I recently posted this to the Your Courageous Life Facebook community: “How you relate to your fear teaches you where you stop short of showing others your love.”

A few lovelies in the community said: “Tell me more about that!” and naturally, I aim to please.

Fear is not a comfortable experience for anyone (anyone I’ve ever met, anyway). In dealing with that discomfort, we all relate to our fear in different ways.

  • Some of us hate it and want to tell it to fuck off.
  • Some of us knuckle under to it, feeling controlled by it, while resenting that it exists.
  • Some of us avoid it as much as possible through every imaginable avenue of denial, pretending not to experience it while immersing oneself in every possible distraction.

There are other options for how to relate to fear. The point is that there are parallels, here. How we treat the experience of fear itself, when it arises in the body and when the Stories crop up in our thought processes, mirrors how we react to the people we love.

In that way, how you relate to your fear shows you where you stop short of showing others your love.

Creating Better Relationships

If you sincerely desire to create more loving relationships in your life, more connection, more happiness and fulfillment, then look at what gets in the way: fear.

Then look at what you put in the way, yourself: your response to fear.

Fear arises naturally, when confronted with challenges and situations that feel new or vulnerable. What you do with it becomes your experience of life.

If I want to love my husband, sister, partner, brother, mother, boss, co-worker, neighbor or the guy who just cut me off in traffic, it would do me well to see where I draw the line with being willing to love my fear. Wherever I’m unwilling to love the parts of me that are hard to be with, I’m drawing a line and saying, “I’m unwilling to love the parts of YOU that are harder to be with.”

Love Your Fear

Love your fear, Kate? you might be thinking. That sounds crazy!

Well, let’s get a little crazy. Love your fear. It certainly could use it, couldn’t it? Is there any part of you that needs more love, than that? Have you ever seen a detriment to offering love and compassion to anything or anyone in the world that is sorely in need of it?

By the way, we don’t need to confuse love with “do whatever the other person wants, even when it doesn’t feel right, to me.”

  • You can love your fear, without doing what it says.
  • You can love your relatives or in-laws or ex-husband, without agreeing with what they do.
  • You can love people of the opposite political persuasion, without voting for them.
  • You can love anyone in the world, while also making the choice to limit contact with them and not choose to be in the same room with them.

The practice of love and and the decision to agree or disagree, or to take a particular course of action, is not inherently linked.

This, by the way, is incredible courage: to know yourself well enough to say, “I’m going to prioritize what matters most to me, while also giving you a healthy ‘no.’ ”

Click to tweet: Fear is actually the call to love bigger, not to shrink within.

Fear-Courage Connection Exercise

I call this the “fear-courage connection to everything you want in life” because whether you’re going for the tangible or intangible, how you react to fear dictates what choices you make and how smoothly getting what you want in life actually goes.

So ask yourself: What is something I’ve long wanted in my life, that has long eluded me?

Then ask yourself: What are my habitual reactions to fear?

Now connect the dots: Is there a relationship between how I treat my fear, and where I stop short of really finding my way to this thing that I’ve long desired?

Finally, ask yourself one more question: What would courage choose?

(This is a double-sided question, really. You’re really asking, “What would love choose?”).

Your fear doesn’t have to go away, or not exist, for you to make this connection and step into more of everything you want in your life. You can drop whatever energy has been exhausting you–because boy, does avoiding fear, or hating fear, or distracting from fear become exhausting.

The practice of courage doesn’t start on the day when your fear is long gone. It starts now. Today. Whenever you want it. Dive in.