Many years ago, someone said to me: “Hate is not the opposite of love, it is fear.” That idea stuck with me, and continues to drive my beliefs to this day. It makes perfect sense. If to love is to extend, share, give, possibly sacrifice and generally move outwards, then fear paralyzes, contracts, causes us to avoid things, protect ourselves and generally keep the status quo, even when we know our growth requires we move beyond it. Most fear is a complete illusion of our own making, or if you would like, False Evidence Appearing Real.
Anything we fear, whether it be a fear of flying, fear of communication with another person, fear of a confrontation – it is only our mind spinning. And since it is not rooted in the moment but projected by us into the future (which also does not exist) we can’t really address or affect it in any real way. The only way to eradicate fear or pain is to sit in it and move through it. There is always light on the other side. Unfortunately, one cannot get to this light by taking a circuitous route and moving around the fear – the only option is to go through it. There have been times when I have dreaded a particular conversation and imagined the worst-case scenario and all of the potentialities and negative consequences of having the uncomfortable conversation. The majority of the time, the end result is not only 10 times easier than I had imagined it would be, but it has also carries an extra gem of light or surprise in it, which I never would have found and experienced had I not moved through the fear.
Another great fear that keeps many of us stuck is the fear of change, which is most definitely a universal fear. At the root level, we both desire change and fear it. We desire it because we know that there often needs to be change in order to grow – but the fear keeps us stuck because we are dealing with an unknown variable. We know we must change for our growth, but we still project an illusion full of “what-ifs” and countless negative scenarios, none of them real and yet all of them keeping us stuck from progressing to the next level of our development or happiness.
I was on the phone recently with a woman who studied with Ken Wilber at the Integral Institute and we were discussing change and transition. The energy of change is affecting many right now, some voluntarily, some not so voluntarily. Whether it is initially welcomed or not, it seems that it always takes us exactly where we need to be, so whether we may not see it now, the universe has our back.
I asked her “If we both desire and fear change, what about those who move towards change in spite of their fear? Does the change they fear ever take someone backwards or end up a mistake?” Her response: “I’ve worked with thousands of people going through work and life transitions, many of whom were scared and unsure about the shake-up and unknowns they would be moving through as a result of their courage. Not one of these people has said to me, ‘I’m sorry that I got what I wanted.’ “ And there you have it. In order to get what we want and deserve, it often requires our moving straight into this fear to reach the light or desire on the other side. It’s almost like a test.
When we state to the universe that we want something like a new career path, a new situation, a new relationship – it is as if an obstacle course is set before us to say, “Ok, how badly do you want this? You are going to have to move through these levels to find the gift at the end.” And I think that’s what she was saying. Fear of change is natural, but is one of the dues we have to pay to get to the gift. And the beauty of fear is that, most of it was all in our imagination anyway. I truly believe that the universe supports and provides for what we want; once we state an intention and move through the fear we have fought half the battle. Change almost always occurs to put us in greater alignment of who we are; to fight it is natural, but usually not in our best interests. What is waiting on the other side is usually much greater than anything we could have imagined for ourselves.