For God’s Sake with William Brown: Fear or Love?

Have you ever noticed someone saying they have no choice? Maybe you even said it yourself. Researchers Barbara Sahakian and Jamie Nichole LaBuzetta estimate that we make nearly 35,000 choices a day. In fact, it’s hard to think of a scenario that doesn’t involve a choice. When we wake up, what we eat for breakfast and what we wear to work are all choices we make consciously or unconsciously. By the time we leave home in the morning, we have made thousands of decisions.

But when we say “I do not have a choicewhat do we really mean? It could mean that we feel pressured into making a choice out of fear rather than love – that we are choosing something we would rather not do. Choosing fear can mean we feel compelled or compelled to go in a particular direction, while choosing love is liberating and flexible.

Consider some big questions. Where do you send your child to college? Somewhere nearby where you can keep an eye on her or somewhere further away where you have to trust her maturity? (Fear or love for your child.) What shoes will you wear in the evening? The dress shoes that give you blisters or the sneakers that keep you comfortable? (Fear or love of yourself.) Do you walk past the homeless person assuming he will spend the money you could give him on beer, or give him five dollars believing he will afford a meal ? (Fear or love for another human being.)

One way or another, every choice has a trajectory. Decisions made out of love produce more love. Decisions made out of fear cause more fear.

When you choose from fear, you are closed off and emotionally unavailable, and recognizing a choice that stems from fear is difficult because often the fear is not strong or dramatic. It’s subtle, like a tightness in the chest or tension in the shoulders. In fact, if you’ve always acted out of fear in the past, it may just seem like a comfortable habit.

But as we become more aware of our intentions, we can just as well get into the habit of making choices out of love. We can learn to recognize and make choices that make us feel open and willing to receive others. We can benefit from its effect on us: a purifying expiration; a deep calm.

One way or another, every choice has a trajectory. Decisions made out of love produce more love. Decisions made out of fear cause more fear. Which will you choose for your picks today?

William W. Brown is Founder and Chairman of the Board of Legacy Early College. [email protected]

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