Researchers in psychology have identified six distinct facial expressions which correspond to the six universal emotions. These are happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness, and fear. Some researchers add a seventh emotion, which is contempt. Of these six or seven universal emotions, fear is the most perplexing, because it morphs into so many different forms. The root is fear, but it manifests in emotional experiences (anxiety, depression, worry, to name but a few), or physical symptoms (allergies, skin rashes, organ dysfunction, etc.). Dr. Candace Pert in her book Molecules of Emotion talks about how fear-related neuropeptides are stored indefinitely in the organs, glands, and tissues of the body until the fear is processed and resolved. Then the neuropeptides can be metabolized.
What is Fear?
In his book The Wisdom Codes, Gregg Braden tells us that fears are ruled by the subconscious mind. He also confirms the dictum that 95% of our daily activities are mandated by the subconscious mind. Once handwriting becomes automated, it is stored in the subconscious mind, as are all automated programs – riding a bicycle, driving a car, knitting, habits, behaviors, etc. Past traumas, hurts, fears, needs, beliefs, are all embedded in the meta-programs that are run by the subconscious mind and the autonomic nervous system. These are then expressed outwardly as our personality and in our handwriting.
What is fear? Apart from an unpleasant emotion induced by a perceived threat or danger, fear produces a narrowed mental focus and a physiology of tension and attention. Fear keeps us safe, but it can also jeopardize our normal functioning within society. Robin Sharma so eloquently says that “The fears we don’t face become our limits.” So, let’s take a look at some of these fears and how they manifest in our handwriting. Fears limit us and it’s time that we start to understand them so that we may eliminate them altogether.
Fear is Energy
Fear is an illusion. Fear does not exist. The most important thing about fear is to realize that all fear is, is energy. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith says that fear is praying for what you don’t want emotionally. He goes on to say that fear can be compared to paying interest on money that you have not yet borrowed, or that it is praying in reverse – praying for what you don’t want to happen on an emotional level. By being focused on what you don’t want to occur, you are actually emotionally rehearsing the worst-case scenario and drawing that scenario to you.
No Negatives for the Brain
Let’s pause a moment and analyze this. The brain cannot see a negative. If I say: “Don’t fall!”, what is the first image that comes to mind? Yourself or someone else falling. “Don’t smoke!” conjures up images of you or someone else smoking. The brain cannot not see a negative. Let me repeat: the brain cannot not see me falling or not see me smoking when it hears the command “fall” or “smoke”. A better command will be “Sidestep the hole!” or “Hang on to the branch!” or “Throw away those cigarettes!” where the brain sees exactly what it should do (an action followed by a noun). Let’s continue analyzing this: Dr. Beckwith also says that the law of the universe does not care what you want, it only cares about what you’re interested in or what you’re focused on. Therefore, if I’m focused on a fear, what will I be drawing more of into my life? Yes, I’ll be drawing more situations, events, and people pertaining to that fear into my life. Fears belonging to actual survival in the moment are life-sustaining, valid, and should be acted upon accordingly. The rest are limiting beliefs that keep us in a fixed deteriorating mindset. We are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned.
Remember that I said before that fear is just an energy? That said, the reality is that fear is a barrier created by the ego to keep you safe. If the ego sees that you are moving into the realm of the unknown, it creates fear (an energy) to keep you in the known, inside your box, where it feels comfortable. Fear, or the energy of fear, can be converted into excitement and enthusiasm when you move towards a goal or dream, because fear and excitement are opposite ends of the same emotional energy. The reason for this is because both fear and excitement trigger the same neurochemical, namely norepinephrine (noradrenaline) making them neurobiologically the same. The “worst-case scenario” is at the opposite end of the “best-case scenario” on the same spectrum of emotional energy.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less – Marie Curie
What are Defense Mechanisms?
By that same token, let’s also look at defense mechanisms. What are defense mechanisms? Defense mechanisms are unconscious, psychological contrivances that reduce anxiety and fear around unacceptable or potentially harmful catalysts. Defensive attitudes are deliberate, which result in unintentional deception and evasion. Defense mechanisms are coping strategies and are more benign forms of fears.
The good thing is that these embedded fears and defense mechanisms can be seen in the handwriting, and therefore, we can do something about them. My mentor and master graphologist, Bart A. Baggett of Handwriting University International, identified eleven fears within the graphological personality trait directory and I am reproducing them here.
So, whip out a pen and piece of paper, and write down a paragraph or two about which defense mechanisms or fears you think you are ruled by. Then compare your strokes to the following examples. Be brutally honest with yourself, and if you see a fear-based trait that you would like to change, contact me or your preferred graphotherapist to assist you with these changes.
