Love is Stronger than Fear

Everest is still struggling with his nighttime fears. He’s been engaged in this battle for a year and a half and, while he’s no longer in a state of terror, the fear creeps up steadily enough to prevent him from falling asleep easily. We’ve introduced him to every technique and tool we can think of to manage the fear, from talking about it to guided imagination work where I’ve led him to his “special place” and taught him to invite magical friends to advise him on the fear. I’ve taught him Inner Bonding, changing the channel (from negative thinking to positive thinking), meditation and saying “No!” to the fear. Fear is so powerful that it needs to be worked with from every angle, from the emotional to the psychological and spiritual. All of these have been effective and all are worthy tools to learn.

Fear arrives in many forms: as doubt, worry, negativity, scepticism, hopelessness, depression, despair, and anxiety. It manifests through physical ailments, like headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, difficulty eating, heart palpitations, and illness. The heart closes when fear grabs hold and the world looks like a very bleak place.

Love also arrives in many forms and its healing and powerful energy can be accessed through a variety of portals: gratitude, appreciation, positive thinking, laughter, meditation, prayer, ecstatic dance, poetry, nature. It manifests in the body as a feeling of joy, hope, radiance, happiness, well-being, and aliveness. When you’re “in-love” (not with another person but in the state of love), your heart opens and the world looks beautiful and full of hope and light.

People who find their way to my work tend to fall into a similar personality profile: They’re emotional, introspective, highly intelligent, highly sensitive, imaginative, and prone to anxiety, depression, and perfectionism. When painful feelings don’t receive loving attention, they often mutate into depression. When the imagination streams into the stratosphere of endless “what-if” possibilities, anxiety takes hold. And when a child with innate moral sensitivity doesn’t learn how to manage his emotional intensity and what-if thoughts, he becomes prone to nighttime fears.

So last night, as Everest’s attempts at falling asleep were thwarted by fear’s arrows and punctuated by his pronouncements of, “I’m scared,” we worked through our series of tools. First he went to his special place. Then he said, “No, Fear!” (I have to admit, this one always brings a secret smile to my face as it tickles me to hear him connecting to his assertive voice.) He seemed relatively calm, but then fear crept up again and we were both jolted out of sleep.

As I held him as close as humanly possible in my arms, I wondered, “Why is he scared when he’s here in my arms, surrounded by love and familiarity and comfort?” The thought then came, “He’s focusing on the wrong things.” I said to him, “Everest, do you know what’s stronger than fear?”

“What?”

“Love. Love is stronger than fear.”

“Oh.”

“See if you can focus on love right now. Feel my arms around you and think about something or someone that you really love.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Baby Asher.” (His little brother).

“Good, so think about Asher and the feeling you get in your body when you think about him.”

I could feel him relax. I could feel both of us relax. The field of fear was usurped by the higher frequency and energetically stronger field of love. We settled into a state of calmness and well-being. And, blessedly, we fell asleep.

This morning I asked if he remembered what helped take the fear away last night. He said, “Love is stronger than fear. It actually worked, Mommy.” Connecting to love always does. I’m under no illusion that he’ll be able to conquer the fear every night or that this is a magic pill; the soul is infinitely more complicated and mysterious than that and working with fear is hard work. But I do believe that I’ve offered him one more tool to add to his kit that he can draw on when he feels fear taking over.

In essence, my work with transitions, whether it’s getting married, becoming a parent, moving, losing a job or the earth’s transition, can be summarized in three words: love versus fear. I can think of no struggle more worthy of our attention.

15 comments to Love is Stronger than Fear

  • magda

    The fear held me in terror for about six months, and it led into another form now, it doesn’t feel like anything, I don’t feel the terror or anxiety. It’s actually just made me closed in and I just feel dead. It’s like I’m held back and can’t fight, I just feel indifferent to everything. I get my moments of hope and love, but I just quickly goes back to a negative state of mind.

  • When you’ve been in terror and anxiety you’re whole life, as you have, it takes tremendous work to break through the layers. Working with the negative mind-state is constant, daily, and lifelong. Hang in there and you’ll start to see longer windows of light.

  • KP

    Recently I have been dealing with the fear that I might be falling out of love with my fiance. I look at him and I don’t feel as connected to him as I have in previous weeks. The reason I feel disconnected is due to my fear- fear of getting married and steping off into the unknown future. He is an absolutly amazing man who some days I cannot wait to be married to and other (like now) I am not even sure I am in love with him enough. I have always dealt with anxiety and the fear of what may come next. I fear losing him to this, when I know he is one of the best things in my life when I get away from fear and stop thinking about it. Then I feel connected once more and excited to spend my life with him. Doubt, fear, and second guessing my choice that I knew in my heart I whole heartedly wanted before we got engaged. This feeling has started to take hold of my personality and I feel that it is making me depressed.

