Why Fear Can Be Your Greatest Teacher When It Comes To Love
I'll be honest with you: I'm scared.
I'm scared because I just started dating a man. I'm scared because I really, really like him.
Sure, we are in the baby-stage (or the "honeymoon phase") of dating. But I haven't felt this feeling in a long time. And it feels both amazing … and terrifying.
Why am I scared? Isn't love supposed to be euphoric and comforting all at once? Well, it is those things, too. But love is scary because it requires us to be vulnerable. It's scary because it requires us to open up to the possibility of investing time, energy, emotions (and more) in someone with both the possibility that it might not "work out," and with the possibility that it actually might. Both possibilities are terrifying.
Right now, my ego-mind is up to its old tricks. As I continue to feel more for this person, my mind somehow jumps to defense mechanisms: I'm putting up the caution tape. Despite my desire on some level to open up and be vulnerable, my mind is encouraging me to play it cool: you know, not showing too much emotion or opening up my heart.
It's all fear. I am scared of the outcome of the relationship — it somehow failing, or it actually working and leading to real commitment. My fear is driving me to want to go back to my old shut down ways.
Sometimes, my fear frustrates me. I'm self-aware about it, and yet it persists. After growing so much over the past two years, to see that so much fear still exists surprises me.
Now, though, the difference is that I can see my fear. I can identify it, and I identify it as a tool. I know what to do with it.
Although fear feels like wearing a too-tight turtleneck that you can't seem to get out of, it can be the cornerstone of growth. You see, where fear pops up, or lurks in, more like, lies a chance for you to make a choice: obey the fear or do the opposite.
What I encourage you to do, no matter what, is to listen to your fear. Invite it in like you would a welcome guest. Ask it what it wants. Ask it what it's protecting you from. Ask it why it just won't let go. These insights are invaluable.
Next, make your choice. Are you going to stay in your default zone and obey the fear, or are you going to choose to do the opposite of your default and take the opportunity to grow?
Fear wants you to stay in your comfort zone. And, guess what? There's no growing or changing in the comfort zone. If you like where you are, then, by all means, give into the fear. A comfort zone is, after all, comfortable. But if you're tired of living the same old patterns, use the fear to your advantage!
By using fear as an impetus for change, you can take the power back. In that moment where the creeping voice tells you to hold back or put your guard up, you can choose to do the opposite of your default. Even if it's just letting your guard down a smidgen more than you normally would or allowing yourself to say something that feels just a tad risky for you.
Every slight shift will lead up to a bigger shift. That bigger shift will open you up to the love you deserve because you will be living life as authentically as possible.
Although fear can be so, so uncomfortable, it has also been my greatest teacher in love. So, as it creeps in today, I invite it in. We have a lot to talk about ...