Halloween is this month and most of us relate it to being scared. Fear is a natural response to situations and its purpose is to make us safe. In a close relationship, though, fear works against creating and keeping a deep connection with people. What scares us most about love? It’s the same things that bring up fear in other areas of our lives. There are two reasons fear comes up in us:
· What we don’t know; the unknown
· What we make up to explain the unknown
Let’s say you’re walking on a path in a wooded area and you hear a snap like a branch breaking. Your fear response gets triggered because:
· You don’t know what made the branch snap
· You decide it’s a bear getting ready to attack you
People are compelled to make sense of things they don’t know. And our fear response makes us go to extremes to try to explain something. When walking on the path in the woods it’s difficult to:
· Just accept the sound and don’t make anything of it
· Decide the sound is just the wind snapping a dry branch in a tree We are often pulled toward going to the extreme in our explanations of the unknown! Such is the power of our protection mechanism, fear!
Fear and Love
It works the same way in our relationships. Have you ever had the thought about your partner:
· Why did they say that?
· Why did they do that?
Let’s say that your partner is 30 minutes late coming home from work and they are normally on time.
How many of you think “They’ve been in a horrible accident” or “They must be seeing someone else”? When fear is a component of our relationship, we may jump to these explanations because we want to protect ourselves.
When no fear is present, you can think “Traffic must be bad tonight” which is a much milder story to make up than the others.
What We Fear Now May Be What We Feared Before
Fear keeps us from getting close to someone we love. The fear is probably coming up from a past experience that “feels” like we feel now. So it’s natural for you to think the explanation must be similar to the past experience.
Don’t worry, most people do this! It’s the easiest way for us to make sense of things.
If my past fears keep coming up in my current relationship, how can I get rid of them?
The next time it happens, try one of the following techniques:
· Tell yourself that there must be a hundred or more reasons why the current situation happened. Then pick the simplest and tell yourself, this is probably the reason. Repeat it to yourself several times to get yourself comfortable with this simple explanation.
· Tell yourself “It doesn’t matter. It just is.” This will challenge your need to know, but bypasses your fear response. And it allows you to be open to the truth, if and when it comes to you.
So, in practice, your partner is 30 minutes late. You say to yourself:
· “There a hundred reasons for this and I believe it to be bad traffic tonight.”
· “It doesn’t matter. It just is.” When your partner gets home they tell you that the boss called a last-minute meeting that ran late and they forgot to call because they were thinking about the meeting on the way home.
Using either technique, you’ve saved yourself a lot of needless stress, worry and fear!
What scares us most about love? It’s not really love we fear but the fear that love may go away!
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