Find the Fear, You Feel


Harville Hendrix, in his book, “Keeping the Love You Find,identifies six stages of childhood development and their accompanying wounds or trait based fears that stymie us in adulthood. These fears are seared onto our basic primordial, reptilian, lizard brained, ‘amygdala’ responses to life, My Mid-Life Crisis of clinical depression at 48.2 years of age caused me to examine my most intimate trait based fears. I credit my psychotherapist Beverly and Harville’s book for saving my life.

nov mag cover

The April 2011 issue of our Toastmasters magazine was all about overcoming our fears of speaking in public. I liked this picture of the cavemen audience on page 16, Stage Fright Blues. However, The Know Thy Fear article intrigued me the most with some new facts on the science of shyness. A relatively small percentage (7%), of ANY population, is clinically shy. The author, Matt Abrahams, goes on to label this fear as “… an internal kind of anxiety, known as “trait based” communication apprehension – better known as shyness or extreme introversion.”

I find that I become clinically shy the closer I get to my audience whether it is public, or private. My most fearful encounters, with others, don’t happen on stage, because I can control how close I get to the audience, or more fearfully speaking, how close the audience can get to me. Our fears don’t go all the way back to the stone ages, but they are definitely from our earliest childhood experiences.

headamygdala Our childhood experiences become ingrained on our amygdala, our lizard brain, our control center for ‘fight or flight’ decisions. We look to our spouse, boss, partner or audience to heal us from our fears. Steve Jobs’ unwed mother placed her son with a college educated couple, who rejected him before signing the papers. Apple fired Jobs from the company he founded so Steve’s worst fears of Rejection came true in adulthood.

keeping the love

I found my fear in the ATTACHMENT Stage of childhood development and that fear is best described as the fear of REJECTION. My psycho-therapist suggested reading “Keeping the Love You Find,” as part of our couples counselling. It was easy for me to spot myself as ‘The Avoider’ and my wife as ‘The Clinger.’ Supposedly over 35% of the population suffers from this childhood wound, the Clinton’s being the most famous example. Hillary always plays the victim because as a Clinger she’s afraid of being abandoned, while nice guy Bill attempts to please one and all to avoid being rejected.


Attachment STAGE (0-18 months)attachment

The AVOIDER:  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):  Contact may lead to emotional and physical rejection, loss of self through contact with parent (partner).
Internal Message:  Don’t be
Core Belief:  I have no right to exist
Relationship Belief:  I will be hurt if I initiate contact with you
Image of Partner:  Demanding, all consuming
Relationship to Partner:  Detached; avoidant
Core Issue:  Too much togetherness;  too many feelings;  too much chaos
Typical Frustration:  You hate me;  you feel too much
Recurrent Feeling:  Terror and rage
Conflict Management:  Hyper-rational;  avoidant;  passive/aggressive withdrawal and coldness
Growth Challenge:  Claim right to be;  initiate emotional and physical contact;  express feelings;  increase body awareness and sensory contact with environment

The CLINGER:  Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Separation and abandonment;  loss of self through loss of contact with parent (partner)
Internal Message Don’t need me
Core Belief:  I can’t get my needs met
Relationship Belief:  I am safe if I hold on to you
Image of Partner: Unavailable;  has no feelings; a rock wall
Relationship to Partner:  Clinging; demanding; attempts to fuse
Core Issue: Separateness
Typical Frustration: You are never there
Recurrent Feeling: Voracious rage and terror
Conflict Management: Hyper-emotional, uncompromising; demanding, then giving in
Growth Challenge: Let go; do things on your own; negotiate


Exploration STAGE: (18 months to 3 years) exploration

The ISOLATOR:  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):   Being smothered, absorbed, humiliated, loss of parent (partner)
Internal Message  Don’t be separate
Core Belief:   I can’t say no and be loved
Relationship Belief:  I will be absorbed if I get close
Image of Partner (IP):   Insecure; too dependent; needy
Relationship to Partner:  Sets limits on togetherness; passive/aggressive; acts out absorption fears by distancing
Core Issue CI:  Personal freedom; autonomy
Typical Frustration TF:  You need too much
Recurrent Feeling Recurrent Feeling RF:  Fear and impotent fury
Conflict Management  CM:  Oppositional; distancing
Growth Challenge:  Initiate closeness; share feelings; increase time together; integrate positive and negative traits in partner

The PURSUER:  Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):  Unreliability of others, abandonment; loss of parent (partner)
Internal Message  Don’t be dependent

Core Belief:   I can’t count on anyone
Relationship Belief:  If I act independent, you will abandon me
Image of Partner:   Distant; has no needs
Relationship to Partner:  Ambivalent pursuit and withdrawal
Core Issue:  Partner reliability; support; standing
Typical Frustration:  You are never there when I need you
Recurrent Feeling: Panic and anger
Conflict Management: Blaming, demanding; chasing; complaining; devaluing
Growth Challenge: Initiate separateness; develop outside interests; internalize partner; integrate positive and negative traits of partner


Identity STAGE (3 to 4) IDENTITY

The CONTROLLER:  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being shamed; loss of control; losing face; loss of parental (partner) love
Internal Message  Don’t be what you want to be, be what we want you to be
Core Belief:   I can’t be me and be accepted and loved
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be safe if I stay in control
Image of Partner (IP):   Unorganized; scatterbrained; over-emotional
Relationship to Partner:  Domineering; critical; invasive; withholding
Core Issue CI:  Partner’s emotional liability, chaos, and passivity
Typical Frustration TF:  You want me to be somebody else; you don’t know what you want
Recurrent Feeling  RF:  Shame and anger
Conflict Management  CM:  Rigidly imposes will; super-rational with occasional angry outbursts; takes charge; punishes
Growth Challenge:  Relax control; mirror partner’s thoughts and feelings; develop flexibility and sensitivity

