The two primary motivations in life are fear and love. We make decisions and practice relationships based on either running away from or running toward challenges we face. What we find helpful are very specific and practical ways to differentiate between reactions of fear and love, in order that our thoughts, feelings and behaviors will be less fear-based and more love-based.
Fear is defined as an unpleasant and often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. Fear is commonly accompanied by a loss of courage. It is this loss of courage that causes us to run from the expectation of danger. A definition of love is an unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. Love is the choice to put the good of someone else first, especially above your own comfort or desires.
You may find yourself moving back and forth between both fear and love at the same time.
Being loved in this way reminds us we have worth and value, and that we are not alone.
God, our extended and immediate family, close friends and even loved ones who have preceded us in death are with us and inspire us infusing us with courage. Surrounded by and linking arms with those who love us, we find renewed courage once chased away by fear, to run toward the expectation of danger.
Note the characteristics below of fear and love-based reactions to adversity.
Fear-Based Reactions to Adversity
- Worst-case scenario thinking
- Offering maximum headspace to fear
- Sharing fear-based thoughts without a filter
- Experiencing fear-based emotions
- Making fear-based decisions
Love-Based Reactions to Adversity
- Balanced scenario thinking
- Increasing headspace to love-based ideas
- Speaking love-based thoughts freely
- Experiencing love-based emotions
- Making love-based decisions
Fear and love-based thoughts, feelings and behaviors shape our experience of life. As you read the examples below consider how often you experience each one, and how the love of those around you can stimulate you to a greater focus on living a love-based life.
- Good does not exist in culture
- Culture intends evil toward me personally
- Evil is predominant in culture
- Evil will always affect my life in negative ways
- *Evil is present, personal, pervasive & permanent
- Good exists in all manifestations of culture
- Culture intends good things for me personally
- Good is everywhere in culture
- Good will always affect my life in positive ways
- *Good is present, personal, pervasive & permanent
- Anxiety, panic, worry, stress
- Alone, helpless, hopeless, doom
- Impatience, inability to focus, agitation, irritation
- Loss, lack of control of any kind
- Inability to cope with discomfort or pain
- Comfort, calm, trust, coherence
- Not alone, hope, resourced, favorable future
- Patience, focus, understanding, empathy
- Loss, acceptance of what I do and do not control
- Resources helping me cope with discomfort or pain
- Outbursts of impatience or anger
- Arguing, win/lose communication
- Unbalanced focus on the negative
- Emotion-driven reactions and responses
- Pessimism, inability to decide, give up and quit
- Empathetic responses
- Understand/Be understood communication
- Balanced focus on the positive
- Thoughtful and measured action and reaction
- Active optimism, decisive action, tenacity
Along the continuum of life, when you are faced with everything from an economic adversity in life to the excruciating pain of losing a loved one to death, your response will be to either run away from the painful experience, or to run toward the challenge.
It is the love surrounding you in this moment that will fuel your decision to stand in the face of struggle, and help you win. You are not a victim. You do not have to surrender. You can stand and fight.
When fear rushes in, pause to breathe, a little slower and a little more deeply than normal. As your body begins to relax, choose to focus your thoughts on images that create appreciation, joy, happiness, peace and past successes. Bring to the forefront of your mind, all the sources of love in your life allowing them to permeate your thinking – the beginning of being love-based.
You have at your disposal, power and strength to overcome adversity that you have no idea exists. Whether you’ve lived in fear your entire life, or something recent has overtaken you and threatens your very survival, the power of love is alive and well in and around you. You are not alone, and you will find your way through this challenge.