We are most Afraid of Others doing to Us what we do to Them


What would you say is the most constant fear which you have in relationships?

It’s not necessarily the greatest fear, the one shouting the loudest in your mind, sometimes it is the quietest one because it knows that a whisper penetrates much further than a shout. It’s a drip drip drip that works its way deep into you and never stops dripping.

Perhaps it’s in your subconscious mind and you sense its presence but aren’t consciously aware of it and how it influences you.

Fear tends to do that.

Why are people afraid of spiders? I don’t mean venomous ones which could actually kill you, but the ones you know can’t kill you, don’t want to kill you (well, maybe they do because you’re about to squash them), and just want to get away from you.

When I say – we are most afraid of others doing to us what we do to them – mostly I mean it in an unconscious way. We don’t mean to do to others what we fear they’ll do to us, but our reason is overpowered by our fear and without realising it we do to them the very thing we would never want done to us. If we caught ourselves in the act, it might horrify us, so we keep ourselves in the dark to sleep at night even though our fear creeps into our dreams.

Some people do it consciously. They do unto others before others do unto them. I know a few people like that who’ve explained it that way. It’s a common practice in business and is often considered being proactive or some other jargon designed to make something shady sound sunny. Some people do it in their personal life too. They are so certain that everyone is exactly like them (only they do it better) that they get the first shot in as a defensive-offensive move. They are paranoid, they’re certain that people are out to get them, so they get at others first. Problem is once they’ve initiate attack, chances are people are going to do to them exactly what they feared. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and each time it fulfills itself it convinces them that they are right to live in fear and behave the way they do.

Had they just shushed their fear and waited, bothered to take some time to gradually get to know the other person, which is a slow process they don’t have the time or patience to do due to being so wrapped up in their fear, they might have discovered that they had nothing to fear.

But fear does not like to be wrong. Telling a fear it is wrong, usually results in the fear being even more certain it is right. And it creates a situation to prove it.

Fear tends to do that.


There are an assortment of fears, anxieties and worries which we bring into our relationships, be they intimate ones, superficial ones, or somewhere between the two.

We worry about this and that. Does the other person find us likeable, attractive, interesting, and so on. Do they want to get to know us better. Do they see who we are or are they seeing who they want us to be. Do they listen to us because they want to hear what we are saying or are they waiting for us to stop talking so they can talk. Are they judging us, counting our wrongs, sins, and flaws, which they’ll then use against us.

What are they thinking about us? How do they feel about us?

If only we knew so we wouldn’t have to worry so much and could relax and just be ourselves instead of a guarded, censored, controlled version. Why won’t other people stop being who they are and be who we want them to be for us so we can be ourselves!

That’s what a friend of mine used to say. Not in those words, but almost. They had convinced themselves that they were a telepathic empath. This belief made them feel less afraid. It was one of those beliefs you can’t challenge because it would cause too much pain to them, they’d experience it as a nuclear bomb devastating their reality. They were certain they knew what everyone was feeling and thinking and it overwhelmed them, they were always complaining of how drained they were around other people and how they could never be themselves as they were too busy being who everyone else wanted them to be. The problem was that others experienced them that way, but they couldn’t see or hear or feel it. Being around this person was exhausting and heavy weather because they dumped their thoughts and emotions onto and into you, then pretended they belonged to you. You did not exist except as an empty vessel to take on their projections. But they thought that’s what other people did to them.

A circle of ever giving pain which can’t be broken. So you just have to step out of it and fulfill another one of their fearful prophecies – they were afraid of pushing people away.


Through our relationships we gradually work through these fears, anxieties and worries. Others help us to figure them out and release their hold over us. The process can be something conscious where we realise that we are working through an issue, or it can be a subtle undercurrent of which we are only vaguely aware. We don’t notice it until we suddenly notice we’ve changed and feel better. Others don’t always know that they are doing this for us either, in fact they usually don’t know. And as relationships flow both ways, we’re doing the same for them and probably don’t know it either.

Wait a minute, you’re thinking (maybe, probably not), I always know when I’m helping someone else work through an issue, in fact I go out of my way to help others even when they don’t ask me for my help, don’t want it and fight me every step of the way. That’s another issue of theirs I’m helping them with.

People who are out to save others from themselves… which ‘themselves’ are they trying to save others from?

Whenever I realise someone is in saviour mode, I tend to do a Houdini. They scare the crap out of me – they’re an effective enema. I realise they mean well and really want to help others, because they have suffered, perhaps more than anyone else in the world throughout history, have completely healed themselves and now that all their problems are solved, they’re bored and need something to do. They want to rid the world of pain, heal all suffering, purge the world of negativity and erase hurt from existence.

Once they’ve healed all the people on the planet and turned us all into Eloi, they will then heal the Earth itself, stop it from quaking, from erupting, from flooding, from feeling the growing pains which created it, from expressing itself, and from doing what it naturally does to keep renewing itself and evolving. They’ll put a halt to the change of seasons because Winter is sad. The weather will be warm and sunny all the time, with rainless rainbows. They’ll force flowers to always be in bloom and never wilt or die, they won’t need to go to seed because there will be no need for new flowers or plants. All the animals must be kind to each other and never hurt other animals in any way. And the universe will stop spinning and moving so that asteroids will never threaten the perfect peace which is now here for all to enjoy.

