Why is fear the opposite of love?

Every Course student knows that the only two emotions are love and fear. It is surprising just how much these two emotions are contrasted in the Course. That contrast starts early on and continues throughout the Course. But what is the point of contrasting love with fear?

Let’s look first at what love is. Love is a happy going out, in which your mind extends to bless and join with something seen as completely desirable, completely compatible with the self. Though we often confuse love with neediness, real love is by nature strong. In love, you are secure enough to set aside self-concern and simply affirm and include someone else.

Fear really is the polar opposite of this. In fear, an insecure self, filled with self-concern, unpleasantly recoils from something seen as dangerous. Fear is weak rather than strong, unpleasant rather than happy, self-absorbed rather than generous. It sees threat rather than desirability. And it recoils rather than extends. It is the perfect reversal of every single aspect of the dynamic of love.

Love is the mind’s natural dynamic. It wants to go out. It wants to give. It wants to join. It wants to include. It wants to love. Fear, then, is the denial of this natural dynamic. Fear is the mind negating its own innate impulse, reversing its own natural flow. Based on this, the Course makes the following brilliant point:

Fear and love are the only emotions of which you are capable. One is false, for it was made out of denial; and denial depends on the belief in what is denied for its own existence. By interpreting fear correctly as a positive affirmation of the underlying belief it masks, you are undermining its perceived usefulness by rendering it useless. (T-12.I.9:5-7)

Fear is a denial of love, a covering up of love. But to deny something affirms that it must be there, or why deny it? To cover something up affirms that it must be there. Therefore, if we can interpret fear as “a positive affirmation” of the love that it covers up, then that covering-up function is gone.

Think about this on a practical level. Notice something you are afraid (worried, nervous, anxious, apprehensive) about. Now realize that whole fear dynamic of recoiling insecurely from some external source of danger is a denial of your mind’s natural dynamic of love. It is an attempt to cover up that natural dynamic. And to cover something up just affirms that it is really there. So see your fear as an affirmation that, underneath, love is still there. See your fear as a positive affirmation of the underlying love it masks. That underlying love is now no longer masked. It has been affirmed. It has been brought into the spotlight. And as it stands forth in clarity, the denial of it has been rendered useless. As love has come forth, its denial has gone.


[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]