctional behaviors or shame screens. Fear ultimately is responsible for the fight or flight responses that compromise our ability to navigate conflict, hear others and be open to alternate views, respond versus react, accept negative feedback and innumerable other derailing and anxiety managing behaviors. Our stress related behaviors that strain relationships are simply means by which we manage the anxiety resulting from fear.

A noted author and researcher Brene’ Brown has written extensively on shame and vulnerability and the association of these to defense mechanisms. Brown suggests that shame is at the core of our feelings of inadequacy. According to Brown – “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Shame creates fear which results in our use of “shame screens” or defense mechanism to protect ourselves. These defense mechanisms, or derailing behaviors as Robert Hogan defines them, compromise our ability to effectively engage others in a productive manner and may derail relationships and/or careers. The three broad methods that characterize these reactions include:

· “Moving against” by trying to gain control or power over others

o Being excitable, cautious, skeptical, reserved, and/or leisurely

· “Moving away from” by withdrawing, hiding or staying silent

o Being bold, mischievous, colorful and/or imaginative

· “Moving towards”