In this weekly series, we’ll offer up a little wordly inspiration to kick-off your week.
Some simple wisdom, elegant and accessible. From one soul to another.
We hope it helps you ease into your morning.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fear of Commitment
This week I had a huge a-ha moment. Like life altering huge.
I finally realized and admitted that I’m downright petrified of commitment.
I’ve never thought of myself as a commitment phobe, after all I’m a serial monogamist and once I commit I’m loyal to the core (being the devout Taurus that I am). But after some recent mind-bending craziness and a bit of soul diving, I realized that actually, I am indeed afraid of commitment.
Case in point: I’ve moved every 12.5 months (on average) since I left home in 1995. That means that I’ve lived in a whopping total of 18 homes and apartments over the last 19 years. I couldn’t commit to just one (until very recently). And even now, I fantasize about where our next landing place will be. I’m either really good at being a nomad or a bit scared to commit to just one place (probably a bit of both).
Another case in point: for the better part of a decade I’ve been quite vocal about my indecision about marriage. I’ve given every reason on the planet for not wanting to get married: until EVERYONE can marry, then I won’t / marriage is all about religion + I’m not religious / why would I change anything, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The reasons are endless. Though I still feel conflicted about whether to get married vs. not get married, I’ve come to realize what now feels painfully obvious (but that I wasn’t ready to see until now), that regardless of how I feel about the institution of marriage, the real reason why I refuse to commit, is that it’s fucking scary.
I’ve watched what happens when others commit. Family members. Friends. Colleagues. Online pals. They put 150% of themselves into something, they commit full out and they get hurt. The partnership breaks up. The business crashes. The idea never takes off. And it has happened to me dozens of times. Business partnerships have gone up in flames. People I love, die. Boys cheat. Family members let me down. These moments in life left me devastated. I felt blindsided and was in so much emotional and physical pain, I wasn’t sure I could survive it.
Just thinking about the pain is like reliving it all over again. And it’s not just my own pain that hurts. Watching terrible things happen to the people I love is equally as heart breaking. As is watching all the pain and suffering to animals, people and beings around the world. One thing I know to be true is that you don’t escape living life without your fair share of pain and loss.
So, I guess, the story I’ve been playing in my head is that commitment means inevitable pain. It isn’t a question of if, it’s a question of when. And so I’ve avoided commitment, thinking that I would therefore avoid pain.
But as Brené Brown talks about in her work, when we choose to numb ourselves to the “negative” emotions like anger, fear, rage, etc., we also numb ourselves to happiness, fulfillment and joy. Life is all about free will. So we can absolutely choose to shut down the pain, to not feel it and move on as if everything is peachy. But unfortunately we’ll also miss out on so much of life’s richness. We can’t have our cake and eat too.
If we want to feel the magic, we’ve gotta be willing to wade in the muck.
With this new observation that I’ve been operating in life with a serious commitment bias, I’ve been contemplating how to be more present with that fear. And the one thing that seems to feel the most do-able (and actually works) is to use my senses to help me feel my way through. Our senses are powerful. More powerful than we give them credit for. And they have been my own personal savior on many occasions.
Have you ever tried using your senses to be present with fear? If not, I would love for you to give it a try. The next time you have a moment where you want to shut down or avoid committing out of fear, try using one of your senses to help guide you into the present moment. This could look like, opening your eyes and really SEEING what’s right in front of you. You can even try naming those things (cat, couch, candle, window, sky, etc.). Or tune into your sense of HEARING, close your eyes, listen to each and every sound while you breathe. Or grab an object that’s nearby, hold it under your fingertips while you explore how TOUCHING the surface, feeling the fibers/materials makes you feel.
Questions + thoughts to muse on this week:
Where in your life are you fearful of commitment? If you don’t struggle with commitment, what are you fearful of? Find it and name it. And the next time you feel that old familiar feeling rise up, feel it completely first and then check-in with your senses and let them help guide you back. See what shifts, what changes, what opens up. The fear won’t ever go away, but it will help make way for something amazing, its’ close relative — named, joy.