  • KP

    Recently I have been dealing with the fear that I might be falling out of love with my fiance. I look at him and I don’t feel as connected to him as I have in previous weeks. The reason I feel disconnected is due to my fear- fear of getting married and steping off into the unknown future. He is an absolutely amazing man who some days I cannot wait to be married to and other (like now) I am not even sure I am in love with him enough. I have always dealt with anxiety and the fear of what may come next. I fear losing him to this, when I know he is one of the best things in my life when I get away from fear and stop thinking about it. Then I feel connected once more and excited to spend my life with him. Doubt, fear, and second guessing my choice that I knew in my heart I whole heartedly wanted before we got engaged. This feeling has started to take hold of my personality and I feel that it is making me depressed.

  • KP

    Sorry for posting twice

  • KP – I know how awful it is to be gripped by anxiety and fear. I strongly encourage you to read everything on this site in the wedding/marriage category and, like another poster suggested, consider joining the E-Course and posting on the forum. Alongside the fear and anxiety often comes a sense of aloneness and guilt, both of which are greatly relieved through connecting with other women that are going through your exact issues. As you know from past struggles with anxiety, the work is about addressing your anxiety and actually has nothing to do with your relationship. As my wise friend Carrie often says, “It’s not about the story.” So while there is much to learn about love and marriage, the anxiety has nothing to do with your decision to marry. I know it’s confusing right now but when you immerse yourself in this work it will all become clear.

  • CG

    Thank you. I need to remember that love is stronger than fear. My teenagers are really challenging me….making poor choices, doing less than capable in school etc. I live in fear of the possible outcome that are bad. I love them so, but get paralzyed by worry and things I cannot control.

  • KP

    Thank you Sheryl for your helpful words. I keep reminding myself that it is just the anxiety and not my relationship, and to stay in the moment and remind myself when anxiety starts creeping up that I am in a safe place with a man who is going to love me and stand by me to get through this. Anxiety can but my head in a deep fog, and the love I have for my fiance in my heart is the beacon of light guiding me to the truth. Thanks again.

  • Love being stronger than fear certainly helped me move through the wedding transition and I trust that it will also help me move through the parenthood transition, as well. Sometimes it’s all that I can focus on to avoid being swept away by my thoughts of anxiety, fear, and doubt surrounding becoming a parent.

  • Yes, Anna, love will certainly get you through the parenthood transition. I’ve said it many times, but there really is no longer force on this planet than the love you will feel for your child, and that love-relationship actually begins NOW, in the pre-conception stage. I’m excited that you’re starting this journey and I know how scary it is at the outset. I wrote reams about my fears before we even started to try to conceive, and I’m so glad I did. The funny thing is that, while some fears do materialize (yes, your body will never be quite the same), the real fears are those that you can’t even imagine. And it’s all worth it a thousand times over for the privilege and joy of parenting these little miracles.

  • mel chilman

    We have three gorgous boys, aged 10, 9 and 6. I had an early miscarriage about 5 years ago, but sadly my husband did not want to conceive again. In order to protect myself I ended up demonising the very idea of pregnancy, in spite of having done each of our three pregnancies so well, joyfully and energetically. As our children are growing up so quickly now, for the last two years I have desperately wanted another baby. About a year ago, after much persistance my husband agreed that if it would make me happy, we would have another baby. Since this time, I have been the one each month who has stopped us conceiving. I have worried if t is enough for him to say that we can have another if it’s so important to me even though he feels complete. I want to feel the resolute ‘yes’ at ovulation, however it wains within me each time ovulation approaches, only to resurface once ovulation has passed and I’m looking to the next month. I don’t want to feel any anxiety during a new pregnancy that it is the wrong decision, but I feel like I’m always going to be desiring another baby if we don’t go ahead with it.I am now 36 and quite aware that time is soon running out. I’m almost paralysed by fear of making the wrong, undo-able decision. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • First off, there really isn’t a “wrong” decision. You have three beautiful boys and they are a blessing. If you choose to have another, great. If you don’t, there are advantages to that choice as well.

    But what I’m struck with in your post is twofold: 1. I’m wondering if your desire to have another baby is coming from the pain of closing the door on childbearing. If you haven’t read my post called “Closing the Door on Childbearing” I suggest you do so. Deciding to stop having kids is a real grieving process that can activate layers and layers of feeling. 2. Did you grieve your early miscarriage? Enduring a miscarriage is suffering through the loss of a child and it requires real and deep grieving.

    Once you grieve these areas, your clarity about which path to choose might become more evident. Does that make sense?

  • chelsea

    Great article , that is something I struggle with a lot now the ” what if” questions

  • Ashley

    Is it normal for the fear to come after the wedding? I never had any doubts or “what ifs” until after the wedding and honeymoon. Maybe a little bit on my wedding day because I was really anxious.