What Do You Fear?


How on earth are we born with so much potential for emotional achievement, yet we wind up making ourselves throw up, murder people who don’t cooperate with us, punch people in the throat who speak their mind and become depressed when we find ourselves cheated on, taken advantage of, lied to and criticized?  The answer to this question, for me, is to ask myself what people fear.  Once I discover the answer to that question, I can almost always begin to discover the source of nearly any emotional response I encounter in myself and others, e.g., “My partner doesn’t love me anymore.  What do I fear?  I am afraid I will be alone.  I am afraid I won’t ever find anyone to love me again.  I’m afraid I am completely bad and unattractive because my partner rejected me.”

That is a lot to be afraid of.

Here’s another example of defining the problem and finding meaning:

EI Guide:  So what happened?

Learner:  She stared at me the wrong way.  I could tell she was thinking, You disgust me.

EI Guide:  Goodness, what did you do?

Learner:  I told her to watch her face or I’d watch it for her.

EI Guide:  How did you know she was thinking that particular thought about you?  Maybe she ate something that upset her stomach.

Learner:  Believe me; I’ve seen that face before. I know ridicule when I see it.

EI Guide: I’ll play along.  What was she doing, exactly?

Learner:  Well, I was eating my baked cod and she was looking over at me.

EI Guide: How was that a problem for you?

Learner:  She should be looking at her own plate.  She shouldn’t be staring at me. I need to have some privacy when I’m eating. You know what I mean?

EI Guide:  I’m sure I don’t.  But let’s just ask what this means, this looking and staring.  What does it mean to you that she was doing all these things?

Learner:  It means she was looking down at me because of the way I was dressed.  I was wearing jeans and a tube top. This is America.  A man can wear jeans and a tube top if he wants!”

EI Guide:  I’m sure you’re right.  But what does it mean to you that she was looking at you that way?”

Learner:  It means she thought I was foolish and a joke and that she was better than me.”

EI Guide:  And what would that mean?

Learner:  That she was right?

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9 responses

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