Fear’s entire mission in life is to keep you safe from the risk of loving. It sees love as a dangerous cesspool where the invisible sea creatures lurk beneath the dark surface, waiting to snatch you into their murky waters. Fear believes that if you risk your heart through committed loving you will endure unbearable loss: you will either lose yourself in some way or you will lose your partner. Either way, fear tells you to run because it’s trying to protect you from an unpredictable risk.
Fear uses a handful of lines in its attempt to convince you to run. This is helpful information becuase once you identify the finite number of lines, you can begin to challenge them, diffuse them, and eventually, with enough committed work, flick them away like annoying mosquitos. Here are the top 10 most common lines fear carries in its arsenal:
3. If you really loved him/her, you wouldn’t have to work this hard.
4. You’re not attracted to him/her.
5. There’s not enough sexual chemistry.
6. There’s someone else out there that wouldn’t make you feel this anxious.
7. You’re settling.
8. You had more chemistry with your ex.
9. Love doesn’t last.
10. Everyone’s relationship is better than yours (the grass is always greener syndrome)
When I’m working with clients, I offer effective responses for challenging each of these lines. For example, when fear says, “You’re settling,” a response that pulls the rug out from beneath fear is, “So what? If settling means having a solid, loving, wonderful relationship, then bring it on!” I encourage my clients to write down the response and keep it handy on a notecard (or iPhone, Blackberry, etc) so that as soon as she becomes aware of fear, she can respond.
For many clients, however, responding to fear with a challenge that disarms its power is a second or third course of action. We usually begin by discussing our culture’s buzzwords and dysfunctions around love and commitment, then we delve into the personal history that is fueling fear’s rampage. If you come from a history of divorce, doesn’t it make sense that fear will rise up with a ferocious attack if you’re considering marriage? Remember, fear doesn’t want you to get hurt again. It saw the pain and devastation you experienced and witnessed as a child and it truly believes that the only safe route is to remain alone or, at the very least, uncommitted.