Counteracting Fear With Love
I could hear the panic in her voice.
The underlying message that essentially told me, “You’re not going to be able to make this work.”
It was a familiar scene for my Mother and me. I was sharing something I was considering doing and she was spinning me all the ways it could possibly go wrong.
The old Natalie would fly into a fit of anger at her comments or desperately try to argue or prove to her that I was correct. It was a tiring interaction to have over and over again with a family member.
This time was different though, because I was able to immediately discern that her comments had nothing to do with me personally, they were simply coming from her own fears and views about the world and how to earn money.
Fear is such an isolating emotion to deal with on a personal level that it often goes unrecognised or becomes misunderstood when we encounter it in others.
We mistake it for anger, irritation, rudeness or cruelty, but if we are able to give a conversation time and space, we can see that something that might have upset us was really just about the other person projecting their fears onto us and about how we were interpreting all of that.
What lies beneath fear is usually something even more confusing; sadness, abandonment, a longing for love. Human beings project their fears outwards when they are worried they’ll be left behind, and none of us, no matter how much we pretend otherwise, really want to be left behind.
My Mum especially doesn’t want to be left behind. She has admitted to me that she feels she has lost control over my Brother and I, and that if she can’t control some of the things that are going on in our lives she feels a huge sense of purposelessness. My Mum knows this is ridiculous of course, but all she’s ever known how to do is worry about us. She, like so many Mothers of a certain generation, wasn’t shown another way, and she wasn’t shown how to give, receive and reflect unconditional love.
So in that moment when she was panicking and seemingly forgetting that a job isn’t the only way to earn a living, and that I had run a business before, I had a choice.…
I could be offended by her limited way of viewing my abilities, internalise my frustration and walk away, or I could choose love.
“I can hear the panic in your voice Mum, but it’s going to be ok.” I squeezed her arm and smiled and this time, she smiled right back.
“I just don’t want you to struggle and not have the things you need again,” she reminded me.
I also decided that this was where our conversation was going to end, because sometimes not telling your parents everything is a much healthier way of being in relationship with them.
This was one of the most loving interactions I had experienced with my Mum in a long time, all because I counteracted her projection of fear with love.
Instead of reflecting her fear right back to her, which would have only made things worse, I just dropped into love and the tension in that entire moment was gone.
Her argument dissolved.
Her worries crumbled.
Because I reminded her that I’m not a little girl anymore, as much as she would like me to be, the power she was trying to exert over me disappeared.
She got to stay in her lane and me in mine, and our escalated and frustrated way of interacting with one another was suddenly a thing of the past.
I realise that choosing a higher vibration thought than the other person isn’t always easy, especially when there are a million other factors pulling us around during our busy days, but it’s most certainly the loving thing to do when there is uncertainty.
There will always be worry.
Things may not always work out, just as my Mum was attempting to predict.
But these days, I am trying to remember where my fear has lead me before, and it’s never been anywhere good.
Love on the other hand, love is taking me to places I never expected, creating moments I never thought I could have, and opening doors in my mind that I assumed I didn’t deserve the key to.
So the next time someone jumps in with a well-meaning but awkward comment that’s coming from their own personal fear, can you stop, take a breath and ask, “What would love do instead?”