Are you choosing love ... or fear?
This past Sunday evening on Mother’s Day, I returned home from an amazing retreat feeling euphoric and transformed. My husband and son picked me up from the airport. My teen had just returned from a late-night sleepover so my expectations for the evening were low: a quick bite out at our favorite pizza spot and then, hopefully, some time together catching up on the couch. But our night began to take a different course. My 14 year-old was feeling argumentative and I could tell every word out of my mouth was annoying him (even though I was focusing on being as loving as possible). I watched as he slid into his recent pattern of constant negative push-back with my husband and me. Then things went downhill from there.
By the time I headed into the bathroom at 9 p.m. to wash the mascara streaks off my cheeks and began to unpack, I was feeling sad, angry and exhausted. The voices in my head were lining up like angry soldiers preparing to head into battle: THIS IS NOT how Mother’s Day should be going down, they shouted. I felt my body constrict, I took some deep breaths and attempted to anchor back to my post-retreat high. Then, I heard my son’s tender, high voice call out from behind his closed bedroom door, “Mom, will you come and snuggle with me?”
As I pushed his comforter aside so I could be next to him and rub his small, strong back in his pitch-black room, I heard him apologize. He shared some pretty mature and deep feelings about all the end-of-school transitions he’s navigating and I felt my heart soften and my anger melt away.
Most great spiritual teachers and traditions tell us, we only ever have two choices in how we approach our lives and day-to-day interactions: from fear or from love.
When relationships are viewed through the eyes of love, we:
• trust — and allow those we love to follow their unique path (even if we don’t agree);
• practice acceptance and let go (of homework struggles, of who’s right, and so on);
• listen from our hearts in our interactions and respond in the moment;
• communicate openly and are more receptive and flexible;
• come from a prosperity mindset and see that there is always “enough” time, attention, space, and resources;
• see everyone’s true essence, who they really are, not how they’re acting in the moment; and
• are able to feel more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
When relationships are viewed through the eyes of fear, we
• try to control, manipulate, and micromanage people and situations, thinking we always know best;
• think things are good only when they’re going “our” way;
• operate from our heads and fall into over-thinking, criticizing and over-managing;
• become reactive and get easily triggered;
• react negatively and see problems first, instead of acknowledging what’s going well;
• come from a poverty mindset and feel like there is never enough;
• punish, judge, and isolate ourselves from others.
Reading these extremes, who wouldn’t want to choose love over fear (read more about my I Choose Love movement) when relating to those around us? We all want to feel open, free, generous and fully available to our loved ones. But often this is hard. It’s easy to fall into old habitual patterns –like feeling victimized, righteous, resentful or seeing what’s wrong in a situation without acknowledging what’s right. Choosing love over fear takes vigilance and a willingness to consciously choose this path, moment to moment. Again and again.
After I left my son’s room–way past his bedtime, but feeling grateful we both got the opportunity to shift—I realized what an incredible gift this strangely perfect Mother’s Day had been. We both got to experience the power of forgiveness and the reminder that we always, at any point, can stop, shift and course-correct. We can choose to drop our fear-filled backpacks and step into a lighter way of being. We can choose love.