It’s a sad fact that almost all of us are living in fear in some aspect of our lives. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re always aware of being frightened of something. Fear can manifest in many different ways, some of which most of us don’t immediately recognize. Today, we’re taking a look at the full picture of what I call “the fruits of fear.” Basically, these are the eight categories through which fear can creep in and prevent you from having your best life. Some are obvious, while others seem counterintuitive, but in each category, we can either believe the truth, or a lie. Love and goodness always flows from truth, while fear and illness flows from lies. Let’s get started!
1. Depression vs. Joy
Depression is a huge, life-defining issue for many people, but this fruit is even bigger than that, because it isn’t limited to only the clinical disorder. Think about how rare joy is, that overwhelming, fulfilling enthusiasm for life. Very few people are fortunate enough to have that, and when we see it in someone else, we are instinctively drawn to it. We understand intuitively that it is rare and precious. A truthful view of this category means that we are secure and at peace with our past, while a lie will lead to sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness.
2. Anxiety vs. Peace
While the previous category might be viewed as an issue of security in the past, this one is rooted in our security or insecurity about the future. Like depression, anxiety often rises to the level of a disorder, but also affects huge numbers of people to a lesser degree. Wrong beliefs in this category often come from unhealthy expectations of things you have no real ability to control. This kind of fearful belief leads to constant stress, while truth and security in this category allow us to remain calm and at peace even in difficult times. It’s well worth learning!
3. Anger vs. Patience
Anger is not usually thought about in the same debilitating terms as depression or anxiety, but it can absolutely hold you back from your full potential. Anger means that you’re not at peace with your present circumstances. You could say that you’re upset because life has failed to live up to your expectations. Those expectations may be childish or comparatively reasonable, but the fact that you’re upset by them means you shouldn’t be setting them up as your goals. The best goals are internal states that you’re capable of choosing in the present moment, and it’s these kinds of goals that lead to peace and patience.
4. Rejection vs. Acceptance
In my thirty years in health and counseling, I’ve never met a single person who didn’t have a rejection issue. This is the category of personal security and of safety, whether physical, relational, or emotional. There are countless ways that this sort of thing can manifest. For example, someone going through financial difficulties might worry about ending up on the street. That’s a security issue. At the most basic, it’s about whether you feel valued and loved, or whether you feel hurt by other people. It’s something I think everyone struggles with to some extent. Eventually, we have to trust ourselves and others enough to feel accepted, and to accept others in return.
5. Unforgiveness vs. Forgiveness
Dr. Ben Johnson, MD, is a cancer specialist and a great friend of mine who once said that he had never seen a cancer without an accompanying unforgiveness issue. I would extend that to not only cancer, but any health issue. Typically, we have trouble forgiving when we’ve been hurt, because it feels like letting them off the hook. But that’s not how it works at all. Unforgiveness is a poison that’s most dangerous to the one who uses it. There’s a good reason why ancient manuscripts are so strongly set against it, to the point that they caution us never to let the sun set on our anger. The lie behind unforgiveness is one of pride. It takes a lot of humility to really forgive someone, because we have to be willing to set our own concerns aside. Until we’re capable of doing that, lasting happiness will be impossible.
6. Control vs. Faith
Most of us don’t tend to see the ability to control our circumstances as a negative thing. Today, maybe more than ever, the order of the day is to attempt to control every aspect of your life to the best of your ability, so that you can shape it to be what you want. Of course, making preparations for the future is necessary and important. The trouble comes when you progress from being prudent to feeling a need to manipulate everything (and potentially everyone) in your life. Truth in this category means being secure enough in your future to leave what you can’t control to faith, while fear will lead you to be grasping and manipulative, and will ultimately damage both your potential for the future and your present relationships.
7. False Self-Image vs. Humility
When most people think about humility, they think of being meek, passive, and praise-avoidant. It may be true that many humble people share these traits, but I do not think any of them are at the heart of real humility. In my opinion, humility simply means having an accurate view of yourself. The lie can be one of either inferiority or superiority. Either way, it tends to be a problem of self-worth, which comes from fear and stress. When you have these problems, you’ll tend to compare yourself to others, which will only make the problem worse. Ultimately, both types of lie are incredibly harmful, and can lead to almost any kind of problem you could name.
8. Indulgence vs. Self-Discipline
Self-discipline is not the same as self-control. Self-discipline, in fact, means the ability to give up control in order to do what’s right, or what’s best for yourself and others. It overlaps with the “faith or control” category. The problem comes from either fear of success, or fear of failure. This tends to lead us to procrastinate or give up, and can also lead us to unhealthy desires of the senses, such as drugs, alcohol, money, and the things money can buy. This kind of indulgence is always a “love substitute.” It’s an alternative to doing the things that you really need, but that your fear prevents you from doing. Real self-discipline means putting one foot in front of the other and doing your best, regardless of what happens. Keep doing that, and you’ll find yourself at peace, no matter what the outcome, because the end result is no longer the goal. You’re committed to the present.
Something you should take away from this week is that all of us struggle with all of these issues to one extent or another. Lord knows I have. In the meantime, I would urge you to meditate on these eight battlefields, and ask yourself which of these are crucial in your life at this moment. Eventually, we’re going to address all of them in detail, but if you want to go deeper right now, consider joining us on All Access and using one of our programs, like the 12 Categories, to explore these issues further.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!