What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears – Alice Walker
Notes on Graphotherapy
Graphotherapy gives us the ability to modify strokes in our handwriting in order to change personality traits that don’t serve us well. Did you know that graphotherapy also gives us the opportunity to influence the brain by expanding concentration skills, clearing up working memory space for higher cognitive functions, and stimulate better communication between the two hemispheres of the brain? It is common knowledge that perfect practice makes perfect and graphotherapy gives us the opportunity to consciously practice that perfect stroke until it becomes automatic, is then stored in the subconscious, and subsequently frees up valuable space in working memory. Being willing is not enough; we must do until the execution of the stroke is automatic. That which has been automated does not require space in working memory, because we don’t have to think about.
Human behavior is driven by the unconscious mind, making it the largest component in determining personality and personality traits. The conscious mind does not have direct access to the unconscious mind. So, when we want to change certain behaviors and/or personality traits on a conscious level, we encounter absolute resistance from the unconscious, as the conscious has no direct access. By changing specific stokes in the handwriting and practicing it perfectly until the execution of the stroke becomes automatic, the writer is able to affect his/her unconscious personality directly.
Also read my article, “Graphotherapy …. Braintherapy”
Notes on Terminology
Writer(s): Writer(s) refers to the person who has the specific stroke being discussed in his/her handwriting.
He (His/Him): A neutral reference to the writer who could be either male or female.
Graphotherapy: Undesireable traits as identified by a graphologist which are corrected through specific exercises given by a graphotherapist.
Graphotherapist: The trained Graphologist who can identify and correct undesirable traits using specific handwriting stroke exercises.
The stroke: The handwriting stroke that can be identified by the graphologist as a fear or defense mechanism.
The Fear of Being Wrong (Fear and Defense Mechanism)
Stubbornness is the fear of being wrong and the need to save face. Stubborn people have a tenacious, resolute attachment to their own ideas and opinions, and will resist all facts to the contrary in order to save face. These writers abhor anyone disagreeing with them, because to them it means that one disagrees with who they are. Disagreement is very personal for this writer. Stubborn people have a resistance to change, especially if said change is moderated by an outside force. These writers are closed-minded and inflexible. Stubbornness is a defense mechanism, because these writers fear criticism, being embarrassed, losing control, and being controlled by outside forces. This writer tends to stand in the way of his own progress by throwing up an automated resistance which discourages people who are actually on his side. This writer’s first reaction is always a resounding “NO!” to any new idea it comes up against. The stubborn person has less self-compassion and tends to be more critical of the self when making a mistake, hence the defense strategy against the perceived criticism. Note that stubbornness is not a fear of change, merely a resistance. Stubbornness will be exacerbated if the Fear of Change stroke (see below) is also present.
Note: Do not confuse stubbornness with persistence. Someone who consistently hammers away at a project or goal does so persistently, not stubbornly, unless said person refuses to adjust when things obviously are not working out. One could say that persistence is the positive side of the coin and stubbornness the negative side.
The Stubbornness Stroke
Revealed by the letters ‘t’, ‘d’ and sometimes ‘h’, ‘l’, and ‘i’, where the stems are shaped like a tepee or an upside down letter “V”. It is more difficult to push someone over who stands with his feet apart or braced. The wider the stroke, the more this person is braced to his own ideas.
Fear of Failure and Change
This person fears failure and fears change, therefore sets low-risk goals which are attainable and based on past successes. Low self-esteem causes the writer to stick to what is familiar, no matter whether the situation is good or bad, positive or negative. He remains in bad situations far too long, identifies himself with bad situations, and turns good situations into bad situations. He is rarely successful in his own eyes, and will reject all compliments. This writer finds imperfections in himself, has low self-compassion, self-punishes, disengages from his goals, and feels threatened in most situations. He prefers familiar choices, always plays it safe, and cannot come up with game-changing ideas. He craves security and loves the consistency of a daily routine. He equates the lack of change with stability. He feels discomfort when he has to shy away from his familiar daily routine. He does not like surprises.
Does your t-bar (horizontal stroke) fluctuate in height where it crosses the t-stem (vertical stroke)? This is what Bart Baggett says: “If you find that half of your “t-bars” are crossed at the bottom and the other half at the top, this means that your self-image fluctuates with what you’re doing. For instance, you might have a lot of confidence in certain areas, your job, but then personally you’ve got insecurities to deal with.”
The Low Self-Esteem Stroke
Shown by the ‘t’-bar crossed very low on the ‘t’-stem.
