09/13/2013 01:40 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2013

What Monster of Protection Have You Created? (Guess What? It's Keeping You From What You Want)

I heard a spiritual teacher speak about her own personal experience with fear. She told us a story -- she, now in her 50s, has been afraid of heights her whole life, and her entire family (cousins, aunts, kids, parents, siblings, grandparents, in-laws, etc.) was going on a trip to Costa Rica. One of the things they were all planning on doing together as a family was zip-lining.

Needless to say, this terrified her, and she found herself unable to enjoy any other part of the trip because every moment was just counting down to the one dreaded moment where either she was going to have to bow out on her family or do something she was sure she would die from... because that's how fear works, as we all know. It literally feels like we might die.

So she said that the night before this zip-lining trip she decided she was going to meditate and face the fear once and for all. In her meditation, she saw her fear of heights as this huge monster. But instead of being mad at it, she thanked it. She told it, "Thank you for protecting me for all these years. But I don't need you to anymore. You can go now. I'm okay." See, there was something inside of her that early on in her life had developed this fear monster as a form of protection.

And this story got me right in the gut. Because all of us -- every single one of us -- has created monsters like these of our own; they are monsters that started out as good because we needed them in one way or another to protect us, but they eventually turn bad because they keep us from living the life that we want and from having the things that we want.

With regards to romantic relationships, unfortunately, I have a track record of getting into serious relationships with truly wonderful men who just happen to have commitment issues -- they're either wishy washy about marriage, are clear that they don't want to get married ever, or are pretty set in their decision that they want to live alone throughout their lives (while having girlfriends who can come over on occasion, of course).

With all of these relationships, I finally reach the point where I realize that no matter how much I do to try to make the relationship work or no matter how much we truly love each other, the guy just won't commit, and so I have to go. I then go through a range of emotions -- thinking that something must be wrong with me because if I was just better he would want to commit to me, anger at myself because all of these guys from the beginning have made it pretty clear to me how they feel about marriage but I continue with the relationship anyways, I feel stupid, I feel sad, I feel hurt, I feel embarrassed, I feel empowered, I feel nothing... and sometimes I feel that it's just a hopeless situation for me.

But hearing this story about the fear monster woke me the f*ck up. Holy sh*t, I realized. There is something IN me that only draws in unavailable guys. There is something in ME that is keeping me from drawing in a man that wants to commit. It's ME! And I'm not saying "it's me" in a blame or self-hatred sort of way. It's a part of me that I have compassion for, because at some point in my life, I felt like I had to create this monster of protection to keep commitment away. WOW.

Honestly, I don't even know what it is. I'm not even sure what exactly the fear monster was created to protect me from -- possibly the pain of heartbreak, possibly intimacy, possibly the loss of freedom, possibly it's trying to keep the belief alive that I'm not worthy or deserving because that belief has somehow worked for me in the past... I don't know. And at this point, that's okay. I don't have to know because I am at least aware that there is something I have created inside myself to keep commitment away -- even though from the bottom of my heart and soul it is something that I long for -- which is what is so ironic about it. Actually, I think most of us have created "monsters" that keep things that we most long for from coming to us. There's something in us that is scared to have it, feels we don't deserve it, is too scared of what will happen if we DO have it, too scared of the feeling of loss if we get it and then lose it...

So if there's something in your life that you really long for, but you find yourself repeating patterns that keep it from coming into your life, stop blaming the people or situations around you. Take a look inside at yourself to see what monster of protection you created to keep it from coming to you. I don't blame these guys for being commitment phobes. That is their issue; it was already their issue before I met them. In fact, they're commitment phobes because of a monster that they created to protect themselves from something! But I have to look at WHY I keep drawing them in, and why I've chosen to even get into the relationship in the first place when they made it clear from the beginning they don't want to get married, and it's something I am certain I want.

We all have the power to change our lives and begin to draw in what we long for; it starts by going inward -- with compassion -- to see what monsters of protection we have created.

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