I remember watching the movie “Donnie Darko” years ago and a scene in which he was asked to plot where he was on a line, one end of which was labeled “love” and the other “fear”. He thought this a ridiculous exercise that made no sense and at the time I agreed with him. How is fear at the opposite end of the spectrum to love? Surely it should be hate? As life has continued to place wonderful challenges on my path I have come to realise that we do indeed operate from a place of either love or fear, our relationships with partners and friends a perfect example of this.
If we go in to a relationship feeling less than love for ourselves we may be going in feeling “incomplete”, that there is something missing from us. Maybe we have a fear of commitment and think this other person will help us overcome this, or maybe we are simply lonely and want someone to be with us to stop that. The problem here is that we are looking at that other person to fix us. That they will sort out all our problems and make us a better person. This is a very passive place to be, assuming (incorrectly) that we are unable to make these changes ourselves. When in fact it is us, and only us, that has the ability to change how we feel about ourselves. We then start to think “if he/she leaves me then I will be incomplete again” so we are now in a relationship based on fear rather than love. We change our behaviour to what we think will most likely please the other person and make it less likely that they will leave. In this situation we continually undermine our true self because what we are saying or doing is not what we may truly want. This also actually has the opposite effect of what it is trying to achieve, your partner will pick up on this incongruence and it will piss them off! Have you ever hear (or said) something along the lines of
“What movie would you like to see tonight?”
“Oh, I don’t mind, whatever you want to see”
Now there may be occasions where this is true. But the times where it is not (secretly you want to see the movie where Bruce Willis is wearing a vest as he walks away from explosions) you undermine your relationship by not being true to what you want. And as this continues it wears away at the intimacy in the relationship as to have true intimacy you need to be truly present, not wearing a mask. It is being unfaithful to your partner and being unfaithful to yourself.
The fear of not being loved is being put on to our partner to solve but then they don’t “make” us happy. This is because firstly, it is impossible for someone else to make you feel anything. We choose how to react to any given situation (unless they poke us in the eye with a fish finger, then I guess they could make us feel pain); and secondly, because we have been wearing the mask for so long they have no idea how to contribute to our happiness as they don’t know who we truly are with all our wonderful eccentricities and manias. So when we realise that our partner has failed to do what they didn’t know they had been asked to do, we get angry and resentful with them that our lives are not complete. We blame them for not “completing” us when it was never their job in the first place. It is our own. Only we can complete ourselves by learning to love ourselves. This comes from having compassion for ourselves (as discussed in my previous post), by speaking our truth at all times even if it sometimes causes pain and by letting go of patterns of behaviour and thinking that no longer serve us. If you want to spend your whole life repeating the cycle of looking outwardly for someone to fix an internal need you will be searching a very long time when in fact that someone already exists within you. When you have learned this you will be able to really enjoy being in that relationship as you will be there because of love, you don’t “need” the other person so you don’t fear them leaving. You are there because your soul resonates with theirs, for however long that may be.
Here is an exercise to try next time you are doing something you don’t really want to do with a friend or partner. Imagine yourself floating above watching the situation and study your physical self. What is your body posture? Is it upright and proud or bent and submissive? Why are you doing this? Who does it benefit? What would you be doing right now if you could do what you wanted? Tell them RIGHT NOW what you really want to do. You will, and they probably will, love you for it. Even if they get pissed off that you want to go and get fitted for a monocle and baby badger fur waistcoat at least you’re being genuine. Love yourself and you need no-one else to.
Somebody once told me the wedding vows he and his wife spoke at their wedding. Both are wonderfully empowered people, living their mission in life and an inspiration to all they meet.
“I am here to help you remember not to forget, I am here to help you be the greatest possible version of yourself that you can be.”
Love or fear? To know your partner/friend is with you because they love you and that they will always speak their truth is wonderfully liberating. So don’t fear yourself, love yourself and the world will love you too.