That afternoon, we drove away from their house. We had been in a difficult conversation. We met with a woman whom we both liked and admired but found difficult. She seemed self-assured and almost smug. I told my wife that it seemed as if she perceived herself to be an expert on most subjects.
Yet, Charlotte had a different take on this woman. “She is actually quite fearful.”
Upon reflection, I think she is correct.
How do you spot a fearful person? Is this a person who is cowering in the corner with fear? Not necessarily. This may be a 30 year old man who, like an insecure boy, is doing his best to appear cool. Actually, one may be speaking with a fearful person and yet not really be aware of this person’s fearfulness. This person may actually be dominated by fear. Children are often more obvious in the way they express their fear. They typically fight or flee when they are afraid. Adults respond in much the same way, only we try to mask our fear.
Consider the following behaviors:
1. The person who speaks with great certainty about most everything in her life. She asks few questions but speaks with seeming authority about a variety of subjects. Such a person often shuts down real discussion with her certainty and definite opinions. Others leave her presence saying, “She didn’t ask me a single questions about my life. Instead, she talked on and on about her life, her children, and her opinions.
2. The person who seems uncomfortable unless he is in control. He does not like change, disruption, or alteration in his routine. He can not live with ambiguity or any sort of uncertainty. Any disruption in everyday matters has a way of upsetting him greatly. Much of his life is spent worrying about what might happen next.
3. The person who, out of his insecurity “keeps his cards close to his vest” at all times. I knew a man who regularly encouraged everyone to be open and transparent in meetings. However, he kept his thoughts, opinions, and conclusions to himself, not revealing what he really thought about matters under discussion.
4. The person who is overly serious about herself. Attempts by another to joke with or tease are not seen as funny and often results in anger.
Are you a person who wrestles with fear? In what way does your fear display itself?