We are able to feel fear because fear can help us quickly and efficiently act to avoid harm or death when there is a real threat to our safety. But living with fear of rejection, abandonment, conflict, or criticism does just the opposite. This kind of chronic, unrelenting fear robs us of life’s energy and freedom.
What is the cause of these fears?
These fears are based in the unhealed wounds of the past. Until those wounds are healed, we are destined to invest energetically in managing them. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to emerge from childhood without an unhealed wound. When children grow up in unstable and dysfunctional environments, emotional wounds go unexpressed and unhealed.
In a safe, secure, and stable environment the energy of an emotion freely moves through the body until fully expressed and released. But if it isn’t safe to feel that emotion, the movement of that emotional energy must be blocked. Energy cannot be destroyed. It can only be transferred or stored. To store energy, an equal amount of energy is required. To block the energy of an emotion, an equal amount of energy must be used, creating a perpetual expenditure of these two energetic expressions. In other words, energy that would otherwise be available to live freely is committed to managing the unhealed wound.
Managing these unhealed wounds means doing all that you can to avoid feeling the pain of them again. But strategies for avoiding this pain limit what is possible in life.
What is the impact of having these fears?
Fear of rejection might cause you to avoid friendships or romance. If you fear rejection, it will require monumental effort to ask for that raise or promotion, to make those prospecting calls, or to express your needs to your partner.
Fear of abandonment might cause you to cling to your loved ones and experience anxiety when they are five minutes later than you expected them. If you fear abandonment, you may become so controlling and suspicious that you push the people away who you fear being abandoned by.
Fear of conflict might cause you to harbor resentments or to feel intimidated by the prospect of disagreement or sharing your opinion. If you fear conflict, you may become invisible and silent, depressed, anxious, and lonely.
Fear of criticism might cause you to become a perfectionist or a procrastinator or both. You have to do it right or not at all. If you fear criticism, you may become a people pleaser, consumed by what others think of you.
What is the solution?
I have been a life coach since 2011. I’ve always helped my clients by offering them what I found that helped me. Like many of my clients, I emerged from childhood with a full deck of unhealed wounds. What seemed like a normal life had become a cycle of reactions to triggering events. I didn’t know life could be any other way for me. Happy lives were either a myth or only for a fortunate few.
When I was in my forties, I was introduced to The Work of Byron Katie (https://thework.com). By using her method of self inquiry, I began to heal and recover a sense of my True Self.
Then, about five years ago, my therapist introduced me to Internal Family Systems (https://IFS-Institute.com). In 2020 I completed two levels of IFS training and am now an IFS Practitioner.
IFS Practitioners help their clients restore internal balance and wholeness. IFS is a therapy model that recognizes a central Self in each of us that is capable of providing wise and compassionate internal leadership. The energetic polarity that I described previously can also be thought of as parts of us that have conflicting missions. In the case of an unhealed wound, there is a part that is holding the energy of the painful emotion that was never allowed to be released. And there are other parts whose mission it is to make sure that the pain is never felt or released.
Using the IFS therapy model as I have been trained by the IFS Institute to do, I help my clients to resolve this polarity, heal the wound, and restore balance and wholeness. This enables my clients to reclaim the energy of managing the unhealed wound and using it to be more fully self-expressed.
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