Love and fear exclude each other. You cannot love and fear at the same time. You also cannot fear and love at the same time. There are times when you love your partner. Those are the times when you want to support her. You delight in his growing strength. Her vulnerabilities bring out your most caring tenderness. This is how we were meant to be with each other. It is natural to love.
It is often hardest to think of spiritual growth when your circumstances are difficult, such as not having money while your children are hungry, losing your job, the death of someone you depend upon, or a crippling accident. But these are times when you can benefit the most from stepping back from your circumstance a little bit and looking inside yourself at what you are experiencing while you are in it.
You can frantically search for a way to feed your children. Or you can look at your circumstances from the perspective that everything that happens to you offers you an opportunity to challenge your fears and create constructive consequences.
There are many ways to challenge a part of your personality that is frightened. For example, you can sit down, look into your mind and your heart, go to the happiest time in your life, whether it has to do with your family or your children. Think of how much you love your children, and then open yourself to new possibilities while you are feeling these things.
Challenging the fears that control you does not make the things that you need magically appear. It allows you to see ways to do what you need to do because you are freed from the terror of not being successful, because you know that every experience you have, even one that is this frightening, serves your spiritual growth.
When can you make your best decisions? when fear is controlling you or when you are able to feel your fear and not let it control you?
Simply looking for these ways challenges every fear that you have.
Healing an addiction is one of the greatest spiritual accomplishments. An addiction is the experience of a part of your personality that is completely in the control of external circumstances.
In other words, your addiction shows you exactly what you must acknowledge, experience, and heal with your own choices in order to create a life of meaning and joy instead of a life of continual and desperate need.
I suggest you read the Addiction chapter in The Seat of the Soul, and practice the exercises in The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness and The Mind of the Soul: Responsible Choice.
There is no way around your addictions on the spiritual path.
A better question is, How can I create differently?
When you act with love, you break this cycle. You can choose differently by remembering that every interaction, even one that you replay in your mind, is an opportunity for you to act from love instead of fear, even if you have always acted from fear in the past.
For example, even if you have always shouted when you became angry in the past, you can choose not to shout this time. If you have always withdrawn emotionally when you became jealous in the past, you can choose not to withdraw emotionally this time. Nothing is stopping you from making healthy choices except the parts of your personality that want to shout, withdraw, etc.
Instead of concerning yourself with getting it right focus each moment on making the healthiest choice you can. You cannot get it wrong because no matter what choice you make you will have the opportunity to learn from the consequences that it creates.
Why not create joyful and constructive consequences instead of painful and destructive consequences?
Not forgiving is like wearing dark sunglasses that gruesomely distort what you see, and you insist that others wear these sunglasses, too. When you forgive, you take the sunglasses off.
Look at your hardship as an opportunity to do something that will benefit you. When you forgive, you take the opportunity.
Spiritual partnership is a relationship that helps you learn, grow, and change YOURSELF with the support of others who want to do the same.
At the same time, the wisdom and compassion of the Universe is visible for anyone to see. Every experience offers an opportunity to react in fear or respond with love. Both choices create consequences which again offer opportunities to react in fear or respond with love.
This is how the Earth school works.
What school could be more effective?
In the Earth school you see for yourself that you need to change in order to stop creating pain for yourself, and then you change yourself because you want to change.
You do not need to believe in the compassion and wisdom of the Universe when you can see it for yourself wherever you look.
When you begin to look at your life from the perspective of your soul, you will see your experiences differently. From the perspective of your soul, all of your experiences offer you opportunities to grow spiritually, even painful experiences such as feeling unfulfilled and lonely.
These experiences come from fear the fear that you are not enough, that you are flawed and defective, unlovable, and unable to love. All painful experiences, not only lack of fulfillment and loneliness, come from fear. They show you parts of your personality that you must heal in order to move into the meaning and joy that is waiting for you. Joyful experiences come from love, such as gratitude, appreciation, patience, caring, and contentment. They show you parts of your personality that you must cultivate in order to experience meaning and joy.
At the center of your life, moment by moment, is choice. Even when it seems that you have no choice, such as when meaninglessness and loneliness overwhelm you, you actually do. You can choose to perpetuate those experiences by dwelling in them, or instead to reach for the healthiest part of yourself that you can imagine in the moment and act on it. The more you do that, the more you free yourself from these painful experiences. You still feel them and think their thoughts, but they do not control you. They begin to wash off you like water off a duck’s feathers. They do not penetrate as deeply into you. Eventually they do not control you at all and they disappear. This is the creation of authentic power. Creating authentic power brings purpose. Living in the control of your fear cannot.