Of all the lessons that we learn fear is the most invidious of them all. Of all fears the most devastating are those that arise because of love deprivation or because of conditional love.
We are born with only two fears. These are the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. These two fears are harmless and do not in any way shape our personalities and characters. They do not determine the degree of happiness we enjoy in this life. However, in early childhood most people acquire two other fears that severely eviscerate their chances of succeeding in life. These are the fear of failure or loss, and the fear of rejection.
As children we tend to be very experimental and adventurous. It is this urge to experiment, and try things out without being overly concerned about the consequences that allow children to learn and make progress very quickly. However, in the process of experimenting, children often get things wrong. Unfortunately, parents, adults and other authority figures react to the mistakes that children make by criticising, and even punishing them verbally or physically. These punishments come across to children as the withdrawal or withholding of love.
Love is the deepest need of all human beings, and the withdrawal of it is the worst punishment that one person can impose on another. Criticism teaches children that failure has a negative consequence. Children that are often criticised and punished develop a fear of trying out new things. They associate failure with punishment. They begin to develop feelings of inadequacy, incapability, smallness and incompetence.
This is a lesson that is carried over into adulthood. In adult life this fear of failure manifests itself as an avoidance of risk. We tend to ask ourselves what if things go wrong, yet we should be asking ourselves what if things go well. We tend to focus on the pain that will follow, if things go wrong instead of considering the benefits and gain that accrue should things go well. We therefore, avoid taking actions that would dramatically alter the courses of our lives, because we are afraid of the consequences of failure.
We hold ourselves back instead of unleashing ourselves on the world. We live apologetic, inhibited and cautious lives instead of igniting our brilliance. We sell ourselves short and never fully express ourselves. We tend to let this fear of failure pervade our business, social, career and love life.
The fear of failure is a learned fear. It is the primary cause of failure and timidity in adult life. It teaches us to be more security-conscious than opportunity-minded.
The second debilitating fear is the fear of rejection. Fear of rejection has grave consequences on personality. Rejection can be outright, but in most cases it is subtle. It is not often the case that your parents or other important people in your life will reject or disown you. However, rejection often expresses itself as excessive criticism. When people criticise you, they essentially reject you.
When people criticise your behaviour, they are rejecting your behaviour. The tragedy is that people often criticise the person instead of criticising the behaviour. For example, statements like, she is sloppy, useless, ugly, mischievous etc, tend to attack the person directly and not her behaviour.
Sometimes parents and authority figures respond to wrong acts done by withdrawing attention, minimising contact and communication, withdrawing favours and withholding love. This communicates to the person being punished that love is conditional on acceptable behavior. This teaches children and subordinates that they are not loved for who they are, but for what they can do.
This fear of rejection is so powerful that people learn to do and say things not because they believe that they are doing the right thing, but because they believe they are expected to do so. They learn to conform rather than be themselves. Rather than be authentic, people will try to do and say things to impress other people.
In pursuit of approval from people, they lose their true identity and begin to live a lie. This is why people will lie about what they earn, what they do at work and about their general status. Tragically in an attempt to deceive the world about who they really are, people end up deceiving themselves also. They create lies which can only be sustained by more lies. This leads to self delusion which is the surest way to disaster.
Behind every lie told is a deep desperation for approval. People lie because they fear that if the truth is found out they will be rejected. In the extreme cases people will begin to live double lives with the other hidden life loaded with dark lies and secrets.
Fear of rejection breeds approval addiction. Approval addiction in turn creates indecision, hesitancy and general character weakness. People therefore tend to avoid anything that they feel will attract criticism and rejection, and they become very hypersensitive to criticism.
Such people will not take any initiative at work and in their careers, and they are always fearful that their social relationships will not work. Everything they do is centered on trying to please people and gain their approval. They become slaves of approval addiction, and are very vulnerable to the sweet- tongued charming crooks. They will bend over backwards to seek the praise and approval of people but in the process they neglect their true interests. Because they were deprived of unconditional love in childhood, they become dysfunctional self-destructing adults.