Monday, 25 October 2021
Gillie Sutherland Gillie Sutherland

The opposite of love isn’t hate…it’s fear

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Nov 01, 2020

It’s sunrise here in Molunat as I write this.

Sunrise is probably my favourite time of day, it’s quiet, it’s still, and today I’m watching the fishing boats going out as the sky turns from pink to blue.

The fact that I am an early bird has caused controversy over the years, I remember running a fitness camp back in the UK many years back and one of the guests told me to “drop dead” because I was far too cheerful in the mornings. The way I saw it was that I wouldn’t have been much of a Motivational Coach if I was all sleepy and grumpy.

We’re never going to be everyone’s “cup of tea” and as I get older that bothers me less.

Just this week online, I was praising the efforts of a public figure for taking in a refugee into his home. Along with some more harsh remarks, I also received the response “Just took a look at your profile, you’re weird”. Little did this chap know, I took that as a compliment.

I guess we all see things differently, but it seems that there are an increasing number of keyboard warriors gunning for a fight, and I can’t help but think that it’s a reflection of the world as a whole at the moment.

Why are we all fighting so much?

For a start, there seems more polarity than ever.

We have to wonder whether this has been intentional in the case of certain Governments. In the UK I’ve never seen so much division. The Government has the public blaming each other, while the Prime Minister refuses to take any responsibility.

There’s no doubt that Trump has incited significant hatred and violence in the US, and in the run up to the election, things are more heated than ever.
The words “divide and conquer” spring to mind in both cases (although I am sure there will be some that disagree).

What seems to be happening is that we are seeing the very best and the very worst of people.

So what brings out the best and what brings out the worst?

I believe the two polar opposites are fear and love.

Many people think that hate is the opposite of love, but it’s actually fear.

Fear brings out the worst in us. It brings out the fight, flight or freeze response, none of which are useful when what we need is courage and resilience. We fight the situation we can’t control (or we fight anyone else who just happens to be around), we flee from the situation, we disengage, even take drugs to escape, or we completely immobilise, we go into shock or a deep depression.

What helps us come out of this “fight, flight or freeze” response is our “social engagement” system; we find comfort in others.


Not necessarily romantic love, but just “the willingness to extend ourselves for another”. When we do something nice for someone, it feels good, doesn’t it? There’s a reason for that. It releases a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone”, which switches off the stress response.

Then what happens is that we are in a calm, relaxed, more peaceful state, and we connect better to those around us, and we also tend to take better care of the world around us.

We can also get our oxytocin fix through spending time with our pets, by dancing, singing, or just moving to a piece of music, and drumming is also excellent.

Of course, romantic love also helps. When you’re in the warm and fuzzy first flushes of love, you’re not that likely to pick a fight with someone!

Also getting 12 hugs a day has been shown to have a significant impact on our mental and emotional health. But let’s face it, who can get 12 “safe” hugs right now?

The one thing we can all do is to do something nice for someone else.

This week I was inspired by the footballer Marcus Rashford who campaigned to make sure vulnerable children did not go hungry after the UK Government ruled against free school meals during the school holidays. His movement meant that hospitality businesses all over the UK reached out to help in offering free meals for children during half-term.

Just one kind act by one person can have a ripple effect that makes a big difference.

Perhaps not by coincidence, Marcus was playing some of the best football of his career this week.

So could love really be the answer? I think so.

But maybe I’m just weird.


Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Molunat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to


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