We will do almost anything to remain in denial of our fear in order to maintain the illusion of control we so desire. We engage in all sorts of dishonest behavior, including lying to people we love and to ourselves. We do things we know in our hearts aren’t right and we regret them, which only causes us more hurt and fear. It becomes a vicious cycle.
On the topic of fear, dishonesty, denial and control, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Our fear is like the first tile in a string of dominoes. Our denial of fear causes us to lie, to cheat, and to become people we don’t even respect in order to maintain our illusion of control. We lie because we are fearful, and we are fearful because we lie. It is a circular process and we feel stuck in the middle of these raging feelings.
What a relief it is to admit our fears! What a relief it is to admit that we are powerless over our fears and they are making our life unmanageable! This opens the door to admit that if we return to our inner process, our power greater than ourselves, we can feel sane again.
All of us are afraid sometimes; that’s human. When our life is ruled by fear, that’s addiction.”
What a relief, indeed. Fear comes in many forms. We’re afraid we are not good enough. Not smart enough. We don’t know as much as other people, or as much as we should. We’re afraid other people don’t like us; we’re unlovable. We’re afraid of failure and rejection. Fear clenches my heart, tightening my lungs and dropping like a stone in my stomach, whenever I am presented with a question at work to which I do not know the answer. I panic that I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, and now finally the moment has come when I will be found out for the fraud that I am. Then I take a deep breath, remind myself that it is okay, and admit I don’t know. I feel a sense of relief then, because I have been honest. There was a time when I would lie and pretend to know, only to then have to do hours of research on my own to try to learn. I would grow frustrated at the struggle to comprehend, the hours wasted on a task I knew was taking far more time than it reasonably should have. It feels awful to deny yourself the opportunity to be honest with people. Likewise, it is wonderful to live in your truth, even if it means facing your fears. Especially then.
My fear of rejection and that I am unlikable have led me in the past to turn to substance abuse over true human connection. I lived in denial, telling myself that I was better off without other people. Life was better this way. There was no need to compromise; I could do want I want! I was happy. That is the saddest lie of all—to tell yourself that you’re happy when you are not, all because you are afraid to admit your fears and change.
Life is meant to be lived to its fullest and enjoyed. That sometimes means doing things that scare you. The more you do this though, the more you realize it isn’t so bad after all. You are okay. You live.