“I Wish He Was Taller”

IMG_6169 (1)I could have titled this post with any of the phrases I hear every day from my clients and course members:

  • “I wish she was thinner.”
  • “I wish he was more successful.”
  • “I wish she had better skin.”
  • “I wish he was more assertive.”
  • “I wish she had a different voice.”

But this is the one that came through a few weeks ago in a session with a client (*shared with permission), so we’ll start here: I wish he was taller. What’s embedded in that sentiment? How we respond to the unbidden or undesirable thought once it arrives determines whether we walk down the path of learning and discovery or get stuck in the tar pit of anxiety. It’s that one crucial moment that defines the choice-point and makes the difference. Here’s how our dialogue unfolded:

“When I first saw him I thought, ‘I wish he was taller,’ my client shared with me. “And then I immediately felt guilty. Why am I so judgmental? Why can’t I just feel happy to see him and focus on his wonderful qualities? He’s such a sweet, good man and he loves me so much. I feel like a terrible person for having that thought.”

“So there’s your self-judgement, which I’m much more interested in than answering those questions. We’ve been talking a lot about your self-judgement lately and how it’s the first place you go when you have an unwanted thought. Do you see it?”

“Yes, I see it. And the next place I go is to the assumption that because I had the thought that must mean that I’m with the wrong person. After all, shouldn’t I feel as wildly attracted to him as he does to me?”

Let’s stop here. The two achilles heels of relationship anxiety (or any anxiety or intrusive thought) are:

  1. Meeting the thought with judgement, shame or guilt.
  2. Assuming that because you had the thought it means… (assigning meaning to the thought itself)

Once you attach on to either of these points, you’re usually headed down the waterslide of anxiety that ends in the tarpit of muck. If, on the other hand, you can:

  1. Listen for the self-judgement then
  2. Respond from kindness and wisdom

you will set yourself down a very different path that will result in learning and healing.

We continued our dialogue in the session:

“How would you answer that question from your place of wisdom?” I asked.

My client thought for a minute, and tried to wriggle out of it by saying that she really didn’t know. I know her better than that and trust that she has vast wells of wisdom inside of her buffered by a big, loving heart. So I waited until she found her voice.

“I guess I would say something like, ‘Attraction can be confusing and I don’t have to feel attracted to him every second. It’s a normal thought and it doesn’t mean I have to leave or that there’s anything wrong with me or our relationship for having it.'”

“Yes, beautiful. Can you take that in?”

“Yes, I can.”

And this is how we set into motion new neural pathways in the brain: we respond differently to the same thought. We respond from the place of wisdom that we all have. We answer the questions in the way we would answer a dear friend. This is how we become friends to ourselves.

My client and I continued our conversation about the thought “I wish he was taller,” but now the tone had changed to one of curiosity and discovery. If we could unpack that thought, what would we find? I always encourage my clients and course members to use a simple tool called A Wheel (I include several wheels in my Break Free From Relationship Anxiety E-Course), which is basically a circle in the middle of a piece of paper with several spokes coming off the hub (like a bicycle wheel). Inside the circle is the thought or topic that we’re dissecting and exploring, and the end of each spoke contains what is embedded inside the primary thought. If I were to make a wheel for the thought, “I wish he were taller”, I would write that thought in the center of the circle, then at the end of each spoke write the following (based on this client’s story):

  • Desire for a typically masculine man (rich and successful)
  • Faulty definition of masculinity
  • Attraction is confusing (this likely will need its own wheel)
  • I would get here with anyone (the fear of real intimacy lives inside of me)
  • The thought is a defense against truly committing to my partner because if I believe the thought I would have to leave (since he’s not likely to get any taller)

Every time the thought arrives, the work is to name it for what it is (an intrusive thought), then ask, “What is needed? What is embedded inside this thought?” Each spoke speaks to a possibility, but even just asking the question removes the focus from the thought and, thus, gives it less energy. Whatever we water will grow. If we want the thoughts to stop growing, we must stop watering them, change the channel in our mind, and learn to focus our energy on what truly needs our attention. This is how we grow a different, and more peaceful, garden in our minds.

75 comments to “I Wish He Was Taller”

  • Hi Sheryl,

    I’d like to thank you for this post. It’s really great. As always. I don’t have any questions or concerns at the moment. I’ve decided to make an active commitment to myself concerning my well being. This is simply a thank you.

