Having dinner with a friend last night and she said, “People act either out of love or fear.” She said she learned this at a Santana concert, but I have been thinking about it ever since. If this is true, maybe we should watch our actions and discern whether we are acting out of love or fear in challenging moments. I think of how I can have so much patience for other people’s children. Then my own child starts crying or stomping and I am immediately frustrated. Am I acting our of love or fear? Usually, fear. I think if I give in, I will create a spoiled / selfish / defiant child. I no longer see him as a child who might be afraid or need me to give him love. I become fearful that I am a bad parent or he wouldn’t act this way. I am not saying this is what sticks, but this is the initial reaction. If I stop the cycle of thinking, I remember that compassion is often the key. If I stop, take a breath, and speak with my child, we get to the heart of the problem. It really wasn’t that his socks were all itchy or the tag in his shirt was bugging him, it is that there will be a fire drill at school and loud noises upset him. This is just one example. Taking the time to remove myself from the fearful state, I am able to open my heart and see my son for who he is behind the tears and whining.
For the rest of the week, watch your interactions with others. Are they based on love or fear? If they are based in fear, what can you do to change that? How do people react to you in those moments? If your actions are loving and kind, notice how it makes you feel and how it affects those around you. If your actions are compassionate and loving, keep it up. It is exactly what this world needs.