“Fear takes, love gives.”
When I realized this truth last week, I found that I had been taking so much all my life.
If I did something out of fear, it was to protect myself (which is pretty darn selfish).
I had grown up in a home where my mom made me feel that I had to protect myself. So I’d lie to manage the situation and manage her. This also taught me to lie to other authorities in my life (like teachers) because I wanted to protect myself.
I acted out of fear, and unknowingly, brought this into my relationship with my husband (someone who has always been so forgiving and kind to me).
And out of this week, as I faced fear, I started to realize that I was beginning to develop a method.
This is something I had never thought of doing before, but it’s done two things for me:
- It’s actually encouraged me to not just realize the wrong I was doing, but choose a better option.
- Encourage me to keep going and create hope in my change.
And I call it the Choosing Method.
PS – Whether you believe in God or not, I blame him for putting the next couple ideas in my head.
The Choosing Method
So there’s this weird science thing with the brain where when we make a habit in our lives, a path of neurons in our brain has been made.
So basically, it’s easier for us to follow in that same habit over the years because we teach our brains the response it should have when it comes across a certain problem or scenario.
And then it creates that path in our brain where “If X happens, then Y should happen.”
So for example, I have this bad habit that I learned growing up where I’ll do things out fear and not love.
If I saw that there was the potential (or even not) to get out of trouble and not get yelled at (by a parent or other authority), I’d make sure to do it because it was scary.
The idea of getting in trouble was unappealing, so I formed the habit of doing almost everything out of fear (even if it didn’t make sense!).
Oh, carry most of the groceries into the house? Wasn’t doing it because I loved my husband, but out of fear. As if he’d get angry with me over not taking more (by the way, he always insists on carrying most of the groceries, so it’s a lost battle 😉 ).
And soon the Choosing Method was developed.
At first, I would only identify when I was doing something out of fear.
But here’s the problem with that.
- I would get discouraged and think, “What the heck is wrong with me? Am I just really messed up?”
- It wouldn’t change anything. Yes, it’s good to identify, but you’re not developing a new habit.
So obvious just seeing the problem didn’t help. I’d get frustrated and hopeless with myself, so I had to create a solution.
And here’s what I learned…
Even if you’ve already done the action, you can still choose to do the opposite and start creating a new habit (even after doing the bad habit).
You’re forcing your brain to create a new pathway for your actions. So even when you brain says, “If X happens, then Y should happen,” you can force backup, detour, and find a new path.
So for instance, if I saw that I was offering to do something out of fear, I would realize that I just said that out of a bad place. Then I would choose to take it back and give the offer out of love. Because hey, I love my husband, so why wouldn’t I want to do this task for him?
“Fear takes, love gives.”
This was something God dropped on my heart this week as well.
I had to choose love over fear in these situations because the idea of taking from my husband was extremely selfish. He deserved to be loved, and if I could expel fear out of my life once and for all, then I would be serving him in this way.
I also learned choosing joy was powerful too…
So when I was choosing love over fear in these situations, I also found that I could choose joy as well (another bomb God dropped on me).
Joy is also another opposite of fear because it lifts up and gives you hope for the situation. Whereas fear takes you down and makes you feel miserable (and has you make some bad decisions).
So in my case, if I made a mistake in my relationship with Silas, fear would have me hide it from him. I’d want to protect myself instead of choosing closeness and intimacy with him.
Side Note: When we were first dating, we agreed to be 100% open if things were going to get serious.
And while I was choosing love this week by admitting my mistakes, I started to choose joy as well.
Here’s why it works: I found I should have joy to open up about a mistake to my husband because it was changing our relationship and making it stronger.
I was creating a better life with Silas, so that was something to be joyful over.
If you can choose joy, you’re creating a positive pathway in your brain to see something that used to be scary, as a good thing. You’re choosing to be empowered and make the right decisions and have a better life. Isn’t that kinda crazy cool?
And I know that soon, when I continue to do this, that part of me that chooses fear… won’t be there anymore.
Next was the Solidify Method.
I realized that when I told Silas about how I was changing, even if it was something small, it was solidifying my new habit.
It was making it more real to me and encouraging me to continue on.
Instead of just being in my head and not acknowledging many of the times I chose to do something right, I processed it with my husband (and this could be anymore for you).
It brought that fear out into the open. It didn’t keep it in a place where it could hide in secret. Instead, I was being honest with what was going on inside my head and talking about my change.
In fact, talking about what I was doing to change excited me too! I was getting to see real progress in the bad habits I had done for years. I was putting a spotlight on it.
So when you say things out loud, you’re able to process them better, and solidify the change within you.
This isn’t just something that’s here for a short time, you’re creating a foundation for it to stay.