I have found that living from love rather than fear is easier said than done and not as simple as it seems. There is alot of old stuff to unpick. There is discernment to practice to find the root and motivation of the fear. There is an art to be learnt in knowing how to lean in gently to the fear and see if there is any validity or treasure in what it has to offer. Tools can be needed to move through the fear, along with gentle steady steps.
But, we do ultimately get to choose if we want to live our life from fear and with the right tools and/or support I have experienced that it is then easier to build a more automatic way of living from love, which can be built up like a muscle. One of the best tools that I have identified for my toolbox in times of fear is gentle gratitude, or love.
Gratitude can be a powerful antidote to fear. I see fear as usually being about the future, or the past repeating itself in the future. Or about what is going to happen in the present. But if I can be grateful for what I have or am in the present already, then that de-armours the fear. I find it more difficult to be afraid at the same time as having a heart full of gratitude because my focus is on that instead.
Gratitude brings an attitude and feeling of abundance and overflow, even if we are grateful for the smallest of things. Fear brings, or comes from, an attitude of scarcity and lack and concentrates on what we don't have or are lacking in ourselves or what might happen to take away what we already have or are.
If a relationship ends and we are afraid to go on without it we can be grateful that it existed and the gifts it brought us whilst we were in it, no matter how hard it is to also grieve. We can be grateful that we still have ourselves, the possibility of a new relationship in future and the time to lay the foundation for that within ourselves and lives. If we are afraid of painful past events repeating themselves we can be grateful for the lessons that they brought us and the opportunity to change the ending of story, a moment at a time.
This is not to say that fear isn't valuable or should be abruptly avoided or bypassed. It wouldn't be wise to ignore or brush past it. I have found it useful to lean into it and see what it has to say first, before just moving towards gratitude. Once we hear, know and acknowledge what it is saying we then can question it's validity. Is this fear real or warranted? Is it coming from old limiting beliefs to keep me in the 'safety' of staying small, resisting all that I am to stay in my comfort zone. Is it even mine? Is it sourced in past conditionings that don't serve me or is it coming in externally from a society that has interests other than our own and love in mind?
As Osho writes, fear can be a cosy prison. "Each transformation is going to be painful because the old has to be left for the new. The old is familiar, secure, safe, the new is absolutely unknown. You will be moving in an uncharted ocean. You cannot use your mind with the new; with the old, the mind is skillful. The mind can function only with the old; with the new, the mind is utterly useless. Hence, fear arises. And leaving the old, comfortable, safe world, the world of convenience, pain arises. It is the same pain that the child feels when he comes out of the womb of the mother. It is the same pain that the bird feels when he comes out of the egg. It is the same pain that the bird will feel when he will try for the first time to be on the wing. The fear of the unknown, and the security of the known, the insecurity of the unknown, the unpredictability of the unknown, makes one very much frightened." Osho (Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships)
In becoming grateful for the opportunities that arise for me and being able to see and be aware of the root of my fears and work to move through them, if needed, I am better placed to take these opportunities than if I just focused on the 'what might go wrong' if I leap.
About a year and a half ago gratitude helped to change my life completely and held my hand whilst I walked through the fear of change.
I saw a friend's post on Facebook one day in which she was sharing a gratitude challenge, listing some things she was grateful for each day. On this particular day, when I was despairing once again in not being where I wanted to be, mostly inside, I happened to see her post where she was talking about being grateful for the space in which she lived and how it had nurtured her inner growth and freedom. I had been feeling deep within that I needed to create my own physical 'container' for the first time ever, to hold the alchemy of my inner transformation and birth a new life.
I was giving living in London a 'final shot' after coming back from living away in which I was living out another disastrous pattern that was following me everywhere I went. I had recently been to Glastonbury to get some space and find a way through a really challenging inner place that I was in. I had loved it there, being in the countryside and being amongst an almost village-like but open-minded community that overall celebrated the more magical and beautiful things in life, honoured the changing seasons and came together to create or attend celebrations, events, workshops, classes or whatever that I needed to travel over 45 minutes on a mostly hostile and uninspiring bus journey to get to in London. I was so tired of walking past people that didn't even acknowledge each other and feeling the stagnant negative energy of the city that hung over it like a cloud, in spite of the flip-side of the amazing diversity and opportunities it offered, some treasured friends living there and other rays of sunshine that the city had to offer.
It's another story but on that first occasion that I visited Glastonbury in Spring I ended up unexpectedly enrolling on a life-changing one year course that took place one full weekend every two months, bringing me back regularly to my new favourite place. I had recently returned from the second one of these weekends when I saw my friend's post about her gratitude for the space around her.
I immediately typed in an internet search for places to live there, not seriously considering it. I had tried to maintain the filling up of my well feeling that I had felt when leaving the last time but London never took long in seemingly draining it. The first place that came up on Google is the place that I have lived ever since.
I was surprised by the decision to move, myself. I wouldn't have imagined doing it in a million years. I thought that I needed to be 'better at London' but I had finally reached a great enough level of self-acceptance and gentleness to be able to say 'maybe I don't need to be good at London - maybe it isn't for me.'
I didn't know anyone in this new town, except for a couple of acquaintances at the time, from my new course. There were definitely fears that came with making a big move into the unknown but I felt strongly within me that this move was finally coming from my soul, to take care of me from a place of wholeness and moving me towards a new future that was different from the past. I felt this warm, gentle guidance within me amongst all the confusion and whatever else going on in my head. I now feel for this when making other decisions to check if they are coming from the same place, underneath any fear. The more I do this, the stronger and clearer the gentle guidance is.
Sometimes we get the right information at the right time. And then we can choose to follow the signs or ignore them, in fear or resistance, remaining in the cosy old that may or may not be outdated. Sometimes we can choose to leap or stay. In every moment we can act from love or fear. The choice is ours and gratitude can be our hand to hold and loving balm; a trusted ally on our team and powerful tool within our toolbox. Thank you gratitude. Thank you gentleness. Thank you awareness. Thank you love.
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