Choose Love over Fear
The more time I spend in this life, the more strongly I believe fear is not often helpful. The purpose of fear — pounding heart, outpouring of adrenaline, and burst of energy — is to get us away from that tiger, fast! But if there is no tiger — if we have to stay in the room with the thing causing the fear - all that acceleration and energy turns against us. When we exist in a state of fear, we cannot concentrate, analyze and make good choices, our digestion is compromised, we can’t sleep, or connect with others. Our feelings are dampened, and we have trouble remembering what matters.
As I sit with people who are struggling with decisions, or trying to resolve a conflict, I often find myself asking “If you were not afraid, what would you do (want/think/feel).” I find this very freeing, and it sometimes helps people give themselves permission to think about things in a different way.
There is much to be afraid of these days: the acceleration of terrorism around the world, the changes in climate, economic instability, political unrest. Not to mention dangers closer to home — infidelity, illness, job loss, disapproval or displeasure from those close to us. And yet fear itself is of no help in dealing with these dangers. None of these are "tiger situations;" in all of them, we benefit from quiet intelligence.
So what can you do? Stay calm. Try to view the other person with compassion. Be kind, first and foremost to yourself, and from there to others. It helps to keep remembering what really matters, and trying to keep that list short and smart. What exactly does being right do for you? As opposed, for example, to being generous.
We are coming up on the new year, and the obligatory resolutions are floating around — lose ten pounds, exercise regularly, floss, don’t yell at the kids. All of these are worthwhile, but perhaps there is a different kind of resolution that would be useful too. For myself, I am resolved to be more aware of when I am being influenced by fear, and to step away from that. I would rather be guided by love than fear. I believe love is stronger.