Ada — There are many different types of fear that we can experience in the course of a lifetime. The most significant and disabling of those fears are the ones that have to do with our relationships with others.
One of those major fears, the fear of rejection, we have already covered in a previous issue. Let’s talk about the other three.
When Robert McGee wrote The Search for Significance, many of us could identify with the dilemma of growing up in a culture that defined value and worth through achievement, accomplishment, and the approval of others. Billy Graham is quoted as saying, “Every Christian ought to read this book.” I believe he is right. Some of us need it more than others. Those of us that are “first-borns” seem to be most susceptible to the drivenness McGee describes.
In our drivenness to feel good about ourselves through achievement, accomplishment, and the approval of others, we can often be selfish, negligent users of others, only to discover that when we obtain our goal, we find ourselves feeling strangely empty after our celebration of attainment, and wonder why. In the early stages, we think we just need another goal or achievement to work toward and we will be OK. Or maybe if we can just get that one more person or group to like us we will be OK.
The world’s model for self-esteem will always result in drivenness, at the expense of ourselves, others, and our relationships with them. It will never result in the peace and contentedness that we were designed to have.
The four fears that drive us are fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of punishment, and shame. If you want to discover which of the four you are most susceptible to, take the simple two-minute quizzes at the ends of chapters three, five, seven, and nine.