All Fear Is a Story

All fear is a story.

I can’t remember where I’ve seen this idea before, but I feel like it’s an idea I’ve seen multiple times. It also resonates pretty strongly with me.

This topic has come up in many different areas related to the mind.

I see it come up in therapy. We often examine fears. In doing so, we look at stories we’re telling ourselves there. Those may include catastrophizing, personalizing feedback, or all-or-nothing perspectives.

I see it come up in the Enneagram. I’m not an expert in the Enneagram. My experience is pretty much limited to a textbook and several articles I’ve read about it. However, my understanding is that everyone has a core fear. (It is also my current understanding that each personality type in the Enneagram (and similarly, I imagine, in other personality typing frameworks) is a protective adaptation to address that fear.) My current hypothesis is that each of these core fears is a story about disconnection/not belonging.

I see it come up in coaching. We often look at the fears that are holding us back. Underlying these fears are stories where we over-generalize, assume we know what other people will think, or assume we know what the future holds.

Worry is a misuse of your imagination.
–Dan Zadra

I haven’t been reading much lately as I’ve been focused on other projects. However, as some of those wrap-up, I’m planning on digging more into this topic. Some of the books I’m thinking about (re-)visiting include:

  • Awareness by Anthony de Mello
  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
  • How Emotions are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  • The Master and His Emissary by Iain Mcgilchrist
  • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Yesterday, Edvardo Archer also introduced me to the Narrative Therapeutic Framework. I’ve also added that to my research list for this topic.

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know! Would love to expand my awareness of this topic 😻

2 thoughts on “All Fear Is a Story

  1. I struggle with ideas and ideologies that frame life as being driven through core fear and/or core wounds. They have a fair amount of social cache, but I don’t know how much they would stand up to scrutiny.

    Something to think about:

    On Enneagram:

    In a Delphi poll of 101 doctoral-level members of psychological organisations such as the American Psychological Association, the Enneagram was among five psychological treatments and tests which were rated by at least 25% of them as being discredited for personality assessment.

    Experts familiar with the Enneagram rated it with a mean score of 4.14 (3.37 in the first round of the study) which is approximately an equivalent to the option “probably discredited” (3 = possibly discredited, 4 = probably discredited, 5 = certainly discredited).

    Given the the above, and the high failure rate for reproducibility this domain is struggling with, I don’t how much weight I would put on its tenets.

    “Discredited psychological treatments and tests: A Delphi poll”, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Volume 37, Issue 5, 2006, pp. 515–522.

    RE: Narrative Therapy, not really the same thing, but my travels have led me here:

    1. Hey Chris,

      Thanks for the comment 😻

      Ya, I really enjoy theories that take the perspective of core fear/wounds, so I definitely might have some confirmation bias going on there 😺 What leads you to believe those theories wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny?

      Thanks for sharing that research paper. I also came across that recently–I read that summary, but I haven’t gone through the whole paper yet. One of the things that has me skeptical about that paper is that it seems to be (from the title) a poll of experts in a very broad field. It would be liking asking biologists for their opinions on coronavirus or mRNA vaccines–they may have perspective there, but they’re not all positioned to be experts in that subset of the field.

      Nice! I’m unfamiliar with The Science of Storytelling. Have you taken the course or read the book? I added it to my list of things to check out 😸

      Thanks again!

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