We all have fears. Some are obvious and easy to identify, but others can hide just below the surface of our awareness. Nothing will bring out our hidden fears faster than when we are in a relationship. When given the possibility of falling in love they can take over, and many times we don't recognize what's going on.
When fears play out in our relationships they will stop us from connecting with a man and keep love at a distance. If we're having a hard time sustaining relationships or keep getting involved with the wrong men, it's most likely our fears that are taking over. The stronger the fears the greater the influence they have on our ability to have a healthy love life.
Some of the most common hidden fears are:
- Fear of not being enough for a man.
- Fear of being wrong.
- Fear of being unlovable.
These fears show up because real love requires that we be vulnerable and that can make us very uncomfortable. Vulnerability implies intimacy and that can be just plain scary, so our fears will try to take control the situation by putting us on the defensive. Sometimes we don't even know it's happening!
A defense is something we use to protect ourselves. In the dictionary a defense is referred to as "guarding, fortification; resistance, deterrent." A defensive response is referred to as "self-justifying, oversensitive, prickly, paranoid, uptight."
Our defenses have protected us since birth and some are necessary for our survival. As we get older, many are no longer needed for our safety, but they can feel so familiar that we continue to let them dictate how we respond, even when they have no purpose. Our fears become so practiced that they feel like a natural part of our personality.
Here's an example of how we defend ourselves. Have you ever found yourself overreacting when you've been criticized? Let's say a man tells you he doesn't like what you're wearing or complains about how you behaved in a situation.
Our fear gets immediately triggered: "I'm not enough" or "I'm wrong." Instinctively we feel attacked and, rather than considering the truth of what was said, we fight back. We perceive their criticism as a threat to our identity and our defenses leap into action. To feel okay, we need to convince him he's wrong.
We become so focused on defending ourselves; we are unaware that what we're really feeling is fear.
It's the same fear you felt as a child when your very survival depended on people loving and accepting you. When fears are triggered we tend to have a knee-jerk reaction and act against our own best interest. The "fight or flight" response kicks in; we fight to hold on to love, or we run away from it.
Until we identify the fears that trigger our defensive behavior we'll be unable to feel safe in our relationships. We'll be on our guard and in a constant state of "alert," unable to feel comfortable and relaxed. Fear crowds out love every time.
The best way to stop our defensive behavior and have successful relationships is to identify our fears and then prove them to be baseless. We need to do the inner work that allows us believe in our value as women. We need to accept that we're not perfect and that everyone is wrong sometimes. We need to find the love for ourselves that no one can shake or take away from us.
As we challenge our fears they will dissipate and loosen their hold. As they recede, our defensiveness will make way for what we've always wanted in our relationships: kindness, acceptance and love.
If you need help releasing your fears, check out my website.
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