This is very helpful information for the serious student of themselves and their own relationships.
Appendix B from the book The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley
Identify Your Core Fear
1. Identify the Conflict: Identity a recent conflict, argument, or negative situation with your spouse, friend, child, neighbor, coworker, etc.—something that really “pushed your buttons”, or upset you. Think about how you were feeling and how you wished the person would not say or do the things that upset you.
2. Identify your Feelings: How did this conflict or situation make you feel? Check all that apply—but star the most important feelings:
___unsure ___uncomfortable ___frightened
___apathetic ___confused ___anxious
___puzzled ___worried ___horrified
___upset ___disgusted ___disturbed
___sullen ___resentful ___furious
___hurt ___fed up
___torn up ___guilty
___shamed ___embarrassed ___other
3. Identify Your Fear: How did this conflict make you feel about yourself? What did the conflict “say” about you and your feelings? Check all that apply, but star the most important feelings.
___rejected The other person doesn’t want me or need me. I am not necessary in this relationship; I feel unwanted.
___abandoned The other person will ultimately leave me; I will be left alone to care for myself, the other person won’t be committed to me for life.
___disconnected We will become emotionally detached or separated; I will feel cut off from the other person.
___like a failure I am not successful at being a husband/wife, friend, parent, coworker; I will not perform correctly; I will not live up to expectations, I am not good enough.
___helpless I cannot do anything to change the other person or my situation; I do not possess the power, resources, capacity, or ability to get what I want; I will feel controlled by the other person.
___defective Something is wrong with me; I’m the problem.
___inadequate I am not capable; I am incompetent.
___inferior Everyone else is better than I am; I am less valuable or important than others.
___invalidated Who I am, what I think, what I do, or how I feel is not valued.
___unloved The other person doesn’t care about me; my relationship lacks warm attachment, admiration, enthusiasm, or devotion.
___dissatisfied I will not experience satisfaction in the relationship. I will not feel joy or excitement about the relationship.
___cheated The other person will take advantage of me or will withhold something I need; I won’t get what I want.
___worthless I am useless; I have not value to the other person.
___unaccepted I am never able to meet the other person’s expectations; I am not good enough.
___judged I am always being unfairly judged; the other person forms faulty or negative opinions about me; I am always being evaluated; the other person does not approved of me.
___humiliated The relationship is extremely destructive to my self-respect or dignity.
___ignored The other person will not pay attention to me; I feel neglected.
___insignificant I am irrelevant in the relationship; the other person does not see me as an important part of our relationship.
1. Identify Your Reactions: What do you do when you feel (__insert the most importabt feeling from question # 3)? How do you react when you feel that way? Identify your common verbal or physical reactions to deal with that feeling. Check all that apply, but star the most important reactions.
___withdrawal you avoid others or alienate yourself without resolution; you sulk or use the silent treatment.
___escalation emotions spiral out of control; you argue, raise your voice, fly into a rage.
___try harder you try to do more to earn others’ love and care.
___negative beliefs you believe the other person is far worse than is really the case; you see the other person in a negative light or attribute negative motives to him or her.
___blaming you place responsibility on others, not accepting fault; you’re convinced the problem is the other person’s fault.
___exaggeration you make overstatements or enlarge your words beyond bound or the truth.
___tantrums you have fits of bad temper.
___denial you refuse to admit the truth or reality.
___invalidation you devalue the other person; you do not appreciate what he or she feels or thinks or does.
___defensiveness instead of listening, you defend yourself by providing an explanation.
___clinginess you develop a strong emotional attachment or dependence on the other person.
___passive-aggressive you display negative emotions, resentment, and aggression in passive ways, such as procrastination and stubbornness.
___caretaking you become responsible for the other person by giving physical or emotional care and support to the point you are doing everything for the other person, who does nothing to care for himself or herself.
___acting out you engage in negative behaviors, such as drug or alcohol abuse, extramarital affairs, excessive shopping or spending or overeating.
___fix-it mode you focus almost exclusively on what is needed to solve the problem.
___complaining you express unhappiness or make accusations, you criticize, creating a list of the other person’s faults
___aggression or abuse you become verbally or physically aggressive, possible abusive.
___manipulation you control the other person for your own advantage, you try to get him or her to do what you want.
___anger and rage you display strong feelings of displeasure or violent and uncontrolled emotions
___catastrophize you use dramatic exaggerated expressions to depict that the relationship is in danger or that it has failed.
___numbing out you become devoid of emotions, or you have no regard for others’ needs or troubles.
___humor you use humor as a way of not dealing with the issue at hand.
___sarcasm you use negative humor, hurtful words, belittling comments, cutting remarks or demeaning statements.
___minimization you assert that the other person is overreacting to an issue; you intentionally underestimate, downplay, or soft-pedal the issue.
___rationalization you attempt to make your actions seem reasonable; you try to attribute your behavior to credible motives; you try to provide believable but untrue reasons for your conduct.
___indifference you are cold and show no concern.
___abdication you give away responsibilities.
___self-abandonment you run yourself down; you neglect yourself.
2. Look at the items you starred in response to question 3. List the three or four main feelings. These are you core fears.
Core fear #1__________________________________________________
Core fear #2__________________________________________________
Core fear #3__________________________________________________
Remember that most core fears are related to two main primary fears:
1. the fear of being controlled (losing influence or power over others).
2. the fear of being disconnected (separation from people and being alone)
More men fear losing power or being controlled, and more women fear being disconnected from relationships with others.
3. Look at the items you starred in response to question 4. List your three or four main reactions when someone pushes your core fear button.
Your responses to these exercises should help you understand your part of the Fear Dance: your core fear button and your reaction. Remember that it’s very common for your reactions to push the core fear button of the other person in the conflict. If the other person can figure out his/her core fears and reactions, you will see clearly the unique Fear Dance the two of you are doing. But even if the other person isn’t able to be involved in the process of discovering his/her part of the /fear Dance, you can take steps to stop the dance. (See chapters 4-8)