woensdag 23 maart 2016

La Peur, l'ennemie déclarée.


After the attacks in Brussels yesterday, I decided I should write something. Again, the hashtags on Social Media: #prayforbelgium. Again, the Belgian flag on people's profile pictures. Again, the minutes of silence. Again, people on the streets of Brussels. Again, the fear, la peur. I've seen this all before. I'm even starting to get used to this. Just when you start feeling safe, they strike again. I hear people saying "It's starting to come really close now!" And I feel like I want to shout to them: "It was already close for me!!! Now, do you know how it feels???" But you, dear Dutch people, do not yet know what it really feels like. You will probably soon know, but I hope not.. But what/who is our worst enemy?

I started thinking about fear... How fear ruins a lot of things for us in life: our joy in life, our feeling of safety and security, our motivation, our work, our studies, our relationships. Fear of failure, loss, separation, commitment, change, others, the world. Fear seems to me to be almost never a good thing. We have two expressions in Dutch which express it well: "Een mens lijdt het meest onder het lijden wat hij vreest ("a man suffers the most from the suffering that he fears")" and "Angst is een slechte raadgever ("Fear is an ill advisor"). A lot of negative emotions and negative outcomes are the direct result of fear; anger, hatred, failure, sadness, despair, broken relationships, arguments. A lot of people never realise their lives and the negative events in their lives are the results of their own fears and the fears of others.

Xenophobia, discrimination and racism are a perfect example of the terrible results of fear. We are afraid of others in our lives. We are even more afraid of strangers who look different from us. This may have served us a biological purpose in the past, when tribes were fighting other tribes. Our fear makes us think we are very different from these strangers. We try to accentuate the differences between us and these strangers, so that we can feel better about ourselves. Accepting strangers is a dangerous risk to take. This used to be the case maybe, long ago. But right now, accepting strangers can lead to more understanding and many positive things. We can work together and live in peace. Our fear of strangers serves no purpose anymore, accept for accentuating differences and creating hatred. We are not at war with strange tribes anymore. I was thinking about this while watching the video of the Dutch supporters in Madrid making fun of the gypsies. It was disgusting, but it was human nature. This was an example of one of our most primitive emotions: fear. The fear of the unknown, of poverty, of gypsies. These people tried to show their dominance over these gypsies and to separate themselves from poor gypsies by embarassing them.

Fear is a negative emotion, which nowadays hardly ever serves us well. Fear is an emotion which comes in handy in life-or-death situations. It gives us adrenaline and makes us act fast and flee or fight the enemy. Life-or-death situations used to be more abundant than they are now. It is good to be a little bit scared, but fear in excess leads to a lot of unnecessary misery.

Have you ever realised how many decisions in this world are based on fear? Fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of losing our freedom, fear of losing someone or being separated from someone, fear of failure. We perceive danger in a lot of situations, where in fact, there isn't any real danger.
We want to be in control of our lives all the time and to give somebody else a little control of our lives seems terrifying. Sometimes even when giving somebody else a little control of our lives can mean many good things for us: in a relationship: love, in a job interview: a chance at a good career, we still would rather pass on this opportunity, because the fear of a bad outcome is too big! We think we can plan our entire lives and when life turns out to go in a different direction, we think we are in danger, because we don't know what to expect. But you never know what you can expect from the future! The future isn't known to anyone.

To live in fear of the future and of making choices seems to be a terrible idea, because you can never know what the future holds!!

Many people in love make decisions based on fear. They seem to think they have control over their love lives. You cannot control who loves you and who won't love you or who will stop loving you. The only thing you have control over is the choices you make in this moment at this time. So, to base your actions in love on fear is again a terrible idea. You don't know what is going to happen. You think somebody will always stay by your side, no matter how you treat them? Think again. You think marrying someone will make them stay by your side? Think again. You think everybody will always leave you, no matter what you do? Think again. You think becoming intimate with someone will put your freedom in danger? Think again. Fear of these things makes us say things and do things that ultimately lead to the feared outcome. Fear of commitment is nothing more than a fear of letting someone become so close to you that they can hurt you. They will be more likely to hurt you when you keep trying to distance yourself from them and keep treating them as less important than they really are to you. A fear of separation will lead to a person desparately trying to keep another person close. This other person can come to resent you for that and will maybe try to leave you. In psychology you call this the "self-fulfilling prophecy". The bottomline is: a relationship is based on love for each other. Another person cannot chain you or imprison you and if he/she loves you, he/she won't try to. You are free to leave whenever you want. A person would be less likely to leave you if you respect their freedom. People are so incredibly afraid of heartbreak and the hurt of losing someone, that they are too afraid to take a chance on what could have been a beautiful relationship, a chance on love.

Think about it. We all have our phobias. If you listen to your phobia, you will never be able to test if your fears are really true. If you are afraid of going outside and therefore, you never go outside, you will never know if it's dangerous outside. If you are afraid of spiders, you will never touch a spider and you will never know if touching some spiders is okay to do. If you are afraid of losing your freedom and therefore, you don't commit yourself to anyone, you will never know if you would really lose your freedom in a committed relationship and if a committed relationship could perhaps even bring you joy.

What I want to say is: Live your life!! Go out and have fun. Do not base your decisions on fear and fear will no longer be able to ruin your life. You cannot control the future either way, but you can stop yourself from making bad decisions. Take a chance on love. Take a chance on life. Take chances!!!!!!!!! And visit Brussels and Paris ^^



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