Fear of Public Disapproval/Looking Stupid or Less Than/What Others Think (Fear and Defense Mechanism)
This writer has Vanity strokes in his writing and will try to save face at all costs, because he fears public disapproval or looking stupid. This writer is projecting an image, trying to control what others think of him, as opposed to wanting approval from others (which is the looped letter ‘d’ – Sensitive to Criticism). He aspires to please an authority figure, often the father figure. This writer is cocky, arrogant, condescending, pretentious, self-inflated, thinks he’s always right, often a fool, and will oversell his abilities. He will complicate even trivial matters, throw around jargon, name-drop, and waste time on theorizing ideas that have little basis in reality. Sheila Lowe says, “… the longer he spends on thinking, the less time there is to act.” This writer wants all the recognition without putting in much effort. Failures are blamed on others and successes are all his doing (no credit will be given to anyone else in acknowledgment of their contribution). He does care what people think of him, but only in a self-centered image-oriented way. It is a major blow to the pride of this writer to ask for help. That would be an admittance to the fact that he knows less than what he wants others to believe he does.
The Vanity Stroke
Illustrated by letters with a vertical stem-stroke that is more than double the length of most other middle zone letters.
Fear of Intimacy
This writer fears intimacy because he fears that trusting someone will lead him to being hurt. The anti-social person does not trust anyone and rarely lets people get close enough to really know him. He fears getting hurt emotionally and it usually appears when someone suffered a difficult relationship breakup. This is a roadblock to intimacy.
The Anti-Social Stroke
Shown when the lower loops of the letters ‘y’, ‘g’, and sometimes ‘j’ are retraced completely.
Fear and love never eat from the same plate – Spanish proverb
Fear of Loss of Love
This person fears the loss of someone he loves. This writer can be very possessive, and has difficulty in letting things go. He cannot allow freedom for those he loves, therefore he tries to control them. This trait could be a spur to achieve things as the writer tends to be competitive. Jealously is the fear of not being loved by one, specific person, and is increased if other fears are also present, such as the fears of failure and losing control.
The Jealousy Stroke
A tight beginning loop that is small and completely closed. It must make a completely closed circle.
Fear of Losing Control
This writer feels constant anxiety because he feels as if he has no control, e.g. the backseat driver. In the extreme, this fear is rooted in being domineering. The domineering person tends to fight for control. He takes charge, insisting that people follow him. The downward sloping ‘t’-bar with a sharp dagger-like ending, signifies sarcasm, whining, griping, and possible cruelness when he doesn’t get his way. This writer is not a natural leader, because he equates leading to control and power. Domineering signifies that the writer is overbearing, dictatorial or authoritarian, whereas dominant (the other side of the coin) means ruling.
The Domineering Stroke
‘T’-bar slanting downwards to the right, with a sharp ending.
He who fears to suffer, suffers from fear – Traditional proverb
Fear of Making a Mistake
This writer spends time putting everything in its place and reviews work constantly trying to make it precise as he fears making mistakes. The perfectionist has to be in control of each situation. This writer wastes a lot of time on the details and sees the trees, not the forest.
The Perfectionist Stroke
The baseline will be straight and even.
Fear of Ridicule/Looking Foolish/Rejection
This writer has a fear of being ridiculed, rejected, or looking bad, and tends to worry what others might think, especially when around strangers. This is the most prevalent fear. According to Bart Baggett, it is taught to children by their parents (usually the mother) and is a form of social conditioning: “Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident”. This fear hampers creativity and extroversion. This fear is also a distraction, because the writer focuses more on what others may think of him than on accomplishing the task at hand. This indicates a need for approval from others. This writer fears being ridiculed in the future, and therefore obsesses in the present moment by taking measures to prevent it. This writer is shy around strangers and is usually not a good sales person. The key is to find the balance between the sense of self-awareness and the sense of self-importance. This trait has different characteristics from the trait “Fear of Criticism/Disapproval”, and should not be confused.
The Self-Conscious Stroke
Shown by the increasing height of the humps on the letters ‘m’ and ‘n’, also when the second ‘L’ is higher than the first in a double ‘LL’ word (e.g. mallet). Self-conscious individuals also tend to start their letters small at the beginning of a word and then gradually increase the size towards the end.
Fear of Criticism/Disapproval
This writer seeks approval constantly, because he is irrational in his assessment of criticism. He is always explaining his actions. The bigger the loop, the more the writer will believe that the world is against him, and the more vulnerable he is to both criticism and flattery. This results in strained relationships, because everyone around this writer has to walk on eggshells. Sooner or later something that you said will be taken up too personally by this writer, and he will be deeply hurt. The Fear of Criticism is intensified if the writing is executed with a lot of pen-pressure. This trait has different characteristics from the trait “Self-Conscious (Fear of Ridicule/Rejection)”, and should not be confused with that trait.
