Do You Choose Love or Fear?

My friend Caroline Watson is the founder and director of an organization called Hua Dan, which uses participatory theater to inspire the full potential in people.

Introduced by a mutual friend and collaborator, Caroline and I did business together, became fast friends, and regularly shared stories of struggles and successes of life in the entrepreneurial trenches. Over the years we’ve been able to share ideas and to push each other to be better in business and in life.

She was the first person who introduced me to the idea of choosing love, not fear. In an attempt to practice being vulnerable in a more public way, she started a blog with the same name.

She spoke beautifully about this to me during our conversations about it in person. And her writing is equally eloquent.

Quite early on in this process I realized that my 60-day writing challenge is as much a challenge to me to write on a daily basis, as it is to be vulnerable in a more public way.

With her permission, I asked if she wouldn’t mind my sharing this as I am with you today.

While there are some excellent posts all over love-not-fear.org (as well as the place where she now blogs more regularly here) I thought it would be appropriate to start from the first page. We can learn a lot from where we begin.

10 Reasons to Date an Entrepreneur was Caroline’s first post and gives such a beautiful account of that sense of possibility mixed with passion, persistence, and partnership.

And, of course, the practice of choosing love, not fear.

Thinking Big was her second post, which discusses the thought process behind the 10 Reasons post – do I keep it or delete it? In it she recognizes that fear still does exist and humanizes the process of battling our fears, reminding us that we are always confronted with the choice.

So this is all well and good. Caroline’s thoughtfully expressed ideas are very moving. They spoke to me then and still speak to me now.

But love is not an academic pursuit, it’s an experiential one.

And even if we know the theory, we don’t always get it right the first time we’re tested.

Think back to the last time you were confronted with an opportunity to choose love over fear.

What did you decide?

What happened?

How did you build on that experience?

What did it mean for the next time?

How are you continuing to build these days?

What will it mean for the next opportunity that comes up?

And while you should certainly start to practice choosing love over fear with the people you are closest with, don’t let it stop there.

What would it mean for your life if you chose love in each and every one of your interactions with yourself and with others?

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and with a bit of extra love in the air, Caroline happened to chose love in a big way to close out 2014. This post is not only about this most important mode of thinking she shared with me, but also to congratulate her for getting married over Christmas.

No, love is not only about something special that exists between two people who tie the knot, but it is a nice way for me to celebrate her, celebrate Alex, and to give them my most sincere congratulations from a land far, far away as we celebrate this day and this month where we celebrate love.

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Our Evolving Status Quo

Last night I wrote about fear.

And there was one particular line in there that sticks with me this morning.

“Why does she prefer the status quo when the power is within her to change?”

Why do any of us prefer to believe that things stay the same when we know that the only constant in life is change?

We’re constantly evolving, As are others. And the world around us too.

So when we define our present by the past and the opportunity for something better stands before us, looking us in the eye, what do we say?

“But we’ve always done it that way.”

Always?

How long is always, anyways?

And what allows us to forget about this only constant?

What allows us to forget that even our “status quo” is evolving?

What would it take for us to believe that change is possible and it will be good?

That today is not yesterday and tomorrow is not today?

Fear is the Root of Your Problems

Have you considered the relationship between procrastination and fear lately?

These days, I’ve been giving “fear” a fair amount of thought. This post is the first that comes to mind from some of my recent writings.

Today I was introduced to Leo Babauta, who writes a great blog called Zen Habits. Click on Leo’s name above, you’ll see he does some other cool stuff too.

The title of this post comes directly from his post, Fear is the Root of Your Problems because I’m not sure it can be said any better.

I linked to Leo based on a conversation that started with the relationship between fear and procrastination. Though this is a connection I’ve made before.

The connection I hadn’t made before, and my larger takeaway from Leo’s post, is that fear isn’t something to be conquered, but to realize that it’s something within us.

In other words, it’s something for us to recognize, understand, and accept about ourselves.

The next time fear arises inside of you, what will you feel, think, do?

Instead of the need to go battle against your fear, what if you joined forces with your “enemy”?

Or what if you let your fear fuel you?

Instead of a need to conquer, how about you chose to coexist, even allow the fear to fuel you?

Where might this take you? Your work? Your relationships with others? And your relationship with yourself?

Leo’s got some terrific suggestions in his post that are worth a gander.

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This evening at dinner I was chatting with a friend about her friend who is going through a challenging time. Family member with cancer. Job down the tubes. No relationship in sight.

All complaining, all the time. No sunshine in sight. And my friend wasn’t exactly sure what she could do for her.

I wondered was causing her to feel and act this way? What was this friend of my friend most fearful of?

I shared with my friend my new learning about fear and my intention to write about it tonight.

She immediately mentioned the way Elizabeth Gilbert talks about fear as something you invite to come along on your journey, but don’t give voting rights to for any decision.

What a beautiful thought. Do you need to read that again?

My friend described her personal fears as this wounded part that needed extra care and attention.

I thought back to this friend of my friend who seems to be having a rough go at it.

It seemed like she was trying to convince my friend – and likely others – that she wasn’t going to make it.

But why?

Why does she prefer the status quo when the power is within her to change?

And if she’s having trouble, help is at her side. What keeps holding her back from moving beyond the pain and the fear?

No matter who we are or however well-adapted or well-equipped to deal with any and everything life throws at us, it seems to me that fear will never really leave us and will always be a part of us.

It’s like a person – one who is a mainstay in our lives. They may come and go, but they are always there. Maybe we like to interact with them, maybe not. But either way, we must. They are a part of our lives.

But how would you choose to interact with them?

And how do you choose to interact with your fear?

Do you try to conquer?

Do you just take away its voting rights?

Or maybe there’s another way?

What role does fear play in the story of your life?

Why choose fear when you can choose love?

No matter where you are or with whom you’re with.

How might a different way of interacting with fear influence your work? Your relationships with others? And your relationship with yourself?