For the longest time, I lived with a fear- or lack-based mentality. There was never enough to go around - be it money, jobs, love/romance, opportunity, etc.. When I lived in that mentality, it became my reality. I’d attract or anticipate lack or disappointment in every area of my life, always waiting for the worst possible outcome to surface - often, I’d attract just that.
Fear-based thinking is something that is deeply rooted in us. It takes a lot of self awareness and even more drive to acknowledge and explore our own fears. A LOT. Often our fears are manifestations of something else, even deeper. A tiny story that tells us we are not good enough or deserving enough for the good that is available to us. A story that tells us to be on the lookout for the worst case scenario. A story that tells us that there is always a deal-breaker that cannot be worked around.
A few years ago, I made a commitment to start transforming the way I perceive the world. And it’s been a challenge. Aside from the tremendous struggle of actually facing my own fears head-on and deciding to see them differently; I also had to deal with the fact that a lot of the world around me would continue to process circumstances from my old fear-based way of thinking.
The reality that others continue to see fear where I see opportunity continues to challenge me. It’s surfaced in relationships of all kind, from personal to professional to romantic. It’s hard and it’s frustrating. Which means it’s a lesson I’m intended to reflect on deeply.
Recently, I’ve come across this fear-based mentality in several close relationships. Friends jump to anger and aggression; colleagues rush to doom and gloom; romantic partners skip to obstacles and ignore opportunities. The sticky situation for me is that I’ve been there too, but now have a different way of thinking. I have to challenge myself to meet those relationships back in that place that I was versus the place where I am now. To do this, I must find a place of understanding and compassion for their fear instead of turning to a place of frustration and judgement.
The reality is, thinking and processing life from a more enlightened state can be really difficult; particularly because we are constantly challenged to coexist with others who do not think and process in the same fashion. It is frustrating when someone you care about is hyper-focused on the negative in a situation that you know, instinctively, will work out for the better. It is agitating when you have to witness someone choose from a place of fear, though you know there is another outcome available. It is saddening when you have to allow someone to play out their own fear-based story, though you know a miraculous story is just as likely.
When these fear-based lessons present themselves, I struggle to sit back and let them play out, sometimes hoping I can offer a shortcut through their suffering (and often mine). In these times, I am challenged to practice extreme patience, love, and compassion, remembering that everyone embarks on their own journey when (and if) they are ready. It is not my place to judge or lecture. After all, every encounter is here for my learning, too. In times where I find my own self-awareness or perception is challenged by another, I always look to this reminder from Marianne Williamson; I think it will serve you too: Our job is not to convince anyone. Our job is to demonstrate another way. And so it is.