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Fear and Love...And Being Vulnerable

Wayne Dyer, inspirational author and speaker, said that there are only two emotions: fear and love. Reflecting on the 'wheel of emotions' used to help identify feelings, I thought about anger, grief, joy, sadness, frustration, peace, and the whole spectrum of human emotions that are not fear or love, and realized this: all of them are rooted in fear or love.

If we think about it this way, anger is usually caused by hurt or feeling wronged, which cannot be felt unless there is underlying love - of another or of self. Grief and sadness can only come from fear - of loss, suffering, or an undesired state. Peace cannot come from fear, only from love. And frustration cannot come from love, only from fear of unwanted outcomes. We cannot both fear and love authentically at once. And insofar as we can choose our behaviors based on fear or love - and I firmly believe that we can - we are best served by heeding Mr. Dyer's advice to go with love. Why? Because love is open and expansive, an end in itself; fear is closed and limiting and a gateway to experiencing lack.

This brings me to the concept of vulnerability, described in Oxford Languages as "the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally." We experience vulnerability in both fear and love, as both imply exposure to potential hurt. Feeling vulnerable in fear leads to self-protection, a natural response to potential harm that is sometimes necessary and appropriate. Yet, feeling vulnerable when we truly love elicits a different response: courage, allowing, giving, as well as receiving. We must put down the defenses to allow love to manifest. True love knows no fear. It requires and exhibits strength. Think of the ultimate unconditional love of a mother for a child; it is indomitable.

To behave from a place of love means choosing to give, freely, despite exposure to potential hurt. It also means choosing to receive, to allow oneself to experience being loved, without condition - no need to earn, deserve, return, or justify the love. This cannot happen in fear.

If there are only two emotions - fear and love - we are best served to go with love. The question we might ask ourselves is whether we want to be safe or we want to be happy. Love beats fear hands-down, every time.

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