If I'm Calm Now Is It Still Relationship Anxiety?

There is often a predictable arc to relationship anxiety that includes three stages.*

The first stage is characterized by typical symptoms of anxiety and panic:

Can’t sleep Can’t eat Tearful Depressed Bolting awake in the middle of the night Difficulty functioning at work Fluttering stomach Racing heart

On a purely physiological level, we can’t maintain this state of high anxiety for very long. Eventually the alarm will simmer down to something that feels like calm. This isn’t the true calm that arrives after working long and hard facing our fears. Rather, it’s the calm that follows the dramatic and intense storm of the first stage. It’s where psyche and soma settle into a manageable state that might be characterized more by numbness or indifference than true calm. You can sleep now. You can eat. You can function. But you’re just not that excited about your relationship. At least when you … Click here to continue reading...

When Will I Feel Better?

When you’re neck-deep and soul-soaked in anxiety, when you’re having trouble eating, sleeping, and basically functioning, when the love you formally felt for your partner has been eclipsed by indifference, doubt, or numbness, when intrusive thoughts invade your brain day and night, you will inevitably ask, “When will I feel better?” This question hits at the onset of anxiety when the symptoms are full-tilt misery, it hits when the excruciating first set of symptoms starts to abate, and it hits when people find my work and sign up for my courses. “When will I feel better?” they ask, with desperation in their voices.

My response: It takes time. As we live in a culture that conditions us to expect immediate results and relief this is soften a difficult concept to accept. Hungry? Order fast-food. Lonely? Send a text. Need a sexual release? Watch porn. Have a headache? Pop a pill. … Click here to continue reading...

Caught in the Story

Our stories form a crystal cave of stalactites and stalagmites in our minds, a cool chamber that seduces us with the promise that if we spend enough time there we will divine our answers. How beautiful this cave looks! How many promises it offers! And how familiar this cave becomes when we’ve spent thousands of hours there seeking safety from the vulnerability of childhood. Each stalactite tells a story. Each stalagmite offer the infinite details that need to be figured out.

It’s very easy to become caught in this cave of stories, to fall prey to the widespread belief of the culture and the intrinsic ego belief that we can solve our anxiety by figuring out the “answers” to the conundrums and riddles that occupy daily, human life. Yet as Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” This means that the … Click here to continue reading...

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...

Anxiety Blocks Connection

On the heels of my post from two weeks ago, which was both comforting and spike-inducing for some of my readers and course members, I’m elaborating on the topic of connection, specifically this one line:

Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone.

What does this mean? It means that when you’re trapped in the sticky thought-forms of anxiety, you’re not going to feel connected to your partner. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your connection is at its core. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent a day, four months, or two years feeling deeply connected to each other. When anxiety takes hold, it rips all of that away from you in a single moment and steals the aliveness from your life. Anxiety, while often manifesting in the body, is a head state, and if you’re in your head … Click here to continue reading...