    Stay Amazing: Britt

    • Thank you, Britt. And thank you for all of your support to others on my site. Your generosity is a gift and speaks to your own level of inner well-being.

  • Sugar Pea

    Wow! I love the way you broke that down. It’s so helpful to read it like that. Intrusive thoughts can be a nightmare, but learning to listen and dialogue from that place of wisdom/understanding is SO important!

    I’ve experienced varying levels of relationship anxiety with my boyfriend (now husband-to-be!) over the years. A lot of my problems have stemmed from a somewhat opposite perspective. In my eyes, he’s almost TOO perfect! So creative and handsome and well-rounded that I’ve often felt completely inadequate in comparison. So instead of second-guessing him, I second-guess myself, and then end up bringing him down in the process. Ugh, it’s a cycle that used to hurt the both of us so much… Thankfully things are a lot better now. I’ve realized that it’s my thinking/inner dialogue that needs to change, and that it is ultimately me (and me alone) who must take full responsibility for my aliveness. Some days I falter, or temporarily forget, but on the whole, I feel much more comfortable with who I am and what I have to give. I’ve forgiven myself for a lot of my perceived shortcomings, and am learning how to nourish myself from my inner well.

    So thank you so much for bringing this work to light! I appreciate it so much!

    p.s. I’m also taking your Trust Yourself course right now 🙂 I just want you to know I’m enjoying it HUGELY! One of my biggest struggles in my life so far has been dealing with self-hate/body dysmorphia. Since starting your course (in the last week really!) I feel like I’ve made huge strides in learning how to listen and dialogue with my own body. I’ve learned that I crave sustenance in so many fine, minute ways, and I’m practising honouring that as best I can 🙂 So thank you!

    Sugar Pea

  • J

    brilliant. Substitute this for ‘intellect’ and you have one of my go-to intrusive thoughts. I really think that, embedded within it, is a deep (although largely unconscious) obsession with what others think, i.e. how I am perceived. Embedded in THIS is the propensity to attach too much value to externals. As one of the interviewees on the Ecourse said, I am starting to define my own values now, probably for the first time ever, and in this sense anxiety has been a (horrible, painful) gift.

  • Jkinikin

    I wish he was taller was my exact thought with my husband. I even told him so. But, I knew he was perfect for me, so I fought the feeling of running away and stayed. I’m glad I did as I would have thrown away the best thing that I ever happened to me. I never felt butterflies or had the feeling of what others describe as being in love, but I love him dearly. We’ve been married for one year and I am looking forward to sharing many more.

  • Theboxer

    Hi Sheryl, thanks for this post. As always, your articles come at the right time for me, as recently I’ve been struggling with thoughts related to attraction. I find my man very attractive, but sometimes I find intimacy in the bedroom boring because I like a dominant man and wish he would act less shy in that department. Do you think we’re doomed because we are not compatible in the bedroom? I’ve started a meditation course and it’s helping btw, I have less anxiety already

    • You’re definitely not doomed if you’re struggling in the bedroom. Please read through my posts on sex and anxiety to understand the link between the two, and my posts on sex to understand that most couples struggle in this department at some point in their relationship.

  • Lookingforansweres

    Hi Sheryl, I discovered your work around 2 years ago when I was in a very bad state with my anxiety and mood as I started a new relationship. After 6 months we got engaged and everything started falling apart…. To the point we had to cancell the wedding because I couldn’t put myself together. I had a lot of grief and I’m leaving in another country far from my family and the thought of leaving them was too much for me. During this time we started having arguments and I started seeing a side of my boyfriend that I didn’t know…. We decided to stay together and I started therapy…. I wanted to be ok and I had many thoughts about I wish he was different. Slowly I started to understand that you have to accept the person you are with…. however the issue of his anger really concerns me… When do you know it is a red flag or just something you need to accept? This causing me a lot of anxiety….he can be very mean and that hurts me and sends me into Im going to make a mistake…. I’m scared and it seems I can’t relax, this is consuming my thought life.

