In Bed With Fear

We hear a lot about the power of fear these days, and the way we culturally/psychologically talk about it speaks to our beliefs that there are forces “out there” that are dark or evil that we need to overpower. In the early days of my work, I also spoke of fear in these terms, but over the years I’ve softened my perspective and have come to see fear as an inner bully that doesn’t need our aggression as much as our loving attention. When fear takes over, especially in the form of debilitating anxiety, it’s easy to feel like fear is the aggressor and you’re the victim. The truth (as I see it) is that “bully and victim” are two sides of the same coin, characters that are co-creating a dance that stems from pain and, when met with force, leads to more pain.

What happens when, instead of meeting … Click here to continue reading...

Nothing Lasts Forever 

For all humans, but especially the highly sensitives, one of the most difficult truths to accept is that all seasons pass, all stages come to an end, all beings die. Just as the gorgeous peach tree in full-tilt pink spring bloom drops its blossoms to reveal summer fruit, then drops its leaves in autumn’s melancholic dance to stand bare-limbed in winter, so we watch with grasping hearts as life closes out: from people and animals we love passing from this planet to childhood ending to the day’s close. What we’re resisting is the passage of time as we hold tight to a belief that says that all good things must last. It cannot be so.

Yet we try desperately to fight reality and create a world where life doesn’t die, where relationships don’t end, where sweet stages last forever. We hang on tightly with the part of us that lives … Click here to continue reading...

When Fear Washes In: Health Anxiety and Other Fears of Death

Fear is a part of life. Sometimes we can keep it at bay, but eventually, with certainty, it will creep in like a red tide on an otherwise calm beach. We try to run, but it’s faster than we are. We try to hide but it discovers all of our hiding places. Eventually we realize that the only way to effectively work with fear is to turn around and face it and to cultivate practices that push it back out to sea where it’s reabsorbed in the great vastness of those bigger waters.

Fear can show up in many ways, with many faces. We fear for our children’s health. We fear that we’re in the wrong relationship. We fear that the strange lump we’ve just discovered is cancer. I can’t tell you how many of my clients struggle with health anxiety on a regular basis. “Every time my throat hurts … Click here to continue reading...

Anxiety is a Game of Whack-A-Mole

The anxious mind can latch onto almost any topic:

What if I don’t have enough money? What if my kids aren’t okay? What if I don’t get pregnant? What if I have cancer? What if I don’t love my partner enough and I’m making a terrible mistake? What if I don’t have enough friends? What if I’m gay? What if I’m a pedophile? What if I have an STD? What if there’s a terrorist attack ? What if I’m in the wrong career? What if the plane crashes?

How many of these thoughts have you struggled with? And have you found that you can resolve one thought only to find that another pops up in its place? That’s why anxiety is a game of whack-a-mole: if you whack down one mole (thought) without addressing it from the root, another will quickly … Click here to continue reading...

The Need for Certainty

Last Tuesday we were riding our bikes in gorgeous, 70-degree spring weather. On Wednesday we woke up to a foot of snow and a power outage. There’s a saying in Colorado that goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes.” This is true every day of the year, but it’s never more true than in spring.

I find the temperamental weather here both fascinating and disconcerting. Growing up in Los Angeles, where it’s 65-70 degrees practically every day of the year, I came to rely on the consistent weather as a source of comfort. If I went to school wearing shorts, I knew I would come home wearing shorts. But here, we can leave for the day wearing shorts and come home wearing full winter gear.

Yet when I drop into the teaching, I know that living with these weather patterns has furthered by ability to deal … Click here to continue reading...