Are your relationships fueled by love or fear?


I don’t write much about my son, now 15, out of respect for his privacy and journey to becoming a young man. But it’s not a secret among my friends that parenting a teen has been the hardest thing my husband and I have ever done. (I’m not embarrassed to admit that this weekend when we slipped away to dinner after a grueling day of negotiations with our son, the first question we asked each other at the restaurant was, “Are you having beer or wine?”)

When I was my son’s age, things between my parents and me were intense. In fact, we barely spoke (in their defense, raising three teens and four younger children had to be tough!).  I didn’t feel seen or heard by my parents and most of our communication involved yelling and fighting about who was right.

So, when I navigate choppy waters with my son, I can quickly get caught in the grips of fear. It’s easy to find myself anchoring back to how disconnected I felt from my parents when I was my son’s age and how often we stayed stuck in a cycle of fear.

Most great spiritual teachers and traditions tell us, we only ever have two choices in how we approach our lives and day-to-day interactions: from fear or from love.

When relationships are viewed through the eyes of love, we:
• trust — and allow those we love to follow their unique path (even if we don’t agree);
• practice acceptance and let go (of homework struggles, of who’s right, and so on);
• listen from our hearts in our interactions and respond in the moment;
• communicate openly and are more receptive and flexible;
• come from a prosperity mindset and see there is always “enough” time, attention, space and resources;
• see everyone’s true essence, who they really are, not how they’re acting in the moment; and
• are able to feel more compassionate towards ourselves and others.

When relationships are viewed through the eyes of fear, we
• try to control, manipulate and micromanage people and situations by thinking we always know best;
• think things are good only when they’re going “our” way;
• operate from our heads and fall into over-thinking, criticizing and over-managing;
• become reactive and get easily triggered;
• react negatively and see problems first, instead of acknowledging what’s going well;
• come from a poverty mindset and feel like there is never enough;
• punish, judge, and isolate ourselves from others.

Reading these extremes, who wouldn’t want to choose love over fear when relating to those around us? We all want to feel open, free, generous and fully available to our loved ones. But often, this is hard. It’s easy to fall into old habitual patterns –like feeling victimized, righteous, resentful or seeing what’s wrong in a situation without acknowledging what’s right. Choosing love over fear takes vigilance and a willingness to consciously choose this path, moment to moment. Again, and again.

After a tense morning with my son today and being on the receiving end of some really hurtful, unkind words, I paused.  While I could have easily picked up the phone and called my husband to hash out the before-school drama, instead, I texted my teen, “I believe in you and I love you.” Because I realize that not only is it a gift for me to tap into the power of forgiveness and the reminder that we can always course-correct, I want to model for him that we can all choose to drop our fear-filled backpacks and step into a lighter way of being. We can choose love over fear (read more). P.S. Want to win an I Choose Love t-shirt? Share in the comments section at the end of this blog post what helps you “choose love over fear” and we’ll pick a winner at random.

Want support for shifting out of fear and into connection?

  • Schedule me to speak to—or organize a retreat for—your organization, company or team on resiliency, stress management and mindfulness. Learn more.
  • Explore the idea of facilitating or joining our Personal Renewal Groups for women (in 10 countries worldwide); becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator can be a great way to support your own growth, empower women locally and learn the art of self-care. Our online training is $100 off through Oct. 31st and includes private coaching with me!
  • Self-employed and live in Texas? Join me and other soulful women Oct. 20 at Soma Vida Work-Life Balance & Wellness Center for UNLEASHED ATX for seasoned business owners. Our theme is Cultivating Discernment: How to Become Your Own Business Advisor. Learn more; early bird rate good through today, Oct. 10.mindfulness

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/speaker/author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about living intentionally, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.



  1. I choose love by focusing on what I appreciate from the day. We do this at dinner with our kids, asking them to share their favorite parts and what they learned. It’s easy to focus on all of the stuff that went wrong when the day ends and you’re tired and this pulls us back to the good stuff.

  2. Whenever my daughters and I get into an argument, I try (doesn’t always work, but I try) to think of them as babies. The pure, whole love I had for them as infants sometimes breaks me out of the arguing mode and helps us to reconnect.

    • Oh Mindy, I do this sometimes too. I keep pictures of J around the house when he was a toddler, this helps a lot. Sending love.

  3. Jill Burdick says:

    The feeling I get from each helps me “choose love over fear”. My whole body feels more relaxed, I feel happy, content, and calm when I choose love. When I let fear decide, I feel anxious, tense, and unhappy.

    • Jill I am so with you–the body is the wisest guru we can turn to for advice. It will always guide us in the right direction, right? thanks for sharing

  4. Want to win an I Choose Love t-shirt? Share here how you choose love over fear in daily life and you will be entered into the drawing!

    • Pausing and breathing deeply helps me to choose love over fear. It brings me back into my body and helps me connect with my inner wisdom. Anything I can do physically to get myself out of my head and back into my body and my heart helps: singing, dancing, painting–or stepping outside and giving a primal scream. Allowing my emotions the space to move through I’m not stuck in a fear loop.

  5. This morning, it was this blog post that helped me choose love over fear! It was a very stressful morning with my teen daughter. Try as I did to keep things smooth, it ended with me shouting just before she walked out the door to catch the bus for school. I was reeling, caught in a cycle of fear and anger afterward, when I sat down at my computer and read this post. At a loss for my own words this morning, I literally used your words and texted her, “I believe in you and love you.” She texted me back with an apology for her behavior. Thanks for providing some words of guidance when I was struggling.

  6. Stasi York says:

    I often need to take a step back, look at the situation from an outside perspective. Then I’ll say aloud, “wait a minute, how did we get here? I love you. I don’t want our (morning) to be like this.”

    Sometimes this clarity breaks us all out of our cycle, and allows us to stop the present squabble. Then we can focus on what we do want to feel like/how we do want our morning to flow.

  7. Melanie Watkins says:

    I have a lot of fear and anxiety issues. I decided to text my daughter your words too. We all need modeling and encouragement. Thank you.

  8. Jessica Shiok Maher says:

    Renee, I love the shares you reveal about your challenges with parenting. I completely understand respecting his privacy, but being a mother is such an important part of who you are and who many of us are. It is so helpful to hear your words. I have been working on coming from a place of love with my kids, especially my preteen daughter. It’s hard to over come the fear sometimes. I try to remember that my daughter has fear too. I try to really listen to what she is saying and what she’s not saying. I have confessed to her that I don’t always have the right answer or know the right thing to do. I’ve never been the mother of a 12 year old after all. But I have also been clear that I truly believe we can figure out anything if we do it together. So even though we clash at times and we don’t always handle things in the best way she knows I have her back and that I love her more than words.

  9. I tried to always choose love over fear because I totally believe these situations are what nature meant to happen. Going through these difficult times while our children are still at home, where we continue to let them know how much we love them is a true gift!

    This is how a child can leave and go off to college or whatever the choose. These are the times that help us to let go in the next few years. I believe it is all part of the plan. So much better for our sons and daughters to go through difficult times with us instead of later.

    You are just helping him to prepare of choices he will make down the road.