“I’d spent my life believing that people were, at heart, kind and good. This is what the world had shown me. But I couldn’t find anything good about my captors. If humans could be this monstrous, maybe I’d had everything wrong. If this was the world, I didn’t want to live in it. That was the scariest and most disabling thought of all.”
– Amanda Lindhout, A House in the Sky.
You asked me what I was afraid of
I said I didn’t know
because I was afraid of answering
afraid of feeling my own fear
because I am scared, and that scares me
I’m so scared that everything I hold to be real isn’t true. I’m scared that people aren’t fundamentally good. I’m scared that we have no purpose and no importance. I’m scared that it’s all an illusion created by chemical pathways and it will mean nothing at the end. I’m scared of being alone and having nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one. I’m scared that nothing I do really matters. I’m scared that I’m not special, that nothing I feel is real or unique or important, it’s all just evolution and flawed perception. I’m scared that I’m not good enough. That none of it matters, not even love.
All of my beliefs are made to counteract my fear. I tell myself that these fears aren’t real, that love is, because I think maybe, even if it’s not true, it can help to get me through.
So I’ve built up these complex logical systems, optimistic justifications for every doubt I think about
created so many little reasons why we do matter, why good is real, how reality is whatever I choose to believe.
if I really believed it, maybe I wouldn’t have to convince myself
I think every meaningful human action can be traced to an either love or fear-based motivational drive. Every decision we make, every word we say and thing we do comes from a place of either love or fear.
All good things come from & return to love. Joy, faith, compassion, connection – love is the link that connects us to one another, what motivates us to create. Acceptance is found through love, because when you love something unconditionally, there is no need to change it. I think all positive changes in the world come about as a result of a love-based underlying belief paradigm, e.g. wanting to help people because you love them or make the world a better place for the love of it. When you are immersed in an activity, whether it be a conversation or a drawing, this is where you find love (I expand on love as connection and creation in Lust for Life).
I have found that all the perceived negative aspects of love (especially in the context of relationships) are solely those that do not come from a place of love, but fear. Relationships built on conditional love are not built on love at all, but fear of being alone. There’s a huge difference between being with someone because you love them, and being with someone because you’re scared of being on your own. The latter is a fear-based behavior.
Fear is a mechanism that allows us to recognize that we are uncomfortable with a situation and challenges us to change (see Expectations vs. Reality for information on how to change to make it better). We’re not able to change for the better unless it’s through love.
Fear evolved as a motivational mechanism to make us aware of threats that mostly don’t plague civilization today. The overwhelmingly strong fear response successfully kept us alive and out of danger for the majority of our time on this earth. However, we simply do not have the same threats we used to. As a result, the majority of fear we experience is psychological, not legitimate threats for our safety. Because of this, the negatives often outweigh the benefits of fear. This is one of the reasons clinical psychopaths, who don’t experience fear the same way regular people do, are so successful in places like business – it’s more advantageous to take a risk when it comes to things like investments. We don’t have as much to be scared of as we perceive. Our reality is usually more optimistic than we perceive it to be.
A lot of people in our society are driven by fear, so we normalize it. But we can change this. We can defeat the fear through awareness, through acceptance, because that’s the only way to bring about positive change. Fear is a manifestation of unconsciousness – it tears us away from one another.
Fear IS important for who we are as humans – it’s what allows us to change our world and keeps us alive, part of what has made us so successful as a species. Despite this, it’s blatantly counterproductive for happiness and inner peace. Fear doesn’t make you stronger, it tells you where you’re weak. Don’t believe your mind when it tells you not to be vulnerable or real – this is where we find real love and connection. Bravery is one of the virtues I hold in highest stead, because it’s the ability to love in face of adversity. It’s what allows us to overcome fear.
3. Conclusion/Personal thoughts
Something I personally struggle with is having a want to do stuff vs. being scared of not doing something. Here, my self-worth is contingent on the activities I engage in. The goal: having all that is be enough, but still be able to enact positive change through a want to make the world better, through love.
I know I can make the best difference when I’m the best me. This is me when I’m coming from a place of love, not of fear. So I try to forgive myself and others and believe the world is enough as it is. Because it’s the only world we have, because I’m the only me there’s ever going to be, because it’s all the time I’m given. Because ultimately, it’s not the time that matters, it’s what I do with it. And I could be fearful about it, put pressure on myself to do things as if being were not enough. Or I could love ,and be grateful that I’m able to be alive in the first place, not to mention do great things on top of that!! I choose love.