Several years ago, there used to be a show on called Fear Factor. Every week, the host would have several contestants on, that would face up to some of their greatest fears around bugs, creatures, and creepy things. They would lay in beds of snakes, eat and drink gross combinations, and expose themselves to some of their worst nightmares. All of the fears that they had on the inside were brought to life in their outside world, and they had to make a choice on how to handle it.
It got me thinking about fear and where it really exists. We grow up thinking, believing, because we are taught in this way, that what we need to be afraid of exists outside of ourselves: the dark; strangers; war; disease. But what I have really come to understand is that any fears that we have exist inside ourselves. Those are the fears that truly destroy us, not what we think we need to be afraid of in our outside world.
Fears that I harbor inside myself, even though I am facing them more consistently, are fears of being alone; of being forgotten; of not being loved or having love in my life. Fear that I will never be or have enough to be taken care of. Fear of death. Fear of truly being myself in the world.
When it comes to relationships that we create in our lives, they are mostly based in fear, not in love. Now, you may dispute this statement, and claim that the relationships that you participate in are about love more than fear. You may be right. Yet I know in my lifetime, I have often had a larger portion of my relationship be based on fears I had within myself, then truly loving myself. The same ones that still ring true for me today, about being alone, dying, not being loved, and not being enough.
I understand now, although often a challenge to bring to fruition, that I need to do two things, as often as possible. First, I need to love myself, first and foremost, as fully and openly as possible. For if I don’t have love for myself, there is no way that I can love, respect, or honor anyone else in my life, friend or stranger.
The other thing that I need to do is to keep remembering that fear exists inside of me. And, although it does not have to rule me, or dictate my actions in the world, I can be aware of it, and face it head on at every turn. There are days when I feel up to that, and days when I don’t. But, the more that I stand in love of who I am, the more often that I celebrate who I see when I look in the mirror, then the softer those fearful voices in my head become.