If I were to ask you what the opposite of love is, you would probably respond that it’s hate. Or maybe indifference. At least that’s what I have always thought, until someone suggested to me that the opposite of love is actually fear.
This struck a chord with me, as often I’ve felt that different insecurities and fears have ruled many of my decisions.
His argument was that love is something that propels us to act whereas fear immobilizes us. I definitely could see this to be true as many of the times I haven’t done things, it’s been out of fear.
I’m not going to go dance- I’m scared of looking like an idiot.
I’m not going to compliment that person – I’m scared they’ll think I’m weird
I’m not going to request PTO – I’m scared my boss will say no
I’m not going to publish that post – I’m scared people won’t like it
I’m not going to share my view on that topic – I’m scared to be contradicted
The list goes on.
And the really sad thing is, I don’t think we can be fearful and love at the same time. Or at least, it is probably really hard.
You can’t love someone if you’re scared of losing them. You can’t love yourself if you’re worried you’re not enough.
Fear will always be there, it’s part of our miraculous self-preservation system. Fear has kept us alive for a long time and still does today (there’s a reason you don’t get too close to edges of cliffs or drive with your eyes closed). However, as much as our brain and mechanisms play a key role in our survival, we also have to understand the ways in which they can work against us. Our minds can be an incredibly powerful tool or highly dangerous weapon.
There are a lot of fears that cross our mind that we accept as truth, when often they are highly illogical or at least blown out of proportion. Will everyone really think you’re an idiot if you’re not a good dancer? Probably not. They probably won’t think about you at all. And if they do happen to think that, will that hurt you at all? I don’t think anyone has gotten yelled at or beaten up for being a dorky dancer.
Of course there are more serious fears, like the fear of being unworthy of love, or the fear of being hurt, or the fear of failure. These fears tend to run deep and can easily sneak into our subconscious and become something we accept as real without even realizing it. But even if we are not aware of it, these fears affect our decisions too. Because they are opposite forces, fears prevent us from fully loving ourselves and others, and so we act in a way that reflects our fears instead of truth.
So what are we supposed to do about fears we may not even know exist?
The first part is definitely developing awareness for these fears. Next time you find yourself holding back from doing something you kind of want to do, think about why you’re doing so. Is it because it really isn’t a good idea (for example, taking a sip of what you know is boiling hot coffee that will burn you)? Or is it because of a less-than-logical fear (for example, fear that someone will think less of you)?
We all make mistakes, that is inevitable. And I think I’d rather make a mistake of trying something that doesn’t work out than the mistake of never trying and missing out on a lesson learned and experience gained.
Maybe this week you’ll consider doing something you know you’re scared of doing. For example, trying out a kickboxing class or a challenging recipe (at the risk of having to order pizza at 9pm on a Wednesday night). Maybe even asking for a raise or some time off this summer (just don’t tell your boss I told you to).
Courage: the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. MAYA ANGELOU
Here’s to living a little dangerously this week.
PS: Pic is from a trip to NC this weekend, we went on a morning hike that was wayyy too early but so worth it.