1. The Fear of Being Alone
We dread reaching out and finding nobody there to respond to our needs. We fear being ignored, being left alone, and being seen as unimportant. We feel the world does not respond to our needs. So what’s the use?
2. The Fear of Connecting
Because of frightening and painful experiences in the past, connecting emotionally and intimately with others feels dangerous. Our life experiences have left us feeling that the world is not a safe place. We fear injury so we withdraw from connections.
3. The Fear of Being Abandoned
After having connected emotionally or bonded with someone, we fear either being abandoned with our own needs or being swallowed up by the other person’s needs. In either case we feel the world is not a dependable place, that we live in danger of emotional abandonment. We may become clingy and dependent or we may become super-independent—or both.
4. The Fear of Self-Assertion
We have all experienced rejection and punishment for expressing ourselves in opposition to others. We come to fear asserting ourselves and our needs in relationships. We feel the world does not allow us to be truly ourselves. We may either cease putting ourselves out there altogether or we may assert ourselves with a demanding vengeance.
5. The Fear of Lack of Recognition
When we do not get the acceptance and confirmation we need in relationships, we are left with a feeling of not being seen or recognized for who we really are. We may then fear we will not be affirmed or confirmed in our relationships. Or we may fear that others will only respect and love us if we are who they want us to be. We may work continuously to feel seen and recognized by others or we may give up in rage, humiliation or shame.
6. The Fear of Failure and Success
When we have loved and lost or tried and failed, we may fear opening ourselves up to painful competitive experience again. When we have succeeded or won—possibly at someone else’s expense—we may experience guilt or fear retaliation. Thus we learn to hold back in love and life, thereby not risking either failure or success. We may feel the world does not allow us to be fulfilled. Or we may feel guilty and afraid for feeling fulfilled.
7. The Fear of Being Fully Alive
Our expansiveness, creative energy and joy in our aliveness inevitably come into conflict with demands from family, work, religion, culture, and society. We come to believe that we must curtail our aliveness in order to be able to conform to the demands and expectations of the world we live in. We feel the world does not permit us to be fully, joyfully, and passionately alive. Rather than putting our whole selves out there with full energy and aliveness, we may throw in the towel, succumb to mediocre conformity, or fall into a living deadness.
The Four Listening Perspectives and Seven Deadly Fears
IV. The independent experience
7. The fear of being fully alive
6. The fear of failure and success
III. The self-other experience
5. The fear of lack of recognition
II. The symbiotic experience
4. The fear of self-assertion
3. The fear of being abandoned
I. The organizing experience
2. The fear of connecting
1. The fear of being alone