Relationships are one of our highest opportunities for spiritual growth. They offer us a very special kind of workshop in which to know ourselves and each other in incredibly profound ways. Because relationships require vulnerability to be successful, they also become instant mirrors for our unresolved fears. These unresolved fears usually present themselves in the form of narratives or stories we hold in our minds about who we are and what we deserve.
"Relationships become instant mirrors for our unresolved fears."
It is in our nature to tell stories and to love stories, but there is a dark side to storytelling. We can adopt stories that are negative and untrue. Too often, we are unaware that a negative story is circling on repeat in our minds and making decisions for us. It is necessary in relationships to be aware of this, because unbeknownst to you, your story can create a divide between you and your loved ones.
They can be based in falsehoods or they can be based in reality, in something we created or in something we take on from others. Either way, the story that plays over and over in your head affects your interactions and reactions to your spouse, your partner, your friends, and your family. We’ve all heard the phrases, “You’re taking things out of context,” or, “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.” Small things become a big deal when they fit into our uniquely crafted narratives.
For example, let’s say a husband cheats on his wife. Though this is painful, sadly it is not an unheard of transgression within marriage. They make the decision to work through it together and end up staying together. The wife eventually accepts what has happened and forgives him. They look to the future of their marriage and nurture it in a whole new way, and things are feeling okay. Until one evening. They attend a friend’s dinner party, and at some point the wife turns around to her husband having a friendly, polite conversation with another woman. It’s not an important conversation and is, in every way, an innocuous social interaction, but what happens? She becomes enraged. Not because of anything that is actually happening. The reality is her husband is talking to a woman at a party. But, the movie in her head is telling her an entirely different story. This story sounds like this: he’s going to cheat again, and he is going to leave me. That is her perception of the situation and her emotional reaction is very real. However, she is only reacting to a negative, fear-based story inside her head.
"It takes an awareness to begin to change them."
Another example is a child who grows up in a home where his mother is an alcoholic. Fast-forward a decade or so; he meets a wonderful woman, gets married, but if his wife has the occasional glass of wine, he becomes controlling and demanding because he’s afraid one glass of wine will lead to finishing the bottle and his wife will behave like his mother did when he was growing up. His reaction is based purely on his past reality and is completely at odds with what is actually happening in his present.
It takes an awareness of these fear-based stories to begin to change them. Once we shed Light on these inauthentic stories and fears and we stop feeding them, they begin to dissolve. Healing your story is no different than changing perspective or applying new actions. It is just another step, another tool we use to eradicate fear from our consciousness.
As Rav Berg taught: “Just as any meditation should begin with the question ‘What do I want’ a meditation to overcome phobia should begin with the question ‘Why do I really have this fear?’ Just asking the question plants the seed for the answer. But what is hidden is not the information itself. What is hidden is the desire to request the information. Dig it out and you will begin to make progress toward alleviating the fear through the memory of what caused it.”
This article is an excerpt from Monica Berg’s new book Fear Is Not an Option. Click here for more information.