Don’t let fear control your life
There are only two feelings.
Love and fear.
There are only two languages.
Love and fear.
—Michael Leunig, “Love and Fear”
When we seek to connect with others, there are only two approaches available to us. We can choose to let love be the force that drives our actions or we can allow fear to control us.
My mother raised me to look at things with love in my mind and to only act out of kindness. She told me that my thoughts and words would influence the quality of my life and the way I viewed the meaning of my days. If I was upset about how someone was treating me, rather than thinking about how they were treating me, I would think about how others’ actions have nothing to do with me, and that I now know more about who they are. When I failed, she reminded me not to think about how I’ve failed but rather that I just know what not to do next time I try.
The school of love is one of positive-thinking and openness. And that which we think, we possess. According to Aristotle, “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” Sounds simple? Well, it’s much easier said than done. Controlling our own thoughts is not as simple as we wish it to be. Wishing to have positive thoughts will not necessarily grant us the ability to do so.
Fear can cloud our vision, and much more than many people tend to realize. When I talked to some of my close family and friends about having trust issues, there were many overlapping themes. During one of those conversations, a friend told me, “The more people you trust, the more likely you are to get hurt.” Many other responses were similar. While I myself can definitely attest to this feeling, I can’t shake the hope that there is another way to go about living.
So many people allow fear to run their lives, and I’m certainly not excluded from that group, but lately, I’ve come to realize that fear only exists as an outlet for negativity in my mind, and vulnerability has proved to be worth it in the long run. We can tell ourselves that the fear is just so strong that we can’t open up to people, but the truth is that we are choosing to be weaker than the fear, even when we really are not.
When we approach things with love in our hearts, there is undoubtedly a difference in the outcomes that we are given. When referring to being dissatisfied with you life, William Shakespeare, in his play Hamlet, writes, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” There are things in life we can’t change, and we have no control over that. We cannot control the actions of anyone or anything but ourselves. Our happiness or lack thereof, all depends on our perspective of things that have happened to us, and how we act in response.
We can choose to learn a lesson or simply get hurt and continue to live life the same way. Many people believe that by putting your trust in another so easily, you are simply setting yourself up for failure—setting yourself up to be hurt, all because of your naive trust. I’ll be honest and say I can look at it like that, too. It’s true that loving can lead to hurting, but the goal in life is not to allow fear to lead to the lack of love. Try to keep in mind that if we have been hurt, it means we have loved and been loved.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others opens up so many opportunities to feel joy in your life. When people see the raw version of you, connections are made. We are able to bond with others, when we are able to have people in our lives we know just as well as ourselves. People who will hold us while we’re falling apart and who will gleefully admire and appreciate the beauty of the lives we have created for ourselves.
It’s human nature to thrive off the connection to others. We do ourselves an incredible disservice by letting worry get in the way of feeling love of any kind, whether it be friendship, familial or romantic. Having close relationships with people makes life much less of a weight on our shoulders. If we have people to share our struggles and joy with, we endure the ups-and-downs with others to catch us when we fall.
I’m not here to teach you how to be vulnerable. Vulnerability means something new to each person, and I can’t tell you how to live your life. What I can tell you is that there is an endless amount of love in the world, and it would be a shame if only some of us humans took the opportunity to experience just how meaningful that can be. Is being hurt so scary that you won’t even open up to the possibility of knowing what it’s like to be happy?
Dylan D’Arezzo is a first-year writing major who isn’t afraid of anything… except the dark. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.