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Chasing Fear Out of the Arena
of Loving and Relating

by Marilyn C. Barrick, Ph.D.
Featured in New Living, Health and Fitness NewsMagazine
New York-Metro Area, July 1999

      As a clinical psychologist and relationship counselor for 35 years, I have come to realize that fear is one of the biggest culprits in sabotaging relationships. Many of us experience some apprehension about entering new relationships, and we have our moments during ongoing relationships. We fear being rejected. We fear being accepted for who the other person thinks we are because of the "front" we put on. We fear exposing our deepest feelings and desires. We fear both intimacy and loneliness. We fear exposure of our weaknesses or exploitation of our strengths. The list goes on and on.
      Most of us recognize that underlying our fear is hurt. We run scenarios about past or future hurts in the movie theatre of our mind. We scare ourselves about the future and wince as we remember the past. Ultimately, those fears come home to roost in our closest relationships. We may keep our hearts open to a certain point but shy away from revealing our secret dreams and tender vulnerabilities for fear of being misunderstood. Thus, we hide the fullness of who we really are. We may frighten ourselves enough that we back off entirely.
      Or, we may choose to pursue that fear and chase it right out of the arena of loving and relating. If you are game for that option, ask yourself: "What are my vulnerabilities that I fear are unacceptable? What is the worst that could happen if they emerge in this relationship? How might I handle that?"
      Seek an even deeper understanding: "When have I revealed "the real me" and felt rejected? Where was I? What was I doing? Who rejected me? Why? What lessons have I learned from those experiences?"
      Now, ask yourself, "Am I willing to take the risk of being "the real me" again?" If your answer is, "No way!" you are not yet ready to face and overcome your fear. If you say, "Yes! If I'm rejected for being real, it wouldn't have worked anyway," you are ready to pursue the heights and depths of being your authentic, loving self in relationships-no matter what! Facing down the hobgoblin of fear can definitely pay off. You see, when you face what you are afraid of, the fear begins to lose its hold over you. When you can see the humorous side of a situation that has scared you, you are well on your way to transforming that fear. When you take positive action in spite of fear, you win a victory.
      What if you make a mistake? How about forgiving yourself when those flaws in the diamond of your being show up? Remember, only real diamonds have flaws. Give yourself a pat on the back each time you hang in there when you're scared. Greet each relationship as a special opportunity to take the risk of being authentic, of opening your heart and soul to loving and being loved.
      Prepare yourself for the challenges of loving and relating by appreciating and loving yourself the way God loves you. Dialogue with your frightened self about all the scary possibilities that come to mind-this way, not much will catch you by surprise. You might find it comforting to share your feelings with someone you trust--a friend or loved one. Because, you know what? For the most part, fear is nothing but an illusion. When you share it with someone else, it tends to disappear. Soon you may find yourself looking forward to each new relationship as a way to share your unique gifts with another special person.
      If fear comes sneaking back in, try the following prescription:
  1. Determine to stand, face and conquer the fear.
  2. Ask your Higher Self to help you mobilize the courage to be authentic.
  3. Cultivate a sense of humor and a quickness to forgive yourself and your partner.
  4. When you feel scared, take three deep breaths, exhale very slowly through your mouth as you touch the tip of your tongue inside your upper teeth at the gum line.
  5. Choose to give yourself and your partner a daily dose of loving kindness.
  6. Keep on loving, relating and forgiving in the face of disagreements or conflicts.
  7. Give yourself and your partner three cheers and a big bear hug every time both of you take the risk of being "real."
      Every time we outwit fear and claim our courage to love, to forgive, to try again, we win a personal victory. It is very precious, the lesson that comes from being our real self. We learn that the "bogeyman" of fear is just that-a hobgoblin that isn't real. When we mobilize courage, fear fades into nothingness. As we choose to be our real self, we make a wonderful discovery. We love who we are, and we love the beloved. Our heart has come of age.

      Dr. Marilyn Barrick specializes in spiritual-transformational work for the healing of soul and spirit. Her illumining books, Sacred Psychology of Love, Sacred Psychology of Change, DREAMS: Exploring the Secrets of Your Soul, EMOTIONS: Transforming Anger, Fear and Pain, SOUL REFLECTIONS: Many Lives, Many Journeys, A Spiritual Approach to Parenting: Secrets of Raising the 21st Century Child, and Everything Is Energy: New Ways to Heal Your Body, Mind & Spirit are available in fine bookstores. To order direct, call 1-800-245-5445 or 406-848-9500 outside the U.S.A.
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