The DIFFUSER:  Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):  Being invisible, self-assertion, loss of parental (partner) love
Internal Message  Don’t assert yourself
Core Belief: I’ll never be seen, valued, and accepted
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be loved if I go along and please others
Image of Partner (IP):   Insensitive; controlling
Relationship to Partner:  Submissive; passive-aggressive; manipulative
Core Issue CI:  Partner rigidity and dominance
Typical Frustration  TF:  You never see me; you want everything your way
Recurrent Feeling  RF:  Shame and confusion
Conflict Management  CM:  Confused; alternates between compliance and defiance; exaggerates emotions; makes few suggestions; self-effacing
Growth Challenge:  Assert yourself; set boundaries for yourself; respect boundaries of others


Competence STAGE (4-6)

The COMPETITOR:  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):   Being a failure, guilt and disapproval, fear of parental (partner) disapproval
Internal Message  Don’t make mistakes
Core Belief:  I have to be perfect
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be loved if I am the best
Image of Partner (IP):   Manipulative; incompetent
Relationship to Partner:  Competitive; aggressive; puts partner down
Core Issue CI:  Control; battle for who’s boss
Typical Frustration  TF:  You are never satisfied
Recurrent Feeling  RF:  Anger and guilt
Conflict Management  CM:  Competes for control
Growth Challenge:  Accept competence; become cooperative; mirror and value partner’s efforts

:  Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):   Being aggressive, successful, competent, and powerful, losing parental (partner) approval
Internal Message  Don’t be powerful
Core Belief:  I don’t know what to do; I can’t be aggressive or express anger
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be loved if I am good and cooperative
Image of Partner (IP):   Never satisfied; has to win
Relationship to Partner:  Manipulative; compromising; sabotaging
Core Issue  CI:  Feeling controlled; efforts not valued
Typical Frustration TF:  You always have to win
Recurrent Feeling  RF:  Helpless and resentful
Conflict Management  CM:  Compromises; manipulates
Growth Challenge:  Be direct; express power; develop competence; praise partner’s success


Concern for Others STAGE (6-13)

This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the "Filene's Basement" store on the corner, and it's a place where I've often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance... With very rare exceptions, I haven't photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they're in a very defensive situation, and I don't want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right. I don't know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thousght about for some time... What was particularly interesting was that they didn't dwell, didn't try to have a conversation with the young man;they gave him they food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him... ********************** This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me. I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject. For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ... The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.
The LONER:  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):   Ostracism by peers; parental (partner) rejection
Internal Message  Don’t be close
Core Belief:  I am not lovable
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be hurt if I try to be close
Image of Partner (IP):   Gregarious and intrusive
Relationship to Partner:  Exclude partner from inner world; make unilateral plans; counter-dependent
Core Issue  CI:  Partner intrusiveness
Typical Frustration  TF:  You don’t like me; you won’t leave me alone
Recurrent Feeling  RF:  Resentment and depression
Conflict Management  CM:  Avoids conflict; sulks
Growth Challenge:  Develop same-sex friends; join partner in socializing; share feelings and thoughts with partner; become inclusive


The CARETAKER:  Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Having or expressing needs; being excluded; parental (partner) rejection
Internal Message  Don’t have any needs of your own
Core Belief: Others need me
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be loved if I meet your needs
Image of Partner (IP): Unappreciative
Relationship to Partner: Self-sacrificing; intrusive
Core Issue: Partner’s exclusion
Typical Frustration: You don’t appreciate me or my efforts
Recurrent Feeling: Resentment; depression
Conflict Management: Tries to be understanding and nice
Growth Challenge: Express needs to partner and others; self-care; respect partner’s privacy; take time alone 

Intimacy STAGE (13-19)

The REBEL:  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):  Being controlled by others (parent/partner)
Internal Message:  Don’t grow up
Core Belief:  I am not trusted
Relationship Belief:  I’ll be controlled if I give up dissent
Image of Partner:  Too nice; counter-controlling; devalues partner
Relationship to Partner: Rebellious; controlling; devalues partner

Core Issue: Freedom to break the rules
Typical Frustration:  You are never on my side
Recurrent Feeling: Anger and disappointment
Conflict Management: Rebellious; suspicious of motives
Growth Challenge: Maintain self-identity; be responsible to others; learn to trust others


The CONFORMIST: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being different from others; disapproval of parent (partner)
Internal Message: Don’t make waves
Core Belief: I have to be good
RB: I have to hold things together
Image of Partner (IP): Rebellious child
Relationship to Partner: Condescending; critical; controlling
Core Issue : Stability and cooperation
Typical Frustration  TF: You won’t grow up; you always want to be different
Recurrent Feeling  RF:  Angry self-righteousness
Conflict Management CM:  Tries to impose rules
Growth Challenge:  Experiment with being different; take risks, develop identity


Psychiatry, Prozac and Psychotherapy got me through my darkest hour of clinical depression but finding my childhood fear of rejection was the key to my recovery. I didn’t just jump up off the couch healed but began seeing how this fear played out in all my day-to-day relationships with people and money.

In Toastmasters, my Evaluators invariably said, that my speech conclusion was at best short or worse non-existent. I realized that concluding a speech was asking for a judgment from the audience.

The sales manager always wants ‘closers,’ for his sales force. I was a lousy salesman, I couldn’t ask for the order, I couldn’t close, I was terrified that the customer would say no, I was afraid of being REJECTED.

REJECTION, that’s my fear what’s yours?