"The end of fear is where we begin the moment we decided to let love in
There's nothing we can do about the things we have to do without
The only way to feel again is let love in."
Goo Goo Dolls
If you were sitting in a room filled of people and asked, "How many of you want to be in love?" I bet you wouldn't be at all surprised if most hands in the room shot up quickly and without hesitation. Whether or not we think about it on a daily basis, love is something we all want. In fact, most things we work toward in life are based on the idea of wanting love and acceptance. We want to be successful and well-liked, but, above all, what we all really want is to be loved. However, much as we all want it, so many of us are actually really scared to get it. The way some people feel about love reminds me of the way my dog Bella acts when you give her a bone. She really wants the bone, but when you hand it to her, she won't take it. For whatever reason, she shiess away from it, looking at it warily from the corner of her eye. If you set it down on the floor, she'll run up to it and snatch it quickly, trotting it over to the couch or carpet where she promptly begins chewing. She wants the bone -- she really does -- but for some reasons she's scared of it. A lot of people are like that when it comes to love.
If you're lucky enough to be offered love, it doesn't always mean that you're going to welcome it into your life with open arms. Like my pup Bella, you may look at it from the corner of your eye, sizing it up and wondering whether or not you should take it. Why? Because you're afraid. Many, many people are afraid to love because they are afraid of getting hurt or they're afraid their not good enough or they're afraid they aren't capable of love themselves or they're afraid for reasons I've never heard of or reasons that are uniquely their own. In the past I've struggled with accepting love in my life. Like everyone, I've desperately wanted love, but, like so many, I've had difficulty letting others get close to me. Why? Because I was afraid that, inevitably, they would hurt me. Just like Bella with the bone, I was afraid of taking something I knew I wanted for fear that I would be hurt by it. (Also like Bella, once the love was left there for me to take from the safety of the floor, no longer being waved in my face, I found that I could reach down and grab it on my own, at my own pace.)
For a very long time, I was afraid of love. That doesn't mean I wasn't in love or I wasn't spending time loving others, but it does mean that during those times I was living in fear. I was loving but, at the same time, I was so afraid of losing. I held back for fear of love's loss holding me back. For me, and for many others, letting love into my life was really difficult. It seems silly because, when you think about it, who wouldn't want love? We all want it but, for a variety of reasons, it can sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world -- even when the love itself feels so good. I've found that letting love in can actually require you to be brave, to open up to someone else in a way that you never thought you wanted to, and to believe that you can trust another person. Doing these things can be very challenging and, positive as love can be, the potential loss of it can also be very intimidating.
Let's bring it back to Bella, shall we? Anyone who has a pet knows that, at some point, that pet is going to die. My sweet little Bella is turning six next month and that means that, quite possibly, about half her life is over. Now, that sounds like an incredibly morbid thought I know, but think about it this way: just because I know my best buddy is going to die does that mean I'm going to stop loving her and playing with her and spending as much time with her as I can? Just because I know she's going to be gone at some point (yep, my eyes are welling up already at the thought of it) and I will be heartbroken, does that mean I shouldn't allow her little awesomeness to be a part of my life? No. Knowing that I'm going to lose her, in fact, makes me love her all the more and makes me take extra care with making the most of my time with her (what if we thought that way with all of our relationships?).
The point is: losing love sucks and I don't disagree with that for a minute. Cliche as it might be, that old quote "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" really is true. Losing love can be terrible and terrifying, but does it mean we shouldn't love? Certainly not! I understand from experience how hard it can be to open your heart and mind to the idea of love, but every second of love is worth it, even if it ends in heartache. So, when faced with the sometimes scary opportunity of letting love into your life, ask yourself these questions:
What do I really have to lose? It might seem like you have a lot to lose if you're considering your last heartbreak or thinking about all of those media-generated images of people who have had their hearts broken, but, really, what is it that you will lose if you actually let someone love you and it doesn't work out? You'll have to deal with some difficult times and you'll certainly feel rough at some points, but will it be the end of the world? No. You will survive and, if you hold back and don't let love in, you will have missed out on all of the wonderful things that come along with being in love. It can be very easy to focus on the negatives in any situation when you feel afraid. It can be much easier to just steer clear of anything that might potential make you feel bad, but, when you think about it logically, the good most often overrides the bad when it comes to love.
What's the worst that could happen? I know a broken heart may seem like the worse thing that could happen (and, yes, it's up there in terms of pain), but will you be unable to go on if you let love in and it doesn't work out the way you planned? Nope. You'll be able to survive. As wonderful and amazing and inspiring as love is, it's not everything when it comes to life. Life is about so many things and, while love does play a big part in many aspects of life, without it you won't wither away and die. Without it, your life won't have lost it's meaning. Whatever you think the worst thing that could happen is, remember that love is better than that and it's worth the risk. Every single time.
What can I gain from love? Now, let's focus on the positives for a moment. Love, as anyone who has ever been in love knows, is A-W-E-S-O-M-E. It's one of the best things ever. Not only does it make you feel like a million bucks, but it also has health benefits and generally puts you in a much better, more positive, frame of mind. You can gain a lot from love. When someone in your life really loves you, that person will be there to support you. That person will stand by you and lift you up when you're feeling down. Check out the post "9 Positive Aspects of Love" to read all about how you can benefit from love. Focusing on the positives may help you to see that love really is worth the risk of heartache.
What am I really afraid of? When you begin with the idea that you're afraid of love (or anything for that matter), it's important to take another look at your fear and really try to understand it. Are you afraid of letting love in because you don't trust people? Are you afraid of letting love in because you don't feel as though you love yourself? Are you afraid of letting love in because you don't know if you could really love someone else? There are many reasons you might be holding back and it's important to take a look at the reasons behind your fears and try to deal with those. If you have issues with trust or self-love, for example, it's important to focus on those and work toward understanding yourself better. Once you do that, it'll be a lot easier to let love into your life.
How can I let go of my fears? After you determine what you're really afraid of -- and, yes, you must really learn to listen to yourself and be completely 100% honest with yourself with this one -- you can begin to figure out how you can let go of your fears and focus on the positive aspects of love (which, in reality, out weigh the negatives, though it may not always seem that way if you're in heartbreak mode). Remember: even when things don't work out, all of those good love-powered highs will have been worth it. When you love someone, it may feel like you're giving away a part of yourself, but really you're simply allowing that part of yourself to go out into the world and grow stronger. You have much more to gain than you do to lose.
Once you've given those questions some thought, I bet you'll find that it will be a lot easier to let that love in. Like Bella with her bone, you might be scared to take love when it's offered to you. You might fear it will hurt you or you will hurt others or that, for whatever reason, you don't deserve it. You might struggle with trusting others, trusting yourself, or even trusting love. But listen up! Love is amazing. It's one of the best things in the whole world and it's not every day that it comes along and shines it's bright light on your world. If you're given the chance to love and be loved, take it. No matter how difficult it is, no matter what you have to do to make it happen, let go of your fears and let love in.
Do you struggle with accepting love?
How do you let love into your life?
Wondering how you can stay positive and present on a daily basis? Check out my book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, filled with daily tips, advice, and inspiration for making the most of every day. Stay Positive is available in Paperback and PDF. Learn more about the book (and watch the video!) at StayPositive365.com.