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What are you hiding?

What are you hiding?
What are you hiding?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the two types of fears and the link to the question “What are you hiding?”

First a quick update:

“Chaz Bono”
Threatened to sue the National Enquirer over an article that claims that his weight, stress, and the medications and issues associated with his gender reassignment, could increase the likelihood of an early death. The article cited me as a Human Behavior Expert but also left out critical quotes and analyses of mine and I therefore recorded an urgent video message to Chaz, watch it here. But in a new photo, it also seems that Chaz is defiant in spite of the warnings to his health. Read more on my blog.

Now, let’s talk about the two primary fears and what you might be hiding.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
– Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, social activist, first lady and the wife of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Fear can be separated into two categories:

  1. Physiological/Neurological
  2. Cognitive/Emotional.

Physiological Fear
Physiological Fear refers to fear of organic origin, hardwired in the brain – such as Fight or Flight Syndrome (when we feel our physical safety or survival is threatened and we unconsciously automatically respond with the reflex to defend or to run.) Physiological Fear originates in our reptilian brain or brain stem (the most primitive part of the human brain.) The reptilian brain is responsible for functions connected to our survival:

  • Breathing
  • Digestion
  • Circulation
  • Elimination
  • Temperature
  • Fight or Flight
  • Movement, posture and balance

Cognitive/emotional fear
While infants are born with only two primary fears (falling and loud noises – both of which impact or seem to threaten survival) recent studies reveal that people aren’t born afraid of spiders and snakes: fear is quickly learned during infancy. (Current Directions in Psychological Science – Vanessa LoBue of Rutgers University, David H. Rakison of Carnegie Mellon University and Judy S. DeLoache of the University of Virginia.)

This is an example of a learned fear based on past experience, perception, judgment and negative anticipation. Another example of cognitive/emotional fear – learned fears – is the fear your feel when taking an exam, doing your tax returns or asking someone out on a date. Learned fears including phobias and anxieties occur once we learn to attach and associate pain with a particular event i.e. a young boy rejected by a girl may quickly associate emotional pain (humiliation, shame, rejection) with girls and thus he learns to fear dating and relationships. A girl molested as a child may learn to fear intimacy later in life.

Physiological and Cognitive/Emotional Fears both ultimately involve the avoidance of pain – physical or emotional. And the latest studies reveal that our brains process emotional pain in a way that seems to mimic the way our brains process physical pain. In other words, it is difficult for us to clearly distinguish the difference between physical and emotional pain. However, it is also apparent that humans seem to be able to override physical fears with greater ease than overcoming emotional fears.

When it came to dating and relationships, Julia, would become paralyzed. Julia experienced a poor relationship with an absent father growing up, and she now felt that she couldn’t trust men; she would always push them away. But in the physical world, Julia was a daring 25-year old who could bungee jump from a 120-foot bridge or engage in Fear Factor type food challenges – eating worms, cockroaches and other bugs.

Why could Julia excel in overcoming one fear but not the other?

The key here is to understand the power of emotions.

Emotions can override powerful fundamental drives that were once considered as unmovable and unbreakable such as hunger, sex and survival.

People can starve themselves for days or even to the point of death, thus overriding the drive for food and survival; people can choose a life of celibacy or never again engage in sex because of a negative experience such as child abuse, thus overriding the drive for sex and; people who have are in deep despair or agony can lose the will to survive and commit suicide, thus also overriding what is believed to be the only true human instinct – the need and drive for survival.

Emotional fear is extremely powerful and can be crippling. Most emotional fears can be broken down into the fear of rejection or the fear of being alone (the latter is a common subconscious fear more prevalent amongst women than men.)

The fear of being rejected and thus also being abandoned or left alone often unknowingly not only drives our behavior but also controls it or paralyzes it.

In his book, “Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life”, renowned pioneering psychologist Dr. Paul Ekman reveals that when our parents admonish us as children to “Get that smirk off your face” the result is that we grow into adults who learn to “diminish, hide completely or mask the expression of the emotion we are feeling.”

As such, many of us have learned to hide or even repress our emotions.

And yes, the inability to properly, safely, appropriately and effectively express and release our emotions can lead to alcoholism, addictions, abuse, violence, depression and a host of other mental and behavioral problems.

But beneath the emotions we hide is something else – often a secret or something that we refuse to expose, share or reveal and which can destroy relationships.

Ask yourself:

“What important truth am I hiding?”

What is the one thing that you are afraid of telling people about yourself; the one thing that maybe you are afraid of admitting to yourself?

There is always something that we feel ashamed about, something that we believe that if we were to reveal, it would mean that we would be rejected or tossed out or unloved.  And yet, when we do share the truth it sets us free.

Moving beyond the fear (the anticipation of pain) and doing the thing we think we cannot do – revealing the truth to our partner can result in the tearing down of mental and emotional walls, releasing us of emotional burden and guilt and potentially strengthen the relationship or at the very least encourage and open the door for us to live life freely, confidently and courageously – and with self-love.

Also read my article: “Are you an impostor?”

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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