Have you ever had fears in love- fear of not being single forever, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment?
The following is an excerpt from Rebekah Freedom McClaskey’s book Breakup Rehab: Create the Love You Want on how to overcome your fears in love.
To face your fears is nothing short of courageous.
It’s brave to work to bridge the gap between you and another person by choosing to surrender to love. It’s brave to stand in the gap and close the door to a life you were wishing for. Facing your fears simply means allowing love to be your guide.
Our fear of loss, punishment, or pain can inform our choices.
When I was seventeen, my father sternly told me, “If you get pregnant, don’t come home.” His words freaked me out so much that they influenced my choice to not have sex until I was twenty-two. Then I did have sex, and I liked it. I fondly refer to my twenties as my slut years, and I’m glad I had them.
(We’ll talk about sex a little later. What is your relationship to it? Are you afraid of it? Do you feel connected through it? What is your relationship to your body and your orgasms? I mention it here because our sex life is one of the biggest places we hide our fears and act them out. Let’s give that some space to air out. For now, think about all the ways your fears inform the things you choose.)
I can think of a grip of things I did in the last week because of fear.
I work out because I’m afraid if I don’t get abs I’ll never find love. I avoid doing accounting because that means I have to actually learn about money and not rely on the manifestation fairies to whisk me away to the land of milk and honey. I wonder what would happen if I did my own accounting?
Anyway, how is fear driving you? What are you running toward or away from?
Here is a list of the possible ways that fear runs the show:
I wanted to make the other person happy (so that I will feel safe).
I needed to get laid (to feel desirable).
I wanted approval (so I can go on with life).
I wanted to fit in (because I don’t know if I matter).
I needed the money (to be significant).
I like to help (because I can’t receive).
Fear is about survival.
It’s instinctual to want to belong, be recognized, be loved, be valued, be heard, be seen, and be treated with respect. The thing is, our hunger — the beast within — will take what it can get if we let it starve for too long. It’s always roaming and searching for its next meal as a means of survival.
I’m not going to tell you facing your fears is easy. But it’s worth it.
How can you feel safe now that you’re on your own? What can you do to protect yourself ? How can you have faith that you’re worthy of getting what you need? Face it. Ask the hard questions. Do your accounting.
The path to love has not been perfect. That’s okay.
I’m proud of you for trying. You’ve come so far. You’re still here. Good job. Keep going.
That is largely what it takes to face your fears. Never back down. Face your fears and name them. Listen to what they’re telling you about your needs. What hungers are they expressing? Trace them to their origin and set them free by saying, “I no longer need you in the way I did before.” But let’s really ground this because I know that when I’m reading this type of book I just want someone to tell me what to do.
This was me when I was going through my breakups:
Should I text him now or later? If so, what do I send? I’ll just wait. I’ll just get on Facebook — oh shit! There is a picture of him with someone else. Ouch! I’m going to call Sherri. She’ll know what to do....Well, that didn’t help. She just told me to meditate. Now what do I do? Who do I talk to? How do I fix this?
I get it. In no uncertain terms, here is what to do.
Push your big toes into the floor — do this barefoot if you can. Take a deep breath. Now inhale and look to your left. Exhale and look to your right. Keep pushing your feet into the floor with extra pressure on your big toes. Keep slowly swiveling your head to the right and left until you feel a sense of relief start to wash over your body. You can do this anytime a feeling of anxiety, fear, dread, remorse, longing, anger, rage, despondence, revenge, or sadness arises.
Second, don’t text, email, snapchat, or send any communication over digital media. Just put it all in a journal.
Don’t put it in a journal, take a picture of it, and then text it. Just write down what you want to say. That’s for you. Breakups happen for a reason. The relationship and the breakup were meant to be — both are equally important to your growth.
Third, as my friend Sherri would tell me to do, meditate.
I hate it when I hear this because I just like to get amped on coffee and distract myself with other people’s lives. But seriously, go sit down on a cushion with your legs in a relaxed position, support your back if needed, and close your eyes and breathe. Bring your attention to the breath at the tip of your nose. Then breathe. Your thoughts will radiate off you like heat off asphalt in a Texas summer. As you notice them, bring your attention back to your breathing.
This sucks, I know. I bet you still just want to fix it. Well, remember that fear is urgent. Love is patient. The challenge is in how we communicate love instead of fear.
Fear makes us gullible.
It makes us feel “less than.” It sends our mind into a tailspin. We need healthy relationships in our lives. We need mentors and tools to teach us about courage, and there are some great examples out there. Who inspires you to be a better person? Hopefully, in addition to whomever you thought of, you also answered, “me.” (“Me” as in “you” — but I’ll take a bow.) How do you love?
One of the great tools of our time is the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
This simple rubric helps us identify how we express and interpret love. When I first learned of the love languages I thought the most interesting fact is that we often express how we love someone by how we want to be loved. If I know I’m loved by being given gifts, I often give gifts to show my love. But — and this is a big one — that is most likely not going to be how our mate wants to be loved.
Therefore a major step in facing our fears with love is to have a service-oriented mind.
Remember, once we’re willing to give love, we soon recognize that we’re surrounded by love and it was only our fears that made us feel as if we didn’t have access to it.
Asking how you can be of service to your opposite doesn’t mean you’re a servant or that you lose your voice in order to please another person. It means that you take time to consider another person’s point of view.
As a word of caution, it takes time to decode how someone feels about you via their actions. The deep pangs of starvation for connection we all feel can cloud our ability to be considerate. Instead, we take the stance, “Get it while you can.” I’ve taken that stance. I’m not saying you should do that, but you might. Because I care about you, I’m giving you a gentle warning. Being in a rush doesn’t really work out for the best.
Love can’t be rushed. Learning to love takes time.
It’s new every time you meet a different person. Also, the psychotherapist Esther Perel has said, “Some people will have two or three marriages in their lives. Sometimes it will be to the same person.”
Love gives us room to grow. Fear, not so much.
Love needs to be fostered. Lust just wants what it wants now. I know a handful of people who will fall in love with a picture of a person, make up a story about how wonderful life would be with them, and then carry on a texting relationship with them for months. Fear can fuel lust. “It’s now or never.” “You’ll never get another chance.” “That’s as good as it gets.”
An online relationship is not a real relationship. I know that is harsh to say. But healthy relationships require human interaction, intimacy, a balance of togetherness and time apart, and commitment. Anyone can have a relationship with a computer. Some dating sites have even built in code that masquerades as actual women seeking relationships. People fall for it.
You’re courageous enough to face your fears of being lost, lonely, too much, not enough, the cat lady, the outcast, or whatever it is you’re fearing today. Fears are just smoke and mirrors anyway in this magic show called life. You’re the master magician.
About the author
Rebekah Freedom McClaskey is the author of Breakup Rehab: Create the Love You Want. A relationship specialist with a master’s degree in counseling psychology, her private practice focuses on helping clients get what they want out of life and love. She lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
Visit her online at www.rebekahfreedom.com.