Choices: Love vs. Fear

Two days ago I came down pretty hard and fast with what I assume is a nasty cold, and I have been thinking about how my responses to my own suffering didn’t match up with the self-compassion I preach to others.

I did decide to take a couple of days off, and rationalized protecting others from my slurping, and wheezing and germs. Colds by the way, according to PubMed, are contagious from the moment the virus enters the body until symptoms are completely gone. If you stay home during the worst cold symptoms, you may prevent giving it to coworkers, who will invariably be grateful for your decision.

The Heart

The Heart (Photo credit: petalouda62)

What I have been contemplating is how my decision to cancel my appointments for yesterday and today was so difficult. I first thought about what would be considered “appropriate”, what coworkers might think, what my clients might think, whether someone might need something, whether others might still work in my condition, how others would have no choice but to work in a similar condition, and on and on. Last on the list, but still there, thankfully, was what was possible and best for me.

Fortunately I was able to rationalize resting early in order to avoid extended  illness and/or recovery later. But I notice that I still have spent time thinking about what I should have or could been “accomplishing” in between dozing and nose-blowing, as though it were even possible with such diminished energy and focus. Many of my clients also report guilt when they are home sick from work, so I think this subject deserves some thought.

It’s just so difficult to put ourselves first. Have you noticed? I’m talking about in a loving way, not just trampling others feelings and shopping all day and eating whatever we want. There’s something unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable about taking really good care of ourselves.

Robert Holden’s most recent blog post discusses self-love and the common tendency we have to hold it out like a trophy to be awarded to ourselves only after everything else has been completed. He makes the point that self-love actually has to precede action in order for it to be effective and fear-based.

As always, I recommend you check it out for yourself to see if it’s true. Is your first response to your own pain one based in love, or one based in fear or worry about what others think? You could also check out the exercises in the chapter “A Tale of Two Selves” from Robert Holden’s book Be Happy to support your exploration.

What do you think would happen if you affirmed each day “I will love myself more today”? According to Holden,

the willingness to love yourself more is what helps you to show up fully in your own life. Self-love helps you to be less afraid of the present, because you have forgiven the past. Self-love helps you align with love, which is your true power. Now you are someone who brings love with you into your relationships, your work and your life. This is how self-love literally changes the world.

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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