Thursday, November 11, 2010

Move toward love, not away from fear

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about motivation—why we do what we do—and it boils down to two things: love and its opposite, fear.

Fear is reactive; love is creative. Fear comes from a place of lack; love issues from abundance. Fear is exhausting; love is energizing. And perhaps most important, fear is concerned with survival; love is about being alive.

So here’s my encouragement: move toward love, not away from fear.

Notice moment by moment what’s driving your thoughts and behavior. Is it love or fear? Things may look exactly the same on the outside, but the energy, the experience, will be completely different.

Say, for instance, I want to get in shape and I make a resolution to walk for an hour three times a week. Sounds good, right? But why do I want to do this?

Is it so I’ll have the energy to accomplish the things that excite me and make the world a better place? Is it out of respect for the marvelous being that I am? Is it a joyful expression of my strength and power?

Or is it because I’m unsatisfied with who I am? Do I think getting in shape will make me more worthy somehow? Will I transform myself into someone more acceptable than I am right now?

How do you tell whether you’re doing things from love or from fear? One way is to see whether you’re trying to control yourself. If you’re trying to control yourself, you’re operating from fear.

From an early age we’re trained to be afraid of who we are.

I don’t believe babies compare themselves to other babies or have thoughts like “I should be crawling by now. What’s wrong with me?” or “Am I asking too much? I don’t want to be a bother.” or “God, I’m fat! I hate my body.” They just seem to have an endless unselfconscious fascination with the world around them.

As we develop, we are socialized by the giving or withholding of approval and when we are small and dependent, acceptance means survival. Pretty soon, we’ve internalized our trainers and we have an onboard guidance system that asks, “Who do I have to be so that you will love me?”

I have spent much of my life living from the belief that I am not enough. It hasn’t made me a better person. In fact, I would say there isn’t any such thing as a “better person.” Instead, it has been a tremendous obstacle toward experiencing the strength, the truth, the beauty of who I am. How about you?

Starting today, just observe with clarity and compassion what’s motivating you, moment by moment. Don’t resist what you see and don’t try to change it yet. Accept that this is part of being human, part of being you. No need to be afraid of being afraid.

Copyright 2010 Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved