A year ago, a woman who I had just met told me,
"Every decision is the same to me. Either I choose love or I choose fear."
This totally blew me away. It was so simple and so profound. (My favorite kind of truth.)
Yes, in even our most complex, nuanced decisions, it’s possible to trace motivations back to either fear or love. And fear is such a powerful force that affects how we live even when we’re not fully conscious of it. Recognizing the power it has, I started to wonder, what does my fear want? Here are some thoughts that came from asking that question:
My fear wants me to stay at home, somewhere safe and warm. It wants me to be around people who are like-minded, who share my values, and who have already decided they like me. My fear doesn't like when I take risks, or when I'm too different from everyone else. It wants me to keep perfecting myself until no one could find fault with me. (And so that is a lifelong pursuit and a huge trap.)
My fear wants to protect me. But the protection it offers is limited; it only knows certain kinds of danger. Things like failure, being judged, making mistakes, upsetting people, and so on. It doesn't know about the pain of living a life that I didn't choose for myself, but was gently nudged or forcefully pushed into by invisible forces that shape all of our lives more than we remember to notice. My fear can't protect me from that, nor can it protect me from the passage of time, and that at the inevitable end of my life I am responsible for whatever I didn't let myself give to the world. My fear wants to protect me from getting hurt, but it can’t, and I actually don't need it to.
It took me a while to see my own courage, but now I do. (Excuse me while I humble brag for a bit.) All things considered, I'm actually a pretty courageous person. And actually, it’s thanks to this very fear. As I keep pushing the edges of what I dare to do and how I dare to live, I get to practice being brave all the time. And maybe this is how I choose love over and over again: by facing my fear, acknowledging it, and still living life as I really want to. I’m thankful to have a choice, and I’m thankful for both my courage and my fear.
How about you? What’s your fear like? What does it want? And do you perhaps also find that it actually is what allows you to be the strong, courageous person that you are?
Thanks for getting curious with me,
PS. Some relevant words from Jim Carrey, in an amazing commencement address:
“Fear is going to be a player in your life. But you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we are making in this moment which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it. Please.”