During a recent conversation with a friend, we were reminded of how often people (ourselves/myself included) love from a place of fear. This is something I never even realized I was doing, until I started to examine my behaviors and sit with my own insecurities, fears and truths.
What do I mean when I say “loving from fear”? I am talking about when we love someone because we are afraid to lose them. When we love someone because we are afraid of being alone. When we love someone because we are afraid to see them with someone else. When we love someone because we are afraid of what our future will/would look like without them. When we love someone because we are too afraid to face the present and would rather live in an imaginary, idealized future.
I know we are all “generally” anxious about those sort of scenarios, but I am talking about when those are the primary reasons we are holding onto the person or the relationship. When the love you have for the person is based on your own needs, fears, anxieties or insecurities. That is when you’re not truly loving them, but rather acting out of a place of selfishness. I can’t say how one “should” love another, but I know that loving someone, and expressing that love to them from an origin of selfishness is never right. It’s not right for the receiving party, or the offering party. We can masquerade or justify our “fear based love” a million times in our minds, but boiled down to the most reduced part, it’s simply selfishness.
How do we begin to combat this? It will look different for everyone, based on the relationship, the fear it’s coming from, and the ability to face those. Some ideas:
1. Really examine the relationship. Whether it’s family, friend or romantic partner, we can benefit from putting thought toward the dynamic and truly trying to understand the beneficial exchange for both parties. When examined, are the “pros” or “cons” outweighing the other largely? Is the exchange balanced between the parties?
2. Search your soul for your own fears, insecurities and “shadows”. Make a list of them, then contrast that to that list in #1, and see if any of those actions (your own) are born from a place of self preservation, need for validation or selfishness. If you’re unsure of how to go about this, or need help – ask! Go talk to a therapist, seek out a “coach”, or start looking for resources that dive into the topic of recognizing your “shadows” and do a little casual reading/listening.
3. Ask a trusted person. Sometimes people already see/know our behaviors and can spot them much easier than we can (or want to), but we have to be ready to hear them. Often our friends/family/partner can be our biggest mirror or our own truths that we don’t want to face, and that is why we are so frequently triggered by them and find conflict; however, if you can create a safe container for the conversation and be truly open to receiving feedback, they can be a source of some of your greatest observations and growth. Instead of a mirror that shows you negative parts of yourself, reframe that though process so they become a sounding board that gives you insight into this whole part of yourself that you can begin to improve upon.