I am pretty sure you won't find this word anywhere in the dictionary, so you Scrabble fanatics looking for a great triple word score are bound to be disappointed. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the concept of the "Feararchy" presented by Psychology Today. Essentially, it refers to the five basic fears we all live by. Similar to the five food groups, these literally make up the foundation of every fear we experience.
So, why was I intrigued by the Feararchy? Because I, like most people I know, am "afraid" of fear. Ironic, isn't it? However, I do know that the more I try to understand fear, the better I deal with it in the moment.
The five basic fears are defined as the following, in order of intensity:
Extinction – Fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist; the idea of stepping too close to the edge of a building and slipping.
Mutilation – Fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of being eaten alive by an alligator or bear.
Loss of Autonomy – Fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered; some may call this claustrophobia or anxiety in a group setting.
Separation – Fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness – of becoming an outcast, not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else; the idea of being bullied or receiving the "silent treatment" by an individual or group.
Ego-death – Fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of being judged for opinions or beliefs.
Okay, so that's it, according to Psychology Today. Whether we are afraid of talking in front of a group, having a difficult conversation, or following our dreams, the fear stopping us fits into one of the above categories. Assuming that most of us won't fall off a building, or get eaten by a bear, we really only have to deal with three fears, and that feels doable to me.
Like so many things in life that are scary, the more we can understand and compartmentalize, the easier we can work through the challenges. If you can rationally talk yourself through these basic fears, it might just help to get to the root of the issue and move on.
I am ready to start dissecting my fears. Is anyone willing to join me?