There are the typical fears of heights, blood, spiders, etc; but today I’m going to discuss one of my deeper rooted fears. One that I didn’t notice immediately and disregarded until I came face-to-face with it a few weeks ago (read about that here).
Out of all of the fears I’ve overcome in the past two-ish years, I think this is the Queen Bee. The one that needed to be acknowledged in order for me to move forward: the fear of unknowingness, that something will happen that I can’t control or I didn’t foresee (‘what if’ thoughts).
For the sole purpose of it being prevalent in my life, I’m going to dive deeper into the fear of love with a significant other. I think we can all agree that love is one of the best feelings ever. It can also be the scariest, confusing, most mentally unstable feeling ever.
I feel the most comfortable when I have control of a situation and are given tangible facts. When I’m not in control, fear manifests itself in different ways: physically, mentally, mood changes, outlook of current life, suppressing feelings, and putting up armor to protect myself.
In certain situations, I’ve made giant strides in giving up control: work, friends, family, strangers, NYC Public Transportation (lol), etc. These are reoccurring situations. I’ve been able to practice the skills to giving up control and instill calmness.
However, love isn’t something that I can practice frequently. It’s special, unique, a blessing. It’s one of the only decisions in life that I hope will be concrete. Lastly, there’s this other amazing human being involved who I don’t want to hurt.
The definition of love is not a fact or equation. What is love? What does love look like? How can you get love? The unknowingness instills fear. I have my own perception of what love, but knowing that perception is simply an opinion and not concrete heightens the fear.
MINDFULLY SARAH STORY TIME:
Last time I was in love, my fear sabotaged our relationship and dictated my level of vulnerability. While I felt safer when I was less vulnerable, I didn’t allow myself to feel the closeness and bask in moments of intimacy like I desired.
I felt unworthy. I constantly wondered if I was attractive enough, cool enough, nice enough. My esteem boosted when I felt as though I impressed him and his friends. I realize now, I was strategically planning my mannerisms and topics of conversation to stay in control. It also supported the societal conditioning I acquired from media: I should be able to adjust my true self in the given moment to align with what’s expected of a good girlfriend. In the short term, these esteem booster techniques covered up the fear, but in the long term I was suppressing my identity and the personality I now love and cherish.
In the last few months of our relationship, I was living life like my ‘what if’ thoughts were a reality. My focus was constantly on my personal outcome. I justified my decisions by jumping to conclusions and shutting down anything that didn’t align with my plan to move to New York and start my career.
FAST FORWARD 3 YEARS TO TODAY!
You may be wondering, “Sarah – what happens now?” TBH, I’m currently smack in the middle of exploring and acknowledging this struggle. I have no concrete answers. I think I am still afraid of not being in control of certain things. I’ve recognized that my anxiety and panic come from fear of anxiety and panic.
Writing this post has been an exploration of this newfound challenge. I have so many interesting tidbits of wealth (below). I am constantly trying to improve and dig deep. Whenever I find myself doubting my willingness to uncover my perceived thoughts, defense mechanisms, and irrational beliefs – I will remember how far I have come, the battles I’ve won and the fears I’m working to overcome.
- Approach fear with curiosity and compassion
- Notice when you’re holding back and being self-protective
- Be Honest
- Stop doubting you are worthy of genuine love
- Foster a sense of openness and communication
- It’s okay to be vulnerable
- Be 110% yourself, stay self aware
- Be vocal about the fact that you’re better at figuring things out by yourself, rather than pressured or getting unrequested input
- Be upfront about what you from him and the relationship. Encourage him to do the same
- Don’t let fear rule your actions and choose to move toward love
- My fears have fueled me to move forward and has led me here – to a place where I feel comfortable facing my desire to be in love one day.
“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” – Bruce Barton