It happens to all of us. As humans, we’re biologically wired to respond strongly and quickly to fear in the name of self-preservation (think tiger chasing you in the underbrush). Often, in 21st-century North America, the fears we’re confronted with aren’t anything even close to being life-threatening.
But we still respond as though they are.
Fear vs. Love
Two years ago I wrote a post about my own discovery that fear was influencing the choices I made while scrolling through my Facebook feed. I realized that, as much as I disliked seeing people I know and love defending the NRA (something unconscionable to me), my own fears provoked me to rant about them privately to my husband (I wrote about it HERE).
So here I was, feeling fearful of what the NRA supporters were trying to accomplish, and there they were, fearful of what non-supporters like me were trying to do. Everyone was completely afraid, and most of us still are!
I was amazed to discover just how much influence my fear had over something as seemingly mundane as my Facebook preferences.
Which begs the question: With so much fear-mongering going on during the election process this year (“ISIS is going to get us… big banks are trying to screw us… politicians are trying to dupe us… Trump is a racist… Hillary is a liar… etc., etc.”), how do you choose to respond?
When Fear Comes into Play, Where is Your Choice?
When my fears threaten to take over, I’m soothed by one comforting thought: I can’t control what others do or say. But I can control how I respond.
Some things are just simply out of my hands. I would drive myself crazy to try and change them.
But other things – like how I speak to people, how I think about them and respond to them – are completely within my grasp. And I truly believe that if we’re going to take meaningful steps toward a peaceful existence, it starts on the individual level.
That means you and me, baby.
It’s my job to notice my fears but respond with love, even when it feels impossible.
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It’s my job to notice my fears. Rather than act on the fear in a defensive, aggressive or hurtful way, my job is to take a deep breath and remember that the other person is human. The other person wants what I want: to be surrounded by loving family, to make a decent income, and to experience freedom.
Isn’t that what all of us truly want?
Listen to Your Enemy
We cannot conquer fear by being more fearful. We cannot defeat hate by being more hateful.
The only way to “win” is to be more loving more of the time.
I’m a big fan of a video that has been making the rounds on Facebook lately. It features an unnamed former CIA agent, a woman, who has over 10 years of experience in the “war on terror.” She says, “the only way to disarm your enemy is to listen to him."
“If you hear them out, if you’re brave enough to really listen to their story, you can see that, more often than not, you would have made some of the same choices if you’d lived their life instead of yours.”
Check out the video, below.
So, where do you find yourself experiencing fear in your life? And how can you make a choice that will empower you and those around you, rather than make them small? How can you choose love?
I want to hear your response to the video. Leave a comment in the area below to join the conversation.
Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.