Lesson 2.2 - What are your fears?
Welcome to the second lesson of this second module. In this lesson, we’re going to go over different types of fear that drive our behavior and our perfectionism in particular.
While fear sometimes motivates us to make positive change, it can also keep us stuck. Deep fears can leave us feeling angry, resentful, and worn out.
We all have fears. They’re a necessary and helpful component of human existence. But the more locked away our fears are from our conscious thought, the more they drive us to behave in unsatisfying, self-destructive, and limiting ways, without our awareness or consent.
Mind you, fears can be BIG, deep-seated fears, but some of them can also be small or show up as a random thought.
I like to think of fear as the court jester of emotions, because it has many disguises. It has been known to masquerade as self-preservation, protection, expectation, and the desire to fit in.
Fear can come from past experiences. It can be rooted in our present situation. Or it can show up as worrying about the future.
Okay, time to bust out your worksheet and start identifying your fears. Perhaps you can write them down right away, but I also encourage you to work through the questions on the worksheet to make sure you don’t miss out on an important fear that’s affecting your life.
Around which topic or in what area of your life is your inner critic, or the negative self-talk in your head, most active?
Do you have repetitive thoughts that are irrational?
Do you have repetitive thoughts that are mean?
Are there situations where you experience the physical signs of fear or where you go into a sweaty-palmed panic at the very thought of doing something?
Are there areas in your life where you make excuses?
Are there things you can’t stop worrying about?
Use all of the things you’ve written down and see if there are overarching fears at play.
Fears that are very common and that most of us have experienced at some point in our lives are:
Fear of failure
Fear of success
Fear of negative feedback
Fear of disapproval or rejection
Fear of losing control
Fear of the unknown
Fear of not being good enough
Now, look back over your fears and identify which one (or ones) specifically fuel your perfectionism. Underline, circle, or highlight those on the worksheet.
For myself, I know that the last fear of not being good enough is the core fear that I’m trying to alleviate through my perfectionism. But it might be something else for you entirely.
What could be helpful here is to look back over your perfectionism journal entries. Maybe your perfectionism shows up in situations where you face rejection. Or you use your perfectionism to keep yourself out of situations where you can possibly fail.
Take some time with this exercise.
The reason why knowing your perfectionism-related fears is important, is because you can use it in sort of a preemptive way. If, for instance, fear of the unknown is one of your biggest fears and you know you’ll be in a situation with a lot of unknowns, like a networking event where you don’t know a single soul, where normally your perfectionist control issues would play up in a situation like this, you now can prepare yourself for that situation.
You could do some research beforehand, you could set boundaries for yourself, you could set attainable goals (like, say, you only have to strike up a conversation with 5 people for your visit to be a success), or you could employ one of the many strategies for dealing with perfectionism we’ll be going over later in this course.
Okay, that’s it for this lesson. You’re doing great my perfectionism-busting friend. Keep working at it and working through the exercises. I’ll see you over in the next video!