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Love and Fear

Love and fear
Love and fear

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the truth about the premise and assertion that there are only 2 emotions – fear and love.

First a quick update:

“America’s Obsession with beauty & the impact on women”
Is America obsessed with beauty and even more than other countries? Who decides what “beauty” is? What is the impact on women of societal expectations of beauty and physical perfection? What effect does the obsession by women with beauty have on men and relationships? Listen here to my in-depth responses and insights into these and other pertinent questions along with the solutions.

Follow me on Twitter – You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert

Now, let’s talk about the premise and assertion that there are only 2 emotions – fear and love.

Many new age teachers argue that there are only 2 emotions – fear and love. They argue that every other emotion we experience falls into one of those categories – love is about connection & contribution and fear is about ego or separation from everyone else.

“The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.” – “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman and William Thetford

While it is quite poetic and even emotionally uplifting, the assertion that there are only 2 emotions is not accurate.

For example, physical fear is instigated by the brain. There is no conscious thought or analysis when you hear a loud noise; you simply react instantly by becoming afraid or startled. Note, too, that children are born with 2 fears only – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.

Fear is experienced and processed in the brain by the amygdalae, a pair of almond-shaped clusters of neurons isolated deep within the medial temporal lobes.

Therefore, we all have fears connected to survival that are neurologically based and are not in any way connected to psychological ego or separation, nor are they countered or neutralized by ‘love’ as they are a hardwired response.

Accordingly, there is also a difference between physical fear (the fight or flight response) and emotional and psychological fear which develop as the result of what we experience and the way we perceive the world. Note, too, that stress can cause the brain to shrink and result in loss of emotional control, impulsivity, depression, addiction and a host of other problems.

Another example that not all emotions fit into the categories of love or fear: a person can respond with anger to an event because he/she feels hurt or injured (physical or emotional injury) or, because he/she simply didn’t get what he/she wanted. Therefore, the motivation is not fear, and ‘love’ would not stop someone from experiencing the emotion of anger. As I will explain later, conscious, deliberate analysis would, though, create the opportunity to respond but not react to the feeling of anger.

To assert that one is either feeling fear or love only serves to deny the broad spectrum of human emotions and the human experience; that same belief also creates feelings of guilt and shame for experiencing what new age people term as ‘negative’ emotions.

All emotions are engagements with the world.

We need to experience guilt otherwise we would have no moral conscience and we would harm others. We need to experience empathy and compassion as a way to connect with other people, ease their suffering, and to prevent us from harming others. Note that psychopaths do not have the neurological capacity to express compassion or empathy.

The same applies to the emotion of anger; we need anger to protect people and we need anger to drive us to take action to fight off someone who is attacking a helpless person.

Thus, we can argue that the ‘negative’ emotions labeled as ‘fear-based emotions’ can actually drive us to express more love i.e. anger to protect, guilt to create a conscience.

Of course, it is true that what some people label as negative emotions can also be perceived as “agitative emotions” per the Dalai Lama. Read my article “Anger is catabolic.” 

In other words, while we must acknowledge and accept all of our emotions, the less ‘agitative’ emotions we experience (anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, anxiety, blame, shame, etc), the happier we will generally be and the more inner peace we will experience.

Another philosophical argument is to question what drives some of our emotional desires such as power.

Is fear the drive for power?

If someone chooses to be a captain of a sports team, a leader of a company or the head of their own household, are they driven by fear?

Each one of us has his/her own set of values. A person who desires to be powerful and become a leader is not necessarily driven by fear.

If a person chooses to accumulate money and wealth, is he/she driven by fear or simply one’s own values?

A person who has earned by legal and ethical means a 10 million dollar yacht is not more fearful, nor more egoistic than a person who has earned by legal and ethical means enough to drive an average car. Nor can we attribute to ‘love’ the desire and emotional drive to enjoy the luxury of the massive yacht or the desire to enjoy the simplicity of an average car.

If love is the only ideal, then why is it that love can lead to all sorts of problems such as jealousy, possessiveness and fear of rejection, betrayal and fear of losing the loved one?

If a person is betrayed by their partner or spouse, will the subsequent emotion of betrayal he/she experiences be labeled as a negative emotion fitting into the category of fear?

The point here is that we have at least 336 identifiable emotions. To deny them is to deny the full breadth of the human experience.

However, when we consider as a philosophical ideal, the assertion that there are two key emotions of love and fear, then we have the choice to reflect which one we can choose to express. The key being that we have ‘a choice.’

The only way we can logically argue that love is the primary ideal is when we promote unconditional love. We must accept that as humans, when we express love, we often do so with conditions: we expect our partner to reciprocate and to be faithful; we expect them to treat us a certain way and to live up to certain ideals. Were we to love someone unconditionally, then it wouldn’t matter at all whether or not they were faithful, loyal or if they loved us; we would remove all expectations. That is a challenge for every one of us since we all have needs – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Read my article “The challenge of unconditional love.”

It must be also noted that fear, which can make us run from danger, can also paralyze us when it comes time to live and fulfill our dreams. Fear can prevent us from expressing love and connecting with others; fear of not being good enough can make us hide and isolate ourselves.

Love, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and others are ultimately what free us to truly enjoy life and to live it with passion.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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