You may have heard the phrase “Fear and love cannot co-exist, it’s one or the other, the choice is up to you”. I’m not exactly sure of the original source, though author Kate McGahan, a pet loss counsellor has been attributed and several others have been quoted along similar lines.
Sometimes the memes and quotes that get reposted and shared on social media leave me scratching my head. Why someone wasted 10 minutes of their time to create a pretty Canva image saying ‘Friyay’ I will never know!
But sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing and really question what I’ve just read.
While it’s fine to share opinions that are based on our own experience, it’s when they are presented as FACTS or spiritual truths, that I start to feel uncomfortable. So to ease my discomfort, here is my alternate ‘opinion’ on whether fear and love can coexist.
Fear: The hot topic of 2020
Fear is a huge topic right now, if not THE topic of 2020. We are literally swimming in a riptide of fear. Everyday for months now we’ve been exposed to images of heavily covered front line workers, suffering patients, dead bodies being transferred for burial, intimidating groups of police or military personal, walking at best, wrestling violently at worst with the general public. They all give a singular message, you should be very afraid right now.
As I’d scroll down the page I’d count; fear based headlines 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 ‘oh here’s one on mental health or rather mental illness in the community’ but no apparent links were made between the state of mental health and the rest of the daily news.
On the other side of the pendulum swing I’ve been bathing in the optimism of the spiritual community. Keeping my vibration high, practising self-care to clear my energy body and focussing my awareness on the type of reality I wish to create.
But for me there is always a middle ground and while it may be anti-spiritual to acknowledge the pain and fear of the collective is within all of us, I feel that dismissing it is somewhat unempathetic and elitist.
We can’t lift others or at least invite them to come with us unless we know where to meet them. And we can’t meet them in fear if we are hovering above and shaming them for being there. Which brings me back to the inherent problem I see in this idea that fear and love cannot coexist.
It’s not good versus evil
The suggestion is that fear is something evil that can be pushed aside by the pure uplifting force of love. It says, you’re not doing right if you’re feeling fear, you’re not trying hard enough to be in Love.
That love is like some wildfire that dominates and burns away everything in its path. And once you’ve mastered this, your life will be one of sunsets over calm ocean views.
I’m choosing to challenge this idea and instead embrace the concept of fear in my life as it coexists WITH love. Like yin and yang, fear and love provide balance and keep us on a trajectory of self-growth.
My experience is that fear is a part of our human existence and it forms a very valid and necessary function. Without fear many of us wouldn’t have survived this far. Fear is what heightens your senses and gets you moving away from danger. Fear is what helps you realise the value of what and who you love in your life and find ways to protect that. Fear is what drives a lot of our behaviour and that’s not bad in itself, it’s what you do with it that can be helpful or harmful.
I experience FEAR and LOVE on a daily basis, sometimes in the same heartbeat on the same issue and I hold space for both.
We need to listen to fear
My feeling is that if we spiritually bypass fear and strive for love with blinkers on, we miss all that hides in the shadows of the fear we are not willing to acknowledge.
And mostly fear tells us that something is wrong.
If we shut this down and refuse to look at fear then we shut down the capacity to examine what’s not working and how we can fix it.
Right now at this moment in history we need to acknowledge what’s no longer working and fix it. We need to look fear in the eye and stare it down until the fierce saber tooth tiger becomes just a cat. If we keep turning away, we miss the opportunity to really examine this fear and where it’s coming from.
My suspicion is that it’s the death throes of a patriarchal system that no longer serves us. One that’s told us to stay small, to listen, do as told and be good in order to feel safe. A system that wants us shutting down, dissociating from our bodies, hiding under our labels of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. A system that feeds us lies for the purpose of control.
New ways to approach fear
The trick is to acknowledge our fear but not to buy into it as a way of Being. When we reside in fear, everything contracts on all levels; physical, emotional and energetic. And in this state of contraction and pulling inwards we’ve lost our capacity to be open to the creative flow of the universe which is where the best solutions for our problems lie.
If fear were a place it would be a tent site not a permanent structure with concrete foundations. It’s a state to pass through, to feel and recognise and work with but ultimately transcend until the next time you meet with it. There will be a next time.
To have a human experience without fear is to live with a pathology so disabling that it would impact your ability to connect with others and your ability to love.
We need both fear and love and they will forever coexist but as we evolve, our ability to move through fear with more trust and awareness will allow it to be a functional part of our journey.
To return to the analogy of a riptide of fear. Love is not the shoreline, a place where we are free from danger and can feel completely safe. Love is the ocean, the air and the earth. We are immersed in it all of the time, whether we know it or not. Even when we are swimming against the rip we are held by love, it hasn’t abandoned us. All we need do is surrender, go with the movement until it dissipates and we are free to swim back to shore.
In this way we need not conquer fear, banish it or outgrow it. We can learn to feel it, ask it to show us what’s wrong, what’s not working and then surrender into the expansive space of creative problem solving. All the while being in Love.