A Response to Fear and Loving in an Uncertain World

From Fear and Loving in an Uncertain World:

“My fears may be realized. It is something I cannot predict.  I know, however, that my best chance at joy lies in giving love without letting the fear that it won’t be returned close me off.  My major task in an uncertain world is feeling and giving the fullest measure of love I can manage.  I actively cultivate this style of loving and aim to get better at it every day.”

Response: I’m undecided on this… I understand what you’re saying… but without expecting that return, you can allow others to take you for granted…

Mind Crush:  Yes, we’ve had this discussion before.  We can’t confuse loving with pleasing or consistently elevating someone else’s needs over our own.  Seeing our needs as equal and managing the ways in which they may conflict in an active way is an important relationship skill (for all our relationships not just romantic ones).  We have to know how to hold our needs as equal to others’ yet respond out of love and not out of fear that our needs may not be met or resentment that they have gone unmet.

What does “loving without the fear that it won’t be returned” really mean?  Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.  It does not mean that I will do whatever you want; it does not mean that my job is to satisfy you at the expense of self-care.  I don’t think it has anything to do with being a doormat.  And so, you can only continue to take advantage of me if I allow it (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…).  I would argue that the most loving thing you can do for someone is never ever to let them take advantage of you or any one else.  To know this, you must understand that taking advantage of people hurts them too (even if they don’t care about the ways in which it hurts them).   (more…)

Fear and Loving in an Uncertain World

Intimate with Fear Redux

I awoke with a start, instantly alert
Heart pumping, pupils dilated scanning
Still dark and deep quiet disconcerts
Fear perches between my dreams and awakening

Here we sit, the fear that knows my fears
The piercing eye and judging hand take steady aim
On hopes and loves, and all that matters, and new frontiers
Disheartened by praise then blame, malaise and shame

Unexpectedly, instead of hiding, I turn to embrace
Without need for words nor charm nor deflecting gaze
I accept my fear, uncertain is even the worst case
Life has sharp edges, living fully cuts both ways

Fear limits the love you can share.  Fear limits the love you can accept.  Whereas fear limits, love expands.  Where fear pulls us back, love draws us closer.  Where fear sees risks, love sees possibilities.  I don’t mean to imply that they are opposites or mirror each other.  The absence of fear doesn’t equal the presence of love.  It is perhaps better to think of fear as being an unsupportive condition for the growth of love.  In spite of its significant dangers, fear is a valuable and frequent human emotion. There’s a pretty big difference between the useful kind of fear (like the spike we get when we see a large bear at the edge of our camp site) from the fear that gets triggered by the emotional traumas that we carry with us from our past.  John Gottman calls the latter enduring vulnerabilities.  Unfortunately, we confuse the two in everyday life. (more…)