Beyond Mindfulness | English  | Fear and love
Blog: Angst en liefde

Fear and love

I recently came across a beautiful quote: “There are only two emotions – fear and love. Choose love.” Fear and love can be closely intertwined. During the past delightful week with my family (comprising my sister, my nephews, her husband, and my parents), I observed this. I found myself emotionally wanting to hold on to my nephews. It felt as if they were the bearers of happiness, though I know that’s not how it works. I understand that they are merely triggers for joy and love. Love and happiness reside within us and never come from another.

Fear can sabotage love. We want to keep love (and the associated object, situation, or person) with us, never letting go. But that’s not how it works. And when we feel fearful, we want to escape it, returning to a pleasant feeling, preferably a feeling of love. Yet, even that doesn’t work that way. States of fear and love come and go. We have no control over them. The best approach is to accept that both are part of life and flow with them. The more we allow space for happiness, contentment, and love within us, the better. Learn to live with what is, automatically increasing our enjoyment of love (in all its forms) and teaching us to let fear be. To allow fear.

This blog delves into fear and love, my personal experiences, how the mechanism works, and offers tips and videos on dealing with fear and love.

The Ripple Effect

I try to navigate these things not just for myself but, in a sense, for all of us. It sounds grandiose, but every step closer to happiness has an impact on our surroundings. Like ripples from a stone touching water, affecting everything around it. In your work, with your family and friends, even a brief chat at the bakery can make a significant difference. It’s about relaxing into yourself and being spontaneously true to yourself, rather than trying too hard. Trust that your natural state already resides in peace and contentment. Dare to follow the flow of life. Perhaps even more daringly, dare to express it.

Letting Happiness Spontaneously Arise

I find it useful to practice this on small moments during the day. Buying something for the street vendor at the supermarket. Offering an unexpected compliment. Having a conversation with a colleague going through a tough time. But sometimes it doesn’t happen; you’re tired and just want to go home. That’s okay too. Don’t force it, but feel that (gentle) impulse to express more of yourself. Giving without expectations can have unexpectedly beautiful effects, both for the giver and the receiver.

Happiness is Within You

Sometimes it seems like something or someone is responsible for the happiness you experience, but it’s a trigger. I experienced this recently with my nephew, who held my hand for a long time and, in such an open and honest way (as only a 6 (almost 7!) year old can), shared what was on his mind. After spending a week with my sister, her husband, and her children (they normally live in Switzerland), it was a significant adjustment. I know that happiness is within us, but in that moment, it doesn’t feel that way. It truly felt like the other person brings you happiness.


That was a moment to reflect on. To sit with it for a while. My conclusion is that there are moments when we feel so safe and can be ourselves so much that happiness naturally arises. Children can bring this out in us like no other. We get out of our heads and into the present moment. The only place where happiness resides and where (young) children spend much of their time. Happiness is never found in thinking about the past and the future.

Fear and Love in Romantic Relationships

In a romantic relationship, something similar happens. You feel so good with the other person that your natural state can emerge. We often feel this in our bodies as happiness, contentment, and/or peace. Our reaction is to hold on. I never want to lose this happiness! However, this approach undermines happiness and love. We try to hold onto something, while the foundation of life is change. In short, it’s impossible. If we try, we will eventually be disappointed.

Happiness is in Everything and Yet in Nothing

Also interesting is that a similar happiness arises when I am alone. When I write, take a beautiful beach walk, or simply enjoy the sun. In short, happiness is in everything and yet in nothing. It comes and goes. So, enjoy the beautiful moments and accept the difficult ones. Eckhart Tolle beautifully addresses our ‘neediness’ in the video.

