Caroline called to complain that her husband, Jeremy, had become defensive when she tried to point out something he was doing that she didn't like.
"I was just trying to help," she said.
"No, you weren't," I said. "You were trying to control him."
"No, I wasn't, and I said it nicely too."
"Sorry, kid, but I just don't believe you, on either count." I had the advantage of having witnessed quite a number of interactions between the two of them.
"How do you know? You weren't there. I was there!" She was quite proud of her incontestable statement of fact.
"Actually, dear, you were not there. You are so afraid—all the time—that all you see is what might hurt you. Your fears make you blind—blind to who you are, blind to what you do and say, and blind to others. On many occasions I've heard you describe an incident that I personally witnessed, so I've seen how your fears fatally distort what you see and hear. When you're afraid, you really are not there."
Fear makes us selfish, stupid, and blind. Until we recognize our fears, we can't function in the real world. Instead we inhabit a virtual world—a false, dangerous, and unfulfilling world created by our fears.