Fear Thesaurus Entry: Being Pitied

Debilitating fears are a problem for everyone, an unfortunate part of the human experience. Whether they’re a result of learned behavior as a child, are related to a mental health condition, or stem from a past wounding event, these fears influence a character’s behaviors, habits, beliefs, and personality traits. The compulsion to avoid what they fear will drive characters away from certain people, events, and situations and hold them back in life. 

In your story, this primary fear (or group of fears) will constantly challenge the goal the character is pursuing, tempting them to retreat, settle, and give up on what they want most. Because this fear must be addressed for them to achieve success, balance, and fulfillment, it plays a pivotal part in both character arc and the overall story.

This thesaurus explores the various fears that might be plaguing your character. Use it to understand and utilize fears to fully develop your characters and steer them through their story arc. Please note that this isn’t a self-diagnosis tool. Fears are common in the real world, and while we may at times share similar tendencies as characters, the entry below is for fiction writing purposes only.

Fear of Being Pitied

Pity almost always comes from a good place, from people who care and only want to help. But some people don’t want pity or sympathy for others because it makes them feel weak or inferior. When pity is accompanied by patronization, superiority, or passive-aggressiveness, it can cause the recipient to repel anyone’s attempt to show concern for them.

What It Looks Like
A strong work ethic
Rejecting charity
The character taking care of themselves when things are rough
Stashing food, money, and resources to prepare for hard times
Being highly adaptable
Downplaying negative life events so others won’t think they’re so bad
Brushing off the concerns of others
Becoming defensive when others express pity
Questioning shows of love or concern from others
Avoiding churches, soup kitchens, or other places typically associated with charity or sympathy
Overcompensating to show off their physical, emotional, or spiritual strength
Hiding negative emotions
Refusing to get professional help (in the form of counseling, food stamps, etc.)
Avoiding places where pity or charity are offered (church, support groups, etc.)
Quitting activities they enjoy if they start to perform poorly
Working very hard to avoid having to accept help from others
Having high expectations for themselves and others

Common Internal Struggles
The character believing they’re somehow inferior to or worth less than others
Wanting to be considered equal with others but secretly resenting those who have an easy life
Wanting to help others in need but not wanting to show pity
The character feeling guilty for their feelings about their unhappy life circumstances because they know others are even worse off
The character wanting desperately to prove themselves
Being afraid to show vulnerability to others
Fearing that others will find out about the character’s difficult circumstance

Flaws That May Emerge
Defensive, Dishonest, Grumpy, Judgmental, Perfectionist, Resentful, Uncooperative, Ungrateful

Hindrances and Disruptions to the Character’s Life
Not getting the help they need because they never ask
Relationships remaining somewhat surface because of the character’s difficulty opening up about their problems
The character being overworked or resorting to desperate measures to care for themselves
Not being able to cry or express anger around others
Having to keep certain aspects of their life secret
Sustaining a serious injury or developing an illness and having no support system

Scenarios That Might Awaken This Fear
Being thrust into an unfortunate situation (homelessness, bankruptcy, a terminal illness, etc.) 
Being offered support from well-intentioned friends or family members
Dealing with an overbearing caregiver
Making an embarrassing mistake in public
Being targeted for being weaker or less than everyone else
A situation where the character is expected to be vulnerable


Source: writershelpingwriters.net

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