Fear of commitment – seeing through the mask of control & freedom
After three busy but relaxing weeks, I had a day completely for myself. I worked a bit, took a long walk and enjoyed my homemade pizza. I remember a quote from a friend on this nice spring evening. “You teach best what you need to learn” by Richard Bach. I have to think of my own fear of commitment and my attachment to freedom and my own space and that of my clients. I feel that I am getting freer of my fear and I share my own experience with them. This is a blog about my personal story about these fears and coping mechanisms and what I have learned so far. I will end with tips on how to better deal with the fear of commitment.
The root cause lies in our youth
After watching a few inspiring YouTube videos (some I will share later on) it all started to make sense. Usually it starts in our youth and a rejecting parent is often the main reason. In my case it started with my father. It was not his fault as his father rejected him in his youth. My grandfather and grandmother had simply experienced too much in WW II to be able to deal with emotions. He was traumatized by working on the gruesome Burma railway and she by her imprisonment in the Japanese prison camps. In short, I don’t blame anyone for anything. In fact, my relationship with my father is stronger than ever.
We have been told to avoid pain
My mother was better at giving love and warmth, but she also suppressed her fears and tried to preserve security through harmony. This allowed people to really go beyond her personal boundaries, about which I also need to be careful. As a young boy I quickly learned to avoid responsibilities (reducing the chance of being rejected), I controlled my emotions (mainly suppressing them), I kept harmony by trying to please and I didn’t connect myself too closely with others. All strategies to prevent that pain of rejection (not feeling good enough). Makes sense right?
Freedom and space as a means to prevent pain
Only now do I realize that my urge for freedom and space was simply a way to avoid this raw pain. I made sure i kept a foot in the door, so I always had an escape. The mechanism is so simple. Every time my pain is felt, my system goes in a flight-fight-freeze mode. I mainly use the flight (flight) option and if that does not work I freeze. Almost literally, one of my most personal blogs is about this. My father for example mostly uses the fight mode, he quickly gets angry with others. So everyone develops his own way of coping.
Learn to allow and feel the pain
I also see this with many of my clients. We go very far to avoid our pain. But we should do the opposite, allow and feel the pain. Learn to feel the fear of commitment and slowly go the other way. Towards more commitment. Not backing away from fear. Check this with yourself. What happens if you avoid your emotions? Do you go into a thinking mode? Do you become calmer? Is it a sustainable solution? In a beautiful video, Adyashanti literally led me to my pain through a beautiful writing exercise. Layer by layer. If you recognize something in what has been written so far, then it might be worth watching.
Stay with your painful emotion, every time!
If you manage to stay with your painful emotion, then you do not have to fight, flee or freeze. Sooner or later you will also feel your mind and body relax. Just stay with it and yes your whole system wants to run away from it (often literally). But at a certain moment the cost of flight is too high. Just keep still. Sure it comes back and sometimes you will fall back into old behaviour again. No problem, life gives you many new opportunities to stay with it 😉
The reward if you stop running away
Every time I manage to stay and really allow (feel!), there is a liberation and happiness that I didn’t know before. This is also temporary but you relax more and more in yourself. In other words we increasingly becoming one with our natural state of being. My teacher often mentions Rumi: “to flow down and down in always widening rings of being.”
Perhaps I have already given the most important tip, but there are a number of other things that have really helped me. Maybe it will help you too, especially if you recognize the issues around fear of commitment. Here they come:
- Focus on the kind of commitment you want and base your choices on that.
- Look at your anxious side (pain) with compassion and love. For example that your controlling side, especially in your younger years, was necessary to survive and lead your life.
- See that pleasing (the need to get confirmation from the other person) is based on fear and choose love. Choose what you really feel and want. To being with, this applies to many of these points, start with small things and slowly bring it to more areas of your life.
- Be aware of how much energy it costs you to try to get rid of painful feelings (anticipation, control and pleasing etc.) and let this be your motivation to do it differently.
- Use love and compassion (writing) exercises and meditations as antidotes to fear and our inner critic.
- Admit that you have self-confidence issues and fear has a grip on you. Be brutally honest with yourself. Start to focus on what you do well and your qualities. For example, repeat at the end of the week three points that you have done well, no matter how small. Try to feel this too.
- See your relationship as an ultimate opportunity for (spiritual) growth, something my teacher Rupert Spira often says. For this the other person must be different. And challenges become opportunities to learn from each other. A perfectly fitting partner is therefore not necessary at all. A nice ted-talk about this: relationships are hard but why?
I am, perhaps just like you, still working hard to make this my own. I hope that this blog will challenge you but at the same time give you the confidence that it can be done differently. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to send me an email or if you want to talk about it in person I do give free introductory sessions. Either way goodluck!
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”