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How to Overcome the Fear of Love.
How can I deal with the fear and possible embarrassment of showing affection for someone I love?
Love is both exciting and frightening. On the one hand, there is no greater feeling than to love and to be loved. On the other hand, love makes us vulnerable and it opens us up to heartbreak. Because of this, we sometimes turn away from love. However, to hold back our affection, because we are afraid of the outcome, is to deny ourselves the opportunity to experience all the things that make this life worth living.
There is no denying that a heart truly felt will sometimes break. Despite this, we must not let the fear of pain or embarrassment stop us from carrying on. A beautiful life is measured by the degree to which we embrace the possibility of disappointment, instead of avoiding it; it is measured by our understanding that heartbreak is simply a sign of our sincerity.
The French philosopher Albert Camus used to say to himself, “live to the point of tears.” He believed that grief is an inevitable aspect of being human. He believed you cannot have true love, or a true life, without experiencing heartache and defeat. To be fully alive is to be open to all that life has to offer, both the good and the bad.
When considering love, the only ‘real’ choice we have is to embrace it as much as we can, even if we eventually get hurt. A life devoid of hardship is the hardest life of all. To make our journeys worthwhile, we must risk ourselves in this difficult world. We must put ourselves on the line in the hopes that something beautiful will come out on the other side. Unless we commit to living wholeheartedly, we are destined for a life full of regret. We are destined to ask ourselves, “What if?”
Nothing is more painful than lost opportunities. When we are old, we are going to regret more the things we did not do rather than the things we did do. We are going to regret the plans we never made and the chances we never took. We are going to regret the people and things we let slip away. Instead of letting the clock run out, we must take our shot. We must seize the drops of life falling before us. We must seize them and make something marvelous with them. Something more marvelous than we ever knew.
This does not mean that we should throw ourselves at anyone or anything that sparks our interest. Love is hard work and we need to cultivate our feelings if we want them to be reciprocated. Like the poet Rainer Rilke once said, “When you give someone flowers, you arrange them beforehand, don't you?” What Rilke meant was that we must offer our love with care; we must be attentive to how the person receiving our affections feels too.
So, how do we handle the fear of expressing love and affection for someone? The best way to cope with this fear is to realize that a life without love is no life at all. To hold back on love is to hold back on life itself. This does not mean love will be easy. It can, and eventually will, hurt. It will break us at certain points and it will demand everything we have at other points. However, no matter what has happened or will happen, we have no ‘real’ other choice but to follow our hearts. Our only ‘real’ choice is to live our lives genuinely and wholeheartedly; it is to walk with our heads held high on this both painful yet wonderfully worthwhile road called love.
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