You don't have to live stressed out and exhausted.
You decide to empty the dishwasher AGAIN.
Acting out of Love: Your attitude is peaceful and calm. You love giving back to your family and even if they might not appreciate it all the time, this is a way you show them how much they mean to you. However, you decide that maybe it is time for your kids to step up and start doing this more so they can learn responsibility and caring for themselves. You make a mental note to talk to them about it.
Acting out of Fear: You do it, but you are bitter and angry the whole time. You motivation comes more from ‘getting one up’, or ‘feeling like a martyr’ then love. The act LOOKS loving but buried way down (or maybe not even way down) is fear. You are acting out your fear of not being good enough, ‘they won’t love me unless I DO something for them’ or ‘I have to prove my worthiness by doing’.
You stay late at work to respond to your bosses’ last minute request (which of course needed to be done yesterday)
Acting out of Love: You recognize, your boss is behind the gun too from his boss and although he might not have the best leadership skills he is doing the best he can with what he has. You offer a silent blessing for him and finish up our work as quickly as possible. You realize that for the most part you like your job and these last minute things are easy to over look in the grand scheme of things. OR you realize it is time to start looking for another job because even though you can understand why everything is last minute you just don’t work well in this environment.
Acting out of Fear: You angrily start working on the job. You finish the task and leave the office still steaming. The minute you get home you pick a fight with your partner because you really want to tear your bosses head off but your partner is more forgiving. Your fear is ‘what if I am not good enough to find another job’ or ‘what if this is the best I can do’.
Your mom calls you and starts telling you the same story for the millionth time.
Acting out of Love: You recognize she loves telling stores and she loves sharing her stories with you. You realize that even though you are busy and tired you are lucky to have a mom who wants to share so much of her life with you. You take a deep breath and try to listen as if it were the first time you heard it. You approach the story with new curiosity and actually enjoy it. If it really is a bad time you ask if you can call her back and then you really do!!
Acting out of Fear: You half/listen to the story rolling your eyes and mimicking her. You cut her off as soon as possible with a quick “yes mom I have heard this story before”. You know you hurt her feelings but you are just too busy to deal with this. You fear “maybe someday I will drive my kids crazy with my stories too” or “I am scared that I am going to lose mom before I am ready”
When we act out of love we are coming from a place of openness and peace. We are more grounded and honest. It doesn’t mean we are victims or take rude behavior, it means that we take the time to understand the ‘other’ person’s perspective. Rather than immediately going in to blame or resentment we pull back a bit to get a bigger picture.
When we act of out fear we are closed and shallow. We are in a self protect mode and therefore tend to lash out at others and ourselves.
Fear is a tricky beast. Frequently our egos don’t want us to acknowledge the fear. So our ego throws up the smoke screen of blame and resentment to prevent us from going deeper. Rather than looking at what we might be afraid of in that moment we immediately blame the ‘other’ for all our problems.
Bottom line–fears are scary. We don’t want to acknowledge them and it is against our nature to do so. AND as we get in the habit of being honest with ourselves and living from a place of love and not fear life becomes so much easier and happier. Carrying around all that bitterness and resentment is wearing and exhausting!!
So for today as you approach the decisions of your life ask yourself am I acting from a place of fear or love? If the answer is fear dig a little deeper and ask yourself what am I really afraid of here? And then give yourself some loving support around that fear. Fears are normal. Unacknowledged fear is toxic.
Photo Credit: Kevin Shorter via flickr