Some people claim that love is the opposite of fear. I don’t agree.

Experience indicates that not just life, but also “the web of our love is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together”, to paraphrase Shakespeare. How often do we live in fear of losing what we love! Parents can attest to the panic that grips their heart when they hear their child was involved in an accident or diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease. Loving does not lessen the fear; on the contrary: It intensifies the fear of loss.

After two accidents I am afraid to ride my horse, despite the fact that I love her dearly, and I love to ride. Loving does not lessen my fear. Trust, however, gives me courage to get back in the saddle again. I am convinced the opposite of fear is trust.

What is trust? It is a conviction that ultimately the world is a safe place to explore. No matter what happens, I will be okay. Whatever life brings, I have the resources to deal with it.

This conviction is natural to a small child. But a traumatized person will lose trust and struggle long and hard to regain it.

“We don’t get what we want; we get what we expect.” I don’t know where this quote originated, but it rings true to me. Wishful thinking and positive affirmations do not make the world feel safer when we cannot trust. Our subconscious expectation of danger and hardship becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The result intensifies the belief that the world is an unfriendly place where we should never let our guards down. It turns into a self-reinforcing feedback loop, and the conviction becomes stronger with every turn of events.

Fortunately this feedback loop can be interrupted. What is required is resolute determination to change your mind. Examine your thoughts, and don’t believe everything you think. Realize that your expectations co-create your experience. If that is more than your present worldview can accommodate, at least accept that a positive outlook on life makes it easier to find a light in the darkness. That’s a start.

There is a Force at work in the world here and now (not just in a galaxy far, far away) that supports our intent to heal and grow beyond fear. It responds when we sincerely reach out to it.

I have seen extremely slow motion film footage of lightning strikes. It showed that an electric charge reaches skyward from the ground a split second before lightning from the clouds connects with it. If we are fully committed to overcoming fear, we have to reach out to this Force, whatever we choose to call it, him or her. We need determination, persistence, and courage to be vulnerable. Most of all, we need to relax, breathe deeply, quiet the mind, breathe again, and listen with our heart. Opening the heart is how we reach out to the Divine like the earth’s electrical charge reaching up to the sky in a thunderstorm.

When we experience that connection, and divine lightning strikes, we regain trust. We know once more that our essence is safe, even as the world is going through chaos. We begin to form a new habit of hope, and our positive expectations begin to be met. A new feedback loop develops over time, and trust deepens with each turn.

Fear cannot linger where trust resides.