Where Anxiety Hangs Its Hat

Anxiety can hang its hat on almost any hook. It can focus on relationships, fertility, parenting, health, the world, money, career, death. Within each of these topics, there are endless sub-topics that lure anxiety into its lair. If we’re talking about relationship anxiety, for example, the hook can be: lack of physical attraction, lack of sexual attraction, focusing in any area of perceived lack (education, intelligence, social fluency, humor, wit, height, ambition), religious differences, we never had an infatuation stage, or just a pervasive sense that the relationship is “wrong”.

But what if I haven’t listed your particular hook? Does that means this work doesn’t apply to you? That’s the classic response from the anxious mind!

So when I receive emails like the following…

Have you written anything on being in a relationship with significant age gaps, socioeconomic differences or previous marriage and kids in the picture? I’m curious about Click here to continue reading...

Dream Theme: I Cheated on My Partner

A common dream theme appeared last week on my Open Your Heart forum: cheating on one’s partner. The course participant wrote:

I never remember dreams but just had one last night where I cheated on my bf with a guy I used to date and had no feelings for. In the dream I felt really bad and told my best friend I wasn’t going to tell him that I cheated because it meant nothing and didn’t want to hurt him. She told me that was really dishonest and I was wrestling with that. I am wondering now if this means I feel guilty that I am having all this anxiety and doubting the relationship and he thinks everything is fine because I act really loving towards him, tell him I love him (and I do!). But the fact that he has no idea I’m struggling with this makes me feel Click here to continue reading...

The Fear of Losing Control

When we spiral down into the deeper layers of anxiety – whether relationship anxiety or any other form that anxiety takes – we find some universal root causes that live at the center. These exist on both the emotional and psychological/spiritual planes, and they all need our attention if we’re going to heal. It requires tremendous courage and fortitude to peer directly into the root causes without the filters of projections or defenses protecting us, as when we peel away the hardened shell that has protected our hearts our entire lives, we come face-to-face with our own soft and defenseless vulnerability.

On the emotional level we find a fear of “enoughness”: Am I lovable enough, good enough, worthy enough to be loved? Of course, as I’ve discussed extensively in other posts and in my courses, this fear often first manifests as a projection onto your partner’s perceived imperfections, but when … Click here to continue reading...

Breathe It In

These are words I find myself saying multiple times a day: to my clients, to my sons, to myself. Breathe it in.

We see a prairie dog hit by a car lying on the side of the road. I turn to look at my son’s face to see if he sees it. As we live in a rural area, he’s learned over the years of seeing too many dead animals to look at the fields and mountains instead of at the side of the road while we’re driving, but sometimes his eyes veer to the telltale lump of fur.

“A prairie dog, Mommy.”

“I know, love. Breathe it in.”

We watch a snippet of news and see the devastation in Texas (or wherever the current devastation might be), and I see their faces fall. As I’ve shared in other posts, my sons try to avoid the sadness by asking, “Why?”, … Click here to continue reading...

Bored and Lonely

I shared the following client dialogue several weeks ago in a post called The Critical Moment to Break Free From Relationship Anxiety:

“What am I trying to escape?” my clients asks.

“Your feelings. Not the feelings that are attached to your intrusive thought and which you project onto your husband but your core, fundamental feelings of being human: loneliness, boredom, emptiness.”

“So all of the mental torture is because I don’t want to let myself feel that one moment of boredom?” she asks with more than a little skepticism in her voice.

“Amazingly, yes. It’s harder than we think to let ourselves feel that moment of boredom or emptiness without wanting to escape. When we really let ourselves feel it, it’s a death moment. It doesn’t last, of course, and the more we practice breathing into our painful moments, the easier it becomes. But we really have to train ourselves Click here to continue reading...