Peeking Behind the Curtain of Thought

In essence, see that everything in life (even your nephews, your children, or your loved one) is merely a trigger for happiness. The interesting part is that you (at least I do) start to see that happiness has always been there, within us. Esteemed teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Rupert Spira, Adyashanti, the Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard invite us to peek behind the curtain of thought. To let go of thinking and live more with what is now. This involves facing our challenges and daring to be with what is. The beautiful and the less beautiful. This allows happiness to arise more and more naturally. So, you actually don’t have to do anything but let go of resistance. Stop searching for something better. Perhaps even see that, in essence, you are that which allows everything to move freely. You are that accepting, present, and open space where nothing is held back and nothing is clung to. Want to read more about this? Check out this blog or click here to understand more about fear and love.

The Game of Hope and Fear, the Game of Fear and Love

I try not to tackle these things just for myself but, in a way, for all of us. It’s amusing how the more I connect with my own vulnerabilities, the more they become the topics of my conversations. I find it fascinating to see how we get stuck in relationships, unconsciously choose partners who only feed our pain in the long run, and how we can wander for years (decades) in this game of hope and fear. I recognize the pain and the seductive power that fear can play in love. But recognizing it and looking at it without judgment already makes a significant difference. See that we’re all in the same boat, albeit manifesting differently in each person. The book of Jan Geurtz ‘addicted to love’ about love (and fear) I can highly recommend.

Fear and Love in Romantic Relationships

By the way, if you think this is a small group; think again. Recent estimates suggest that just under half might be insecurely attached, and for them, fear plays a significant role in their romantic relationships. The book “Attached” beautifully discusses attachment and love, along with the numerous studies conducted in this field.

Fear and Love, and Tips on Dealing with Them:

Whether you’ve been married for years, are single, or have just started living together, it’s present in all relationships. Only the behavior on the outside is a bit different for everyone. Below are various tips to overcome fear in love:

  1. Stop running away from your pain, hoping that a loved one can alleviate your absence, and most importantly, stop running away from yourself.
  2. Stand firm, like a brave warrior, in the midst of a storm of intense emotions. Don’t run away; instead, look at them with compassion and do something to support yourself rather than condemn yourself.
  3. Have compassion for yourself in those difficult moments. Take care of yourself as you would for a good friend. Know that literally, at the same moment fear paralyzes you in love, millions of people on this planet are experiencing something similar and/or have experienced it. Connect yourself with this shared humanity instead of feeling ashamed that you feel this way.
  4. Dare to experience your feelings physically (meditation is a beautiful way for this), let them in, and let them rest in the vast blue sky that you are.
  5. See fear and difficult moments as an opportunity for growth and happiness. Look back, once the storm has subsided, at what you had to learn from it.

Fear and Love are Sometimes So Close

Sometimes fear and love are so close. Try to distinguish them and choose love without fighting fear. Fear is part of our lives and helps us (evolutionarily) survive. See when fear has a useful function and when it doesn’t. Learn to relax in the tension. In short, the fear and uncertainties in love are not the problem. Seeing it as a problem makes it a problem. If you can relax in fear and uncertainty, it’s nothing more than a physical sensation that feels a bit less pleasant.

The Feeling of Fear is Not the Obstacle, but Our Belief in It Is

Recognize that you have fear but are not the fear. See that in this moment, alongside that painful/fearful feeling, that you are also experiencing other things. Connect with that broader space around the feeling of fear. You are that space. See and feel that.

Feel the fear but do what your heart guides you to do. Locate the fear in your body and accept that it’s there. Dare to act with that fear—approach the unknown person at a party, engage in the conversation (conflict) if something is unjust, or speak up in an important meeting. Do all these things and take your fear with you.

Read books, attend workshops, talk about it with friends, and gradually understand more about how the system (especially in love) works.

Fear of commitment and Jim Carry about love

A while ago, I wrote a specific blog about the fear of commitment if you want to read more about it. And I also loved listening to these inspiring words from actor Jim Carrey on love.

Good luck; it’s a big challenge but so worth it. The liberation when you feel that fear is leaving you more, and the love that has always been within you can emerge more and more. Let’s end with this beautiful poem by E. E. Cummings about love.

love is a place

& through this place of

love move

(with brightness of peace)

all places

yes is a world

& in this world of

yes live

(skilfully curled)

all worlds

~ E. E. Cumming