I’ll always remember when my younger son broke through one of his major fears. The year before, after a fateful trip to Disneyland, he developed a severe case of separation anxiety. If my husband or I left him alone for even a minute to take out the trash or get the mail he would panic. Babysitters were out of the question. Our world became very small.
We honored the fear for a while hoping that, with time, it would dissipate. But month after month he continued to show the same level of panic surrounding separation, and we knew it wasn’t healthy for him or anyone else in our family to allow it to continue. We employed several tools and sought help, and soon he was ready to try to stay at our close friends’ house so my husband and I could have a much-needed date. We all rallied around him, including his big brother who made him a special toy for the occasion. We drove there, dropped him off, and left a happy boy to play with his brother and their closest friend. When I picked him up he said, “What was I so scared of?!” It was a victory for everyone.
On the way home, my older son said to his little brother, “You see, the more power you give to fear, the bigger it grows.” We talked in detail about how fear works, and we could all see clearly from this experience the deep truth of my son’s statement. We could have talked about his fear until the cows came home but ultimately we needed to look fear in the eye and say, “I’m bigger than you are”, which meant taking the action of staying at a safe place without us present. And that’s exactly what he courageously did.
This same principle applies to our love relationships, for when it comes to love, we all have fear-walls. We construct barricades around our hearts because we’ve been hurt by love somewhere along the paths of this vulnerable life: by parents, siblings, peers, teachers, religious leaders, lovers. We have fear-walls because we’re born with a part of ourselves called an ego, and it seems to be the ego’s role to live from a small-minded place of fear, control, and self-protection. We have fear-walls because we’re human, and it’s part of our task as humans to learn how to work effectively with fear.
While insight into the causes and roots of our fear can be helpful, what ultimately takes the biggest bite out of fear is action.
Here’s my simple geometric love proof:
Love is more powerful than fear.
Real love is loving action.
Therefore, the antidote to fear is action.
Some people seem to know naturally what loving actions shrink fear. They likely were raised by parents who modeled healthy love and consistent attachment, so they learned by osmosis what is required to dismantle and ultimately disintegrate the fear walls. But for those of us who were raised with unhealthy love models that formed a blueprint of fear and separateness, we need concrete skills and actions that will create the roadmap. When practiced consistently, these daily actions act like anti-fear medication and will help dissolve the fear so that love can grow.
There are many spokes to the wheel of this map, and underlying all of them is learning to recognize how fear sounds and feels so that we don’t mistakenly believe it as truth. Using the example that I included in my blog post a few weeks ago, if your partner comes downstairs in the morning and you feel retracted, the habitual mind will assume it means that you’re not attracted to your partner or don’t love him/her enough. Once you move beyond this initial and false interpretation, you will then learn to ask, “What is needed here?” Perhaps you’re feeling disconnected from yourself in some way, or disconnected from your partner. You can then take a loving action toward yourself and toward your partner that will move you closer each other. If you listen to the fear, you will fortify the bricks around your heart and create a wider chasm between the two of you. If you inquire with curiosity and take action, you will sidestep fear and the distance between you will shrink to zero.
For many people, the fear-wall takes the form of, “I’m not attracted to my partner.” Because we culturally hold physical attraction as one the baseline gauges that tell us whether or not we’re really “in love”, when this spoke of the fear-wheel rears its head it’s quickly shushed behind the fortresses of taboo and shame. We simply don’t understand that lack of physical attraction is primary a symptom of disconnection, just like lack of sexual libido. In other words, when we take the actions to shrink fear and grow true connection and intimacy, attraction and sexual desire are more likely to bloom.
There is a clear and simple roadmap that, when followed and practiced, will shrink fear and grow love, attraction, and sexual desire. This is the roadmap I will be offering in my sixth round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner, which will begin on June 20th, 2015. My 30-day courses are meaningful journeys we walk together as I lead you through daily emails, forum conversations, and weekly phone calls into the labyrinth of the heart, and it’s always a privilege to lead as, inevitably, I learn just as much from you as you do from me. Let’s dive in together as love-warriors as we learn more and more about this ever-deepening dance between fear and love.