Fear Based Personalities

businesswoman hiding under smiley paper bag over dark backgroundWhen you struggle with anxiety with the intensity that I did, you begin to recognize unhealthy levels of anxiety in others, even if they don’t recognize it in themselves. For me, living with severe anxiety and panic was evident to anyone close to me. It was loud and proud!

However, for some of us, anxiety and fear has been a major part of our life and we don’t even recognize it.

When I first set out to write about anxiety, the first post in my Fearless in 21 Days series, was about understanding fear. I have come across so many well intentioned people who tried to help me ‘overcome’ anxiety with advice, healing crystals, scriptures, essential oils…etc.  These same people seemed dumbfounded by my visible mental frailty, but as they talked, I realized that a lot of them carried some very serious hidden symptoms of anxiety themselves.

I came to this conclusion. WE ALL STRUGGLE WITH FEAR! Some of us openly, some of us hidden. Some of us physically express it, others emotionally. FEAR WILL ALWAYS BE A COMMON HUMAN CONDITION, guiding our emotions and decisions. However, we may not be able to rid ourselves of it, but we can learn to see it for what it is, accept the truth that we are indeed afraid, and then do the right thing despite it. That’s indeed bravery!

“we may not be able to rid ourselves of fear, but we can learn to see it for what it is, accept the truth that we are indeed afraid, and then do the right thing despite it. That’s indeed bravery!”

As I worked through my anxieties,  and all the emotions and temptations that came with it, I saw a connection between different personality traits.
– People who have a bossy and assertive manner on the outside, whose motto is ‘fear nothing and no one!” are often ones plagued with fear. Their attempt to control others and the circumstances around them is rooted in the fear that IF THEY DON’T CONTROL IT,  IT WILL ALL FALL APART!

Fix Its – The classic fixer upper, who can’t bear to see others in distress or have others mad at them, become fixer uppers. This comes out of a genuine heart to help others, but it can also be a symptom of fear – IF THEY ARE MAD, THEN I FEEL UNSAFE, IF I FIX THEM THEN I FEEL BETTER.

The Overachiever – They go, go, go, go, always trying to reach the top, always trying to be better, always trying to strive for the win – IF I AM NOT ON TOP, THEN I RISK REJECTION. This can be evident even in the religious  overachiever, who strives to be the best Christian, the most devoted.

The Angry Man//Woman – I also believe anger is a symptom of depression, but it is also a symptom of anxiety. Anger is often an easier emotion to express than admitting fear, because anger gives us a sense of power in the moment. IF YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I HAVE NO CONTROL THEN I WILL EXPLODE UNTIL I FEEL LIKE I HAVE MY POWER BACK.

This reminds me of the time my Aunt took my 4-year-old skiing for the first time (13 years ago). She gently pushed her down the bunny hill, and met her at the bottom to catch her. My fear-stricken 4-year-old, got to the bottom in one piece, but waddled up to my Aunt, who had outstretched arms to congratulate her – my daughter reached out her arms and smacked her! She was so livid, because she had been so afraid!

Apathy – “meh”- This is one of my default fear feelings. IF I CAN’T FACE MY FEARS, I WILL JUST SHUT DOWN MY ABILITY TO CARE. Many people who have battled with anxiety will eventually shut down, close the blinds and shrink away from life. I get this, because fear is exhausting, but what often seems like a person who doesn’t care, is usually a person who fears, a lot.

When we see ourselves exhibiting certain symptoms of fear, like controlling behavior, an intense need to fix and meddle, anger outbursts, or apathy, ask yourself “What am I afraid of?” Or if you see others in this state, ask them “what are you afraid of?”
What I know for certain about fear

We have to stop trying to rid ourselves of fear, it’s an exhausting endeavor that will never cease, a battle that will never be won, a fight that increases our risk of enslavement. We must learn to face our fears, embrace our fears, and accept them as we bravely respond in the opposite way our fear is telling us to go.

“We have to stop trying to rid ourselves of fear, it’s an exhausting endeavour that will never cease, a battle that will never be won, a fight that increases our risk of enslavement. We must learn to face our fears, embrace our fears, and accept them as we bravely respond in the opposite way our fear is telling us to go. “

2 thoughts on “Fear Based Personalities”

  1. The Baby Mama says:

    Dear Sarah,

    You know I always love your writing, but this post has been bothering me somewhat. You see, I was (am?) that fearful personality. I was the one kid who would dip their toes in the water before swimming, while all the other kids would jump in and just enjoy. I have always been cautious and take things slowly. I understand fear – I know this full well. A little too well.

    But, I don’t agree that we can’t ever move to a point of not having fear. Our default mode is power, love and a sound mind. Fear is learnt, and it torments us, and the Devil will use everything in his arsenal to make our lives revolve around fear – because then we cease to have true effectiveness in the Kingdom of God. But, it is not how God created us. He created us with power, love and a sound mind; He created us in His image; He created us to experience His peace and His love. That spirit of fear that torments so many of us – that left me waking up numerous times in the night with such dread that I couldn’t move, or breathe, or anything – is something that we can move beyond. Completely. (Because I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength – Phil 4:13).

    Not only do we need to change how we think, and WHAT we think about – we need to trust God, and keep moving forward. Keep moving back to our default mode – how God created us. And I do believe we will win the battle against fear – perhaps I am being naive because I am still walking this road – but we will win the battle because God has already won the battle through Jesus Christ. And the longer we walk, the more we will see victory in this life (no matter how small), and in complete and fullness in the next life.

    My concern is that if we start saying that we will always have fear because some of us are just made that way, its starts to be become an excuse, a way of thinking that will forever see us tied to fear. And if we say that, then what’s to stop anyone else from saying the same thing? “Oh, I just get angry all the time, because that’s just my personality…”, or “Oh, well, I am just this way because that’s just how I am”, or “I eat and eat and eat because well, God made me fat…” God called us to more than that. He has called us to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God and I don’t see fear ever being part of that.

    1. Sarah B says:

      I love this comment! I totally agree, and we can absolutely be set free from the torment of fear.
      I think that fear will always be a temptation to any person and personality. I also believe there is a huge difference between the severe anxiety you and I both know well, and the “what if” thoughts that pop in.
      I am referring to that, not the torment of fear.
      Since God has healed me, which I still walk totally set free from crippling fear, panic and anxiety. I still face situations that causes fearful thoughts and a temptation to panic.
      The victory for me is the peace that is in me now, the sound mind that God has restored, quickly puts that fear in place and I know have the power to choose. Where before it chose me.
      I love your determination to be free from fear, and I totally agree with you 10000% that you don’t have to be tormented by it any more!

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