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We are all familiar with drug addiction, sex addiction even shopping addiction. We accept these addictions as legitimate and once identify them in ourselves we usually seek treatment. Why not fear addiction? This is much more difficult to spot by ourselves and our friends and family don’t know it’s an issue nor symptoms.
So what is addiction to fear? From the time we were nomads and wandered the earth we were ruled by fear – hunt or starve, start a fire or freeze, etc. Our loving and well meaning parents usually parented in the same fashion – wash your hands or you will get sick, look both ways before crossing the street or you will be run over, etc. Our brain is programmed to, at least in part, make decisions based on fear.
Just as someone can have a glass of wine on a regular bases but not become an alcoholic so can some people process fear. Others, just as in the case of alcoholism, become addicted to fear. Symptoms include:
- chronic worry
- negative self talk
- over thinking a situation to be prepared for all eventualities
- staying in unhealthy relationship
- hover parenting style
- eating disorders
- common addiction
- unfulfilled career
- under/over spending
Although the list is not complete you can see that so many issues have addiction to fear component. Take for example any addiction. At the root an addict doesn’t want to face reality and distracts him/herself with a vice such as alcohol, gambling, sex. Looking further into why are they avoiding reality will be fear:
- fear of not being good enough
- fear of facing childhood traumas and possibly re-evaluating relationship with parents
- fear of taking on additional responsibilities at work and therefore not seeking a promotion
- fear of losing status
By understanding origin of problems and accepting the fact that they are managed by fear one can start making life changes. Working both cognitive behaviorally and psychodynamically will garnish optimum results.