Of course I’m blowing it into exaggerated proportions. It’s influenced by a TV show I watched last night which was a dramatisation of what happens when Save-the-Planet activists are willing to go to Kill-the-all-the-Inhabitants-on-the-Planet-to-Save-it extremes.

It’s a very human type of solution for fear.


So, what’s mine? My hypocritical oath of sorts… my constant drip dripping fear… I’ve had many of the usual ones, some of which have loosened their hold on me thanks to the healing nature of relationships, in its negative and positive forms.

I try to keep myself aware of the dynamic, it cuts down the amount of time of being stuck in a paradox of fear.

I hate being stuck.

Yet I do trap myself in stuckness.

I am afraid of being misunderstood and the complicated consequences which ensue, it’s connected to my dyslexia, and this causes me to keep quiet instead of telling people what I think.

Thing is when I don’t tell people what I think, they sense it because I think very loudly and it shows on my face and emanates from every pore. Since I’m not saying anything, this leaves a space which gets filled by everything the other person thinks I’m thinking, which is often not what I’m thinking at all but what their fears think I’m thinking… and once someone has decided they know what you’re thinking then a misunderstanding occurs with complicated consequences. And you’ll never be able to convince them that wasn’t what you were thinking because people don’t like being wrong even when they are, and trying to prove that they made an error of judgment solidifies their belief that they are right… with added – and you are wrong, wrong, wrong. And trying to explain makes it worse.


When misunderstandings with complicated consequences happen… I go deathly quiet. And we know where that leads…

And I get very annoyed with people when they don’t tell me what is on their mind!

That’s my hypocritical oath and fear.

Care to share yours?


  1. Are we “merely actors” as Shakespeare said, or do we need masks, as Wilde said? I would have to say that I don’t like it when people aren’t straight, either. Probably my biggest fear, too. Am thinking about this, though… Good question. 🙂


    • I think we’re a little bit of everything. Social media is fascinating because in essence we’re wearing an anonymous mask even if we use our name and face, and we can if we want to play a part, be an actor – but all the parts we play are still emanating from us and who we are, all actors infuse their roles with their own experiences – or we can be ourselves as we are, sometimes we can be ourselves more genuinely online than offline, and sometimes who we are online changes who we are offline because we express parts of ourselves which we may be hesitant to express, and we discover that it’s okay to express that and it ripples into all of our lives offline and online.

      I find exploring quotes is insightful. I particularly like to see which quotes are most popular and then try to figure out why that one has caught on, what’s going on in the collective psyche.

      One of the things I’ve begun to see about our fears is that they are sometimes not a fear at all but a path to something far more interesting and liberating.

      Someone said something to me the other day about me, how they saw me, and for a moment I felt depressed because they didn’t see me at all, they were projecting… that happens a lot to me because of a trait I have… but I think it happens to everyone in relationships. And my first reaction was to get annoyed at my trait, then I thought – but this is part of who I am, so why not just accept it as is. Perhaps the other person needs to project their stuff onto me, perhaps it’s part of who they are. Just accept it. And then I thought – does it matter if people see me as I am? I see me as I am and so that really is more important to me than having others see me because I have to live with myself 24/7. Something like that 🙂


  2. I’ve often heard people relate what they were like years ago and I see progress over time too with people that I work with. Most agree that they were more or less repressing anger and resentments and that in time, they began to see that most of the cause stems from childhood – in time most began to see that they developed ego defenses and offenses – although they were unaware of planning to use these weapons and blocks – they none-the-less discovered in time reasons for their fears – shame is often a first layer block to uncovering automatic (without thinking) haring actions.
    Emotional baggage won’t disappear if its not found out for the cause of bad behaviors.
    Its really best to take it easy if there substantial damage – work on it – but none to rapidly.
    Once we get free of some of the deepest darkest emotional baggage, there is plenty more.
    Keeping at the work of it is not what most people do.
    Filling their lives with the external valuables of a “better life” is usually their choice for MOST people – that’s really going for more repression – thus, the symptoms of “bad” behaviors tend again to resurface in months or years.
    We need “solutions for living” not fixes… its counter culture.
    Solutions are not scripts – not fixes – solutions are personal but always include working on values and to become the best we can be -being willing to make decisions over what we want from life and then doing what is necessary in an orderly, civilized, cultured and dignified manner. To make it short here, I’ll reference this: http://willpower.4mg.com/whatisselfactualisation.html
    Great post today – Thanks!
    ~ Eric


    • Thank you 😀

      I agree – solutions and not fixes!!!

      Thanks for the link, much appreciated.

      And as always thank you for sharing your insight, it’s always wonderful food for thought (my favourite kind of food).


  3. This is blog has such honesty, depth and wisdom in it I am going to get a print out and read it over and over. I have much to learn from it. It takes courage to stick it out through the dark phases in relationship where you have one of those face offs where layers are ripped back and you are seen as both naked and real……the urge to run might be strong…. I love what you kind of imply that there is no end game when everything is shiny and resolved as things are in constant evolution. My ex hated rainy days, any kind of doubt or fear or insecurity as it was a sign that things were too dark and needed to be brighter.. that got quiet tiring and at times I felt confused as maybe it was draining to be with a person who was still grieving and fairly stuck at the time (me).


Comments are closed.