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According to Eryn Donnalley in her book Facing Freedom, there are two driving forces controlling our thoughts and calling us to action: fear and love. Donnalley believes that all meaningful feelings, thoughts, and actions can be traced back to this concept. “Living in love” is a concept that brings compassion to situations in every aspect of our lives. If you are having trouble viewing someone with compassion, try focusing on how we are all seeking the same thing, we just have different paths to getting there. They may be making their decisions out of fear, but adding love and compassion to the interaction may help them to let go of some of it. Photo courtesy of PhotoPin

One way living in fear can manifest itself is through yoyo dieting. The term ‘yoyo dieting’ refers to when one goes on a diet to lose weight, achieves the loss, ends the diet, regains the weight, and starts all over. Yoyo dieting can be triggered by big events such as weddings, reunions, or vacations. It comes from a place of fear that one’s body is not good enough as is. Once the event is over, eating returns to normal which is why the weight is regained. Not only is yoyo dieting poor for mental health- reinforcing fear when the weight is regained, but it is also bad for physical health. Researchers found that women at a “normal” weight were 3.5 times more likely to experience and die from a sudden heart attack. They also found a 66% increase in coronary heart disease. Eating with love in mind, would be nourishing the body for health and energy in place of a number. 

I have found that the concept of fear vs. love is true to my life as well. For the past 14 years I have had a rocky relationship with my sister. She is undeniably beautiful, crazy competent, and the best listener. I love her to death, yet I always find myself tearing her down. As a feminist I have gone against everything I believe in as I have ruthlessly criticized her. The first step I have taken in mending my relationship with her is mending my relationship with myself. Each time I was hard on her, I was scared that she was better than me and that she therefore deserved love (be it from my parents or friends) more than I did. Coming to college in California (1,079 miles away from home), I have been able to take a step back and examine where my aggression was coming from. I have embarked on a journey of self-love and I see it reflecting in how I interact with my little sister. Now, rather than being angry with her for having nicer skin or a flatter stomach, I have begun appreciating who she is. Instead of pushing her away I want to become closer with her. Sometimes I still find myself falling back into this old pattern after extended periods at home. Fear begins to whisper thoughts like “your parents love her more because (insert ridiculous reason here)” into my mind. Rather than becoming angry with myself and taking it out on her, I take a moment to ground myself. I am amazing. I am here with a great purpose. Another stomach roll? Just more of me to love!  I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to. These tiny mantras may sound silly at first, but if you say them enough you will start to believe them and then live by them. Once I reaffirm my love of self, I can effortlessly treat her with the admiration and kindness she deserves.Photo courtesy of Unsplash. 

Living in love brings about positive intentions that can be recognized and reciprocated. Living in fear, on the other hand, is harmful to everyone involved. Fear denies you freedom and experiences. It can be confusing to those around you as well. If they are not aware that your actions come from a place of fear they are left to their own assumptions. For my sister, she believed for the longest time that I hated her. Had she known that my actions were because of how I felt about myself she could have rested easier. Living in love brings about positive change in all aspects of life.

I challenge you to live in love for 30 days. Whenever you make a decision that is holding you back, direct your attention to the underlying fear. Are you happy at your job? If not, what is keeping you there? Are you dreading writing an English paper? If so, what is keeping you from it? After all- you are paying to be writing that paper! Take note of patterns of fear or love that may arise, and see where it takes you. 

I am a freshman and bio major at Cal Lutheran University. A secret talent of mine is that I can touch my nose with my tongue! I enjoy traveling, shopping, ice cream, and Harry Styles. Follow me on Instagram @firstruleofmagic :)
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