Fear is, for some, fuel that propels to great new heights, but for most, it is self-sabotaging sludge.
According to research conducted by Ruth Soukup, Author of Do It Scared: Finding the Courage to Face Your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love, there are eight “fear archetypes” that thwart progress and dash hopes.
All are cunning characters who can disguise abject terror or mild trepidation, and most arrestingly, keep us idle at our expense.
The first two: the Rule Follower and the People Pleaser are deeply conditioned to acquiesce instead of push the envelope and withstand disapproval. Terrified of reprisal or displeasing their spouses, these two archetypes struggle most when they represent themselves in divorce, but on a positive note, they rarely face recrimination.
The Excuse Maker, the Pessimist, and the Self-Doubter are a motley crew of naysayers afraid of blame, change, and failure. They’re terrific at finding reasons not to move forward and almost always anticipate the worst, which in divorce can mean they won’t ask for what they want or need. On the flip side, they often work hard and can be keen observers.
The Procrastinator and Perfectionist are a talented duo who want to dot every “i” and cross every “t.” Their extensive planning and research can put things off indefinitely or at least until their spouse or judge force their hands. On the upside, these two can be marvelously accurate and organized when not disheveled and unprepared.
The Outcast appears to be a self-reliant activist, but fears rejection and distrusts others. They reject before being rejected, and perhaps most troublesome within the context of divorce, meet the mildest slights or dismissals with polarization and inflammatory responses. The Outcast usually needs a skilled lawyer to prevent disagreement from morphing into a bitter legal battle. On a positive note, the Outcast is persistent, doesn’t much fear mistakes, and can be a strong leader.
Are you afraid to make a mistake or meet a judge? Do you doubt your ability to survive after divorce? Do you stifle yourself or allow distractions to keep you too busy to do what’s necessary? Does every conversation with your spouse make you want to take a dangerous path or just leave everything in the dust?
Become aware of sneaky ways fear stops you in divorce and you’ll be one step closer to closure.
I held my life to the light, studying its pattern and rips and repairs. Determined – if only for my own self-respect – to die wise, clear-sighted. The most awake I’d ever been. ~Tanya Shadrick
What’s your spouse’s FEAR ARCHETYPE™? Is their fear slowing progress in your divorce? It certainly can. Over the last twenty-eight years as a lawyer, I’ve seen hundreds of spouses and attorneys who likely suffer from narcissistic disorder, sociopathy, and possibly, psychopathy. Most of them forced hearings or even trials, but none ever halted the wheels of justice entirely.
The legal system offers many routes across the divorce finish line. If one spouse throws up roadblocks, the other must meet the obstacles with courage and sometimes, concession.
The People Pleaser may need to say “No” and request a court conference, hearing, or trial. The Perfectionist may have to make an offer without having precise records. The Procrastinator and the Excuse Maker may be forced to produce documents. The Outcast and the Pessimist may need to bite a lip and hire a lawyer to be a mouthpiece.
All Fear Archetypes™ must persist, focus, and commit because consistent effort is the key to completion—and can ignite courage.
According to Dr. Maya Shankar, a cognitive scientist, chair of the Social and Behavioral Science Team during the Obama administration, and the first behavioral science adviser to the United Nations:
…when you put in the hard work, it fuels you to make these courageous decisions because they actually feel less courageous, because you think you deserve it, you think that there could be a chance because you have put in the hard work.
In other words, if we accept that sooner or later we will be afraid and work consistently despite our fears, we can make a perilous journey through divorce.
Not sure where to begin? Too scared to do it alone? All Fear Archetypes™ welcome, without judgment.