Mike was one of the most critical and angry men I’ve ever known, regularly attacking people for little or no reason. He felt unloved, alone, and miserable. And then he learned to tell the truth to a group of loving men. As they unconditionally accepted him, it was like watching a flower bloom. He lost his fear and therefore lost his need to attack people. He dropped his anger because it no longer had any use. He became a happy and beautiful human being.
Mike attacked people only because he was afraid. Everywhere I go, I see the control that fear has on the hearts of men, women, and children. We’re afraid of what people will think when we make mistakes. We’re afraid to look stupid. We’re afraid of being used. We’re afraid people will laugh at us or be angry at us.
All our fears come down to this: We’re afraid people won’t love us, and that determines what we think, say, and do all day. Paraphrasing Proust a bit,
"To goodness and virtue we make only promises; fear we obey."
We always respond to pain and fear. Mike reacted to his fear with anger. When he was angry, he felt less alone and helpless. Some other people react differently to fear: They lie or run or act like victims. These behaviors destroy any possibility of loving relationships and happiness.
Fear is a staggering burden. Afflicted with this condition, we can think of nothing else but the thing we’re afraid of. When we’re afraid, we can’t be happy or loving. We can’t be good husbands, wives, or parents.
The solution to fear is simple. We need only to tell the truth and be unconditionally accepted. But most of us don’t know that’s possible. That’s why we lie, attack, and so on. As people learn to tell the truth about themselves and feel unconditionally loved, their fears vanish. Without fear, they see the world and the people in it more clearly than they ever thought possible.
We can all learn to have experiences like this. I’ve seen it in people of all ages, cultures, religions, and so on. We can feel loved and happy every minute of the day. That’s a condition worth aspiring to.