Like needs, fear is a motivator that drives many of our actions but in an opposite manner. We pursue needs and flee from fears.
Many authors have created lists of fears, just as psychologists have documented many phobias. For the purposes of investigating beliefs, perhaps fear can be viewed as bringing uncertainty thus strengthening the need for certainty.
A simple, but useful, list of fears is:
- Success. Despite pursuing success, we often fear the consequences of achieving it: it will change our lives.
- Failure. This fear is often around the judgement of others on our failures. This often overshadows the opportunity to learn from failure and become better.
- Change. All things change- something we can’t ultimately control, only modify the consequences.
- Worthlessness. We are social creatures and weigh our usefulness to others (not really in our control) heavier than our internal self-worth (which is under our control).
- Losing Identity. If we form strong attachment to our current identity, we fear its loss if situations change, which of course will. Identity is a process, not a fixed point.
- Poverty. This is really a fear of loss, centered around material possessions.
It is easy to see how to expand this list, even just by elaborating on each fear. You can also contract the list to three key fears:
- Control. The best way to deal with this is to realize what is truly under your control and what is not.
- Change. Embracing change rather than fighting a losing battle to reject it.
- Loss. Besides trying to avoid material attachments, have confidence is your abilities to overcome.
You might recognize some of the comments on these fears as being aligned with Stoicism (which is not being emotionless and have some parallel to Buddhism) – a philosophy woth exploring.