The Sensitive to Criticism Stroke
Shown by the looped stem of the lower case letters ‘d’ and ‘t’. The bigger the loop, the more painful criticism is felt. If the loop is really inflated, this person will imagine criticism. The ‘d’-loop relates to the personal self and the ‘t’-loop relates to sensitiveness to ideas or philosophies.
Fear of Success
The fear of success is the stroke of self-sabotage. The fear of success creates failure by circumstance. The writer does not complete projects or causes the projects to fail, directly or indirectly. A person with this failure complex will expect sympathy every time things don’t work out as planned. Often a feeling of dejection occurs near success, therefore, this writer gets very close to success, then fails. The fear of success is rooted in receiving positive reinforcement for negative outcomes. For instance, every time a child fails at something, he receives more attention and affection than when he triumphs. Therefore, the child quickly learns that failing is more lucrative, because he has all Mom & Dad’s attention and the assistance of everyone else. He will also attract people to him that will help him to fail when it counts, like being jilted at the altar, or missing that final championship shot, or not making it on time to that important meeting or interview, etc. This is failure by circumstance. This way he can avoid taking responsibility for the failures. The pleasure centers of the brain are more rewarded with the pleasurable attention, connection, comfort, and even love the writer receives when he fails. He fears success, not failure – failure is the vehicle that gets him attention!
The Fear of Success Stroke
Shown by a down-turned loop in the letters “y, g, and j” that does NOT cross the baseline, but crosses lower down the stem and then turns down towards the bottom of the page. The closer the upstroke crossing comes to the baseline, the closer the writer will come to success, and then turn away.
Fear of Authenticity
This writer will not tell the truth by default in order to protect his fragile ego. He would prefer to say the opposite of what he believes, or did, or said, just in case the other person believes, or requires, or expects a different outcome. He is defensive and communicates indirectly or evasively. This writer’s ego is so fragile that he cannot dare to be authentically himself and risk being different from someone else. The bigger the loops, the more his imagination runs wild and the more secrets he keeps: the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. This writer is keeping secrets from others and in the process deceives himself as well. This fear of being authentic is a defense system rooted in childhood, which is still affecting the writer as an adult.
The Prevarication Stroke
Shown by a combination of loops in the left and right side of the lower case letters ‘a’ and ‘o’. Huge inner loops that cross signify a person that lies pathologically.
Researchers at Harvard University did a study to answer the question whether mindfulness meditation (20 minutes) or cognitive reframing (simply put, the context around an idea) was better at transmuting fear to excitement. Participants in the cognitive reframing group had to think about and feel their fear or anxiety and then repeat, “I am excited!” at least three times. By cognitively reframing their fear as excitement, this group outperformed the meditation group in transmuting their fear. If this doesn’t work, ask yourself if you have enough information about the situation causing your fear or anxiety.
Fear is not always a bad thing. Fear keeps us safe. However, it is what we choose to do with the particular fear that makes the difference. Top performers will use their fear as a compass, because if you face your fear, you pay attention, and the focus you gain in that process is free. Remember that the law of the universe is only interested in that which the brain is focused on. Lean into what scares you, take the risk of transmuting that fear into excitement. It’s the same emotion.
Emotions are behavioral signals. Feeling fear is just your body warning you to behave differently. If you are not going to behave differently, the fear has no purpose. Reframe the fear into excitement. If this doesn’t work, try to understand the fear by gathering information about it. Then change the behavior. Do you have low self-esteem and fear change? You can change that with intention and by doing the graphotherapy exercises prescribed by your graphotherapist. Once the new way of writing becomes automatic, you will be amazed at the newly changed you!
Success Secrets of the Rich and Happy: How to Design Your Life with Financial and Emotional Abundance by Bart A. Baggett
11 Big Fears Shown in Handwriting Analysis
The Secrets to Making Love Happen!: Mastering Your Relationships Using Handwriting Analysis & NLP! By Bart Baggett
Handwriting Analyst’s Companion: Comprehensive Explanations and Illustrations for (Almost) All Handwriting Indicators Volumes 1 to 5 by Erika M. Karohs, Ph.D. & Ed.D.
Meditations for Life’s Challenges by Michael Bernard Beckwith, Day 2 – Fear & Anxiety
Universal Emotions by The Paul Ekman Group
What Makes a Person Stubborn? By Hanan Parvez
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis by Sheila R. Lowe
Why Your Mind is Wired for Self-Sabotage by Marisa Peer
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The Habit of Ferocity: Grit to Master Fear by Steven Kotler, MindValley Quest Day 29