Fear is not the enemy in relationships, it’s your best friend
So this may seem like an outrageous statement. Fear is something we avoid, right? We don’t like to be afraid or scared. Fear changes our physiology, it changes the way we think, react, breathe – the way we live our lives. It’s the one thing we seem most unable to control, it can appear without warning and leave just as fast. So why on earth should we embrace it? I’ll tell you why.
Fear has some powerful lessons to teach us. Alongside love, it can be the fastest, sharpest accelerator of growth that we have. It is the quickest way our subconscious has of telling us that a change needs to be made, that something needs to be confronted or that we’re missing a component which is of vital importance to our progression. When it comes to anything we do, especially in our relationships with ourselves and others, I challenge you to look squarely at anything that scares you.
1 – Don’t run, don’t retreat, just stop
Begin by standing still with your fear, by taking time to acknowledge it and know it at more than a surface level. Whatever is making you afraid doesn’t necessarily have to be present, it’s just about stopping and working out if your fear of this thing is genuine, or a disguise for deeper issues that lay beneath it. Are you scared of quitting your abusive relationship because you might not find a better one, or is the fear actually about being alone?
2 – Assess the threat
So you’ve either determined that your original fear is genuine or you’ve uncovered the real, underlying one. Now what you need to do is work out what the threat means for you and your life. Perhaps you’re scared of failing with yet another partner. Ask yourself, what does failure actually mean for you, what does it say about who you are as a person, how will it affect your friendships or your future? Is the result of ending a relationship all negative, or are there any positive ones? How real are the consequences of this threat and how many are imagined?
3 – Assess the risk
So maybe you’re scared of being hurt or of something ending badly, this could be the threat you foresee to a current relationship. But what is the actual risk of it? For example, if you’re frightened that moving in together will end badly, think about how things have gone so far. Do you communicate well, is there mutual respect, are you both aware and considerate of each other’s feelings? If you continue like this, then is the risk of things ending badly significantly lower than perhaps it was in other relationships you’ve had or known about?
4 – Make a decision irrespective of the fear
Ask yourself what you would do in this situation, if fear were not an issue. What course of action would you decide on, if you were throwing caution to the wind?
5 – Make a final decision
Make a conscious decision, one that is based on the points above and not a knee-jerk reaction to the fear. When making a conscious choice you should not only acknowledge your chosen course of action, but also what you’re not going to do, i.e. ‘I choose to continue avoiding love. I choose to not get help from a professional about it.’ This makes you accountable as much as possible for your chosen path in life.
6 – Plan for the future
Plan your future based on your decision. It might mean that you revisit your decision in 6 months time or, that you’ll look into methods of keeping your fear at bay for the rest of your life. For example, if you decide that you’re not going to meet your partner’s children, you may want to start working out whether you really want to date someone with kids.
Always use fear, as much as possible, as an aid to opening your eyes to challenges that need to be confronted. Remember, fear need not rule your relationships, you always have a choice.