When fear enters our lives, it can affect us all. We are perfectly fine the way we are, but sometimes we are pulled into social falsehoods. It can be seen all around us.
Expectations can ruin a relationship, but fear can ruin lives. Fear can invade everything, including relationships.
Fear is the direct opposite of love, and it makes itself known through the form of defensive behaviors. Many people make up for the things they do not have, the “illusion” of inadequacy. They hide a part of themselves because they feel less than perfect and work very hard to convince all those around them that they are okay.
The fact is they are perfectly fine the way they are, but are pulled into a social falsehood. It is seen all around us—people who are poor, overweight, or who do not look like a beauty queen.
These are only a few types of fear that enter our lives. Men are fearful because they are conditioned by society not to show vulnerability. If women feel they are less than a cultural “ideal”—thin and gorgeous—she trembles in her shoes at the prospect of judgment, leading to the ultimate fear—rejection. This climate of social fears casts a pall over most of humanity, even though it manifests itself in many ways.
What exactly is fear of rejection? Like all social activities, there are two actors—the rejecter and the rejected. Nothing like this ever occurs in a vacuum, it is all about context. Similar are most human endeavors: one performs an action, and another is acted upon. Love, hate, war and sex are all variations of the same themes.
All it takes for the act of rejection is one simple statement—“I do not want you.” This starts a chain reaction of complex emotions that take into account all sorts of feelings and thoughts. It can be a crushing reality, especially if there are aspirations of love and romance.
In a perfect world, where people are wholly unto themselves, the rejected would take the statement simply at face value. Acceptance would come with the realization that the rejecter only wishes to spend his or her time elsewhere. No harm, no foul.
It could even be that the two people involved are—in reality—perfect for each other, only the circumstances may not be right…wrong time, wrong place, and right people.
What is necessary in this situation is one thing: acceptance of the rejecter by not taking the statement personally. It is not our fault that we did not fill the requirement they were looking for.
When rejected, it is most often that we perceive that there is something wrong with us. We view ourselves as less than savory, and that it was only a matter of time that these faults were brought to our attention.
For example, one may say, “I like you well enough, but your anger is unacceptable.” Remember, not all accusations are based in fact. You become defensive—and fearful—that what they are saying is the truth!
In fact, people exaggerate and make up stories as to why they do not want to be with you. It is important to use judgment, and you know in your heart what is really true.
There is a more subtle fear that creeps into many relationships. It is often misunderstood, and creates a sense of dependency that can weaken the loving bond.
It is the fear of not being needed.
If you are frail, the need to be needed can turn into clinging. If you are more headstrong, then this fear may trigger you to walk away from the relationship—looking for something or someone else. It is a common yet complex presence in a relationship. It is the source of co-dependency.
Dependency is allowed—even accepted—because it reinforces the desire to be needed. This can be an emotional minefield, and is disturbingly widespread. If one partner sees the other striking out on their own—enjoying their own interests and friends—the other panics and becomes dependent. This is fear taking over—fear of being replaced, abandoned or not loved.
The question becomes… what do you do?
The way to combat this is by loving yourself. Inner love is to let those people have their feelings, and not to be frightened or threatened. Our first reaction is to remove the things that take attention away from us, but this is not love. It is a self-centered and selfish feeling that only goes to chip away at our own self-esteem. And this is the destructive nature of fear.
Relationships are like a jar, which can be filled with either love or fear. When you pour in fear, love spills out. Empty the jar of fear, and love can return and take its rightful place.
The most universal fear is of being alone. Humanity has never been meant to be alone, which makes being alone a primal fear. We crave the company of others, but like other primal fears, it can be quickly distorted.
Fear of being alone is natural, but it becomes irrational if we cling to relationships for this reason alone. A bond that does not serve any higher purpose than fear of being alone is unhealthy. It is similar to staying with an abusive spouse for companionship—at times the bad outweighs the good.
So, now comes the time for the hard questions. What are your fears? Rejection? Solitude?
We all have fears… what counts it is how you handle your fears. It has been said that heroes are no different than ordinary people—they are only braver for a few minutes more than the rest of us.
That is the challenge of life… to understand your fears and remain brave—even if it is for only five minutes longer. It’s a good start.