Fear as Lack (of the unnecessary)

Last time, I took a bit of a twist on our subject and looked at fear as a belief in lack. Today, I want to continue with that basic idea, but shift our focus to a new arena.

The type of fear-as-belief-in-lack I want to discuss today is peculiar because it actually relates to things we are much better off not possessing in the first place. I am talking about the kinds of personal characteristics, attitudes, or beliefs we travel lighter – and much more healthily – without.


A few years back a surgeon scheduled an appointment with me. Although he was excellent at his craft, he had begun experiencing something that he had not felt since the days of his surgical residency.

He had begun having a moderate sensation of anxiety every time he went to the OR. This progressed until he had a hard time going to sleep at night due to a dread of the next day’s surgeries.

The surgeon’s case is an interesting one. It shows us that not all the lacks we fear experiencing are things we should desire to possess in the first place.

What we discovered is that over time, he had developed a fear that he would encounter a lack of… perfection.


[su_pullquote]It’s ironic that we can have a fear of running out of something we’re better off traveling without in the first place.[/su_pullquote]













He heard a story from a fellow surgeon of something that had gone wrong in an operation. For some reason, that story stuck in my client’s mind. He found himself ruminating on it as he went through the day. Before long, he began fearing that something would go wrong in one of his surgeries, that a mistake would be made, that he would then look bad in front of the OR staff.


As we discussed this, he saw the error himself before I even had to speak to it. Truth is, things would occasionally go wrong, he would make mistakes… and his colleagues would observe it. Hopefully, none of these mistakes would be major or result in harm to the patient… but there would be mistakes and errors, occasionally.

The doctor saw that his growing fear was rising out of a lack – of perfection. He chuckled and said to me, “Wow. Surgery is enough pressure. I sure don’t need to add the weight of perfectionism to my back!”


As the surgeon realized, perfectionism is an example of something we definitely don’t need. We only add to the pressure of that (as well as the irrational value being lent it) when we treat perfectionism as a quality – and then fear that there will be a lack of that perfectionism when needed.


What are some other characteristics that fit into this category – the category of things we’re better off without, but paradoxically fear we’ll have a lack of?


Well, keeping up with the proverbial Joneses is one, isn’t it.


[su_button url=”https://www.growthresourcesonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Keeping-up-with-joneses.jpg” target=”blank” size=”5″]Chasing the Joneses[/su_button]


The desire to accomplish what you can with your life is healthy. Being driven to do this to impress others with your social status is not only a waste of time, it can lead to a fear of what it will mean if you fail to achieve the desired status. I have known divorces to occur over this, when this process leads to financial problems.


If you relate this concept to your own life, I bet it will be easy for you to spot the connection between fear – and the belief that you will not have enough of this or that commodity when needed.

You may even find that you sometimes fear that you will experience a lack of something that, well, you don’t really need to begin with – like perfectionism.



Dr Michael Ruth, Growth Resources, Personal Growth