Most people believe that love is the strongest emotion that a human can possess, and maybe that is true. But fear definitely gives it a run for its money. Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time with a small group of people and I have come to appreciate how complex us humans are. I have witnessed ways in which we are different, ways that we are all the same and wondered why we do the things that we do. One thing that I have noticed is how often we act from a place of fear.
You don’t have to be Einstein to know that fear holds us back from so many amazing things in life. It stops you from traveling, from quitting that job that you hate, from taking that wave, from jumping out of a plane, from going to your first yoga class, from falling in love. But I think that most people don’t realise how often fear changes the way we interact with other people, or how it affects our reactions and behaviour. Then of course there is the way that fear affects how others treat us. When we are afraid, we feel vulnerable and we don’t like to feel vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable is scary. So we try to protect ourselves.
The thing that we fear of course differs with each person. Some fear failure or abandonment. Some fear commitment. Others are afraid of being hurt. Working in a surf camp I also see a lot of people with a fear of the ocean. Or maybe it is a fear of giving up control that they are more afraid of. But most of us fear something, normally many things.
This brings us back to that concept of expectations. We expect others to treat us the way we would treat them or to react in a way that we would react. But the truth is that people are so complex and act the way they do for so many reasons. One big reason is fear.
Have you ever not said what you really wanted to say for fear of being rejected, embarrassed or hurt? Have you attached yourself to someone and developed insecurities out of fear of losing them? Have you pushed good people away because you were afraid of commitment? Have you stayed in a bad relationship because you were afraid of being alone? Fear does crazy things to us because the bottom line is that we want to protect ourselves. The paradox of that is we often end up causing ourselves so much more pain by trying to protect ourselves. Go figure.
It is like Osho says:
“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.”
Is it really that simple? It definitely can be, but it takes practice and patience (like all good things in life). Before you act (or react) reflect on whether you are acting from a space of fear or whether you can allow yourself to be vulnerable and stay true to what your heart wants. At the same time, try to apply this to the people around you. Spend time understanding others and what they are afraid of so that you can acknowledge when it is fear that made them say that thing or act that way. It is so much easier to forgive someone or show them compassion when you can understand their fears and accept them. We are all so vulnerable and just want to love and be loved in return.
Why bother? What is to gain from all of this? Freedom! Freedom from the chains of fear that keep us prisoner and stop us from tasting the sweet stuff that life has to offer... Love. Adventure. Bliss.