09/12/2012 08:54 am ET | Updated Nov 12, 2012

From Fearful To Flourishing

I woke up with a blinding flash of the obvious last week! That the opposite of fear is... wait for it... UNDERSTANDING!

Perhaps you are thinking, Well, DUH. But for me it was like a thunderbolt! All those times I have made judgments and rash decisions based on fear because I didn't really understand the total picture of what was going on, or because I didn't really understand myself and my motives or drivers.

This is where the fears come in! We are living lives of habits and patterns ruled unconsciously by fear. Most of us go through each day barely conscious of these patterns or habits until someone (usually a close someone!) points them out to us.

I have been working on this for some years now -- well, really my whole adult life. Some of my greatest lessons come from my relationship with that "special" person. Bless those from the past and my husband now for the gifts of insight they have given me.

My goal with these blogs is to take us all (me included!) on a journey of discovery -- to discover the root of all our problems in life: our deepest fears! To understand the source of them and how they influence us every moment of every day -- and how they block our joy.

To date, I have discovered three core fears that I believe underpin all our habits, patterns and problems. These emerged after a year or so of thinking about what my own patterns were and why I behaved the way I did. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I have been exploring these ideas for over a year and they seem to resonate with most people.

Here they are!

  1. The first big one is a blend of ''I am not good enough," "I am not worth loving," and/or "I am not loved."

  • The second biggie is a fear of being unsafe in some way.
  • The third is a fear of death or separation.
  • Not sure if one jumps out at you immediately -- it took me a while! It all started when I was in a remote-ish town in the U.S., staying with a client who had booked me to speak at a conference. She was lovely, happily married to her second husband and had her mother staying with her at the time.

    I found a small black book in the kitchen and picked it up as a conversation starter. Well, it turned out to be the Al Anon bible -- the handbook for people affected by alcoholics. Al Anon is closely linked to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

    It was shocking actually, because I recognized myself in so many of the passages. This client's father had been an alcoholic and so had her first husband, so she was an expert in this area. She recommended that I read a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Janet Woititz... which I did. My life changed!

    Suddenly, I understood and could see many of my behavioral patterns: trying to keep everyone happy, being overly concerned about people's moods, and trying to "fix" things were among a range of realizations.

    I knew that my father had been an alcoholic, but as my parents divorced when I was 5 and I had no memory at all of any of my early years (a clue!) and only remembered a mother who adored me, I really thought I'd had a great childhood. I always believed I was unaffected by his drinking.

    As it turns out, I did pick up many of those adult-children-of-alcoholics traits and had an "inner toddler" who looked at the world now as if it was the same world it was when she was 3 or 4. This inner toddler had no idea of what was really going on in her life, she just knew that Daddy was erratic and Mummy had gone away (I found that out later as well) but it must have been her fault.

    Without that ability to understand the whole picture of what was going on, my inner toddler, as all toddlers do, believed she was at the center of and the cause of everything! She felt unsafe and not worthy of love.

    Of course, I didn't know any of this until I was about 50. I am 58 now. My mother has passed; I found out she had been ill and gone away for a year. I read this book and started to work on myself.

    So that's a little of my story, and I hope you continue to read my blog as I talk about the things I have learned along the way that have given me more control over my fears, life and relationships -- and to flourish.

    There are so many layers for us to understand in order for our "inner toddler" to feel loved and safe and connected. We have lots of material!

    If you have any comments or thoughts on these thoughts, I would love to "hear" them! Do the fears I've talked about resonate with you? Can you see how they might be affecting you on a daily basis? Think defensive, protective, or controlling behaviors... are they criticisms your loved ones offer you consistently?

    Zooties, Amanda Gore

    For more by Amanda Gore, click here.

    For more on becoming fearless, click here.