    • Anger is a red-flag issue only if he’s unwilling to deal with it. Many people, especially men, turn to anger because they’re conditioned early in life to discount their more vulnerable feelings. If he’s willing to work on himself through therapy and/or meditation, there is hope. I also HIGHLY recommend EFT-couples therapy to learn how to deal with the conflict between the two of you. You can learn more here:

      http://www.iceeft.com

      • Lookingforansweres

        I think he feels ashame…. So far he is not willing to speak with anybody about this issue…. All comes to saying I am too soft and too emotional and sad. He is very caring until he gets angry….he is able to insult me, shout at me, threathen to leave me and put me down…. Then he apologises but This is affecting me mentally and emotionally. Being an anxious person as I am this is causing me a lot of pain. Thank you for the great job you do.

        • This isn’t okay, especially since he’s blaming you in some way for his anger by saying that you’re too sensitive. It’s good that he apologizes but he needs to learn to heal his anger from the root – or at least be willing to be in on that path.

        • Jenny

          Dear Lookingforanswers,
          I was with a man like that (anger issues) for 6 years. I have a son with him. I tried to tell him that I thought he had a anger issue and needed to seek help as it made me very anxious every time he got angry. He always blamed me though and I felt that I was punished by his anger then left alone feeling very hurt. I left him 5 years ago. Not until this year did I realise that what he did to me was mentally abuse. Still after we broke up he made me feel guilty for ruin our family and I always questioned myself. Was it my fault? Could I have done differently? These years has been devastating to my self confidence. I lost my self trust and my self. I fell into depression. For a while even thought about going back with him, thinking it was me and If I could change then everything would be fine and we could be a family. He has promised me to do therapy so many times but in the end changed his mind and blaming me for his behaviour. So be careful! I find it extremely hard to distinguish between “normal” fighting/ arguing and verbally abuse/ mental abuse. I guess because these guys can be so lovely and charming when they are in a good mood… Sheryl, you even asked me if there was any red flags with this guy and I told you no! Because I still didn’t understand and I didn’t want it to be that way!!! I have done the trust yourself course and after that it’s taken some time to realise. After plenty of reading, journaling, spending time alone, spiritual practicing. But I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now 🙂 Thank you xx

  • Antoinette

    I have a friend who does this. The men who are potentially the best match for her she finds a way to keep them at arms length and picks over all the little things she wishes was different about them. Then the men who are obviously unavailable (emotionally or otherwise) she is instantly attracted to and she feels the need to help “fix” them. I think she is afraid to be vulnerable, to be truly intimate with another individual because then she would actually have to look within and love and accept the person she finds there.

    Once I was like this (her) too. I felt that because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t fit to be in any kind of relationship. But one day I got tired of beating myself up and not accepting myself. about 3 years into my turn around I met this wonderful man and I could feel all of my insecurities screaming at me. Those “I wish” statements would try to convince me that I wasn’t meant to be with this man. I found this website and read the articles about relationship anxiety and thought “Oh, this is why I feel so crazy inside!” Between those articles and another site I learned to relax and be vulnerable. It wasn’t easy and every day isn’t sunshine and rainbows. However, that man is now my husband (6 month anniversary in a few days) and I am proud of myself for not pushing him away.

    I hope that one day my friend finds the strength inside to stop being so judgmental of herself and others. I will forward her this article.

    • And you should be proud of yourself. It takes a tremendous amount of inner fortitude and courage to work through the barriers that want to keep us separate from love.

  • Nicole

    Your posts always make so much sense to people like us! It’s like a breath of fresh air. Thank you for the work you do, from the bottom of my heart. It helps so much knowing we are not alone and having someone to help navigate us through the anxious and false thinking.

  • H

    Sheryl,
    What if your partner is really quiet and doesn’t initiate or engage in conversation? My partner is like this and it leads to many forced conversations or awkward silences. I wonder how much of that relates to not having a good connection therefore, are we crossing into yellow flag territory?

    • Kat

      H, I am in a very similar situation myself, so I definitely would like to hear Sheryl’s opinion on this. But I have given the topic a lot of thought myself and this is what I’ve come up with. I tried to think of why the silences bothered me so much and I traced it to exactly what you thought, lack of a deep enough connection. Sometimes the silences would bother me so much that I would just spiral into the thought process of “Oh we’re not talking again, he’s not interested. This clearly isn’t working.”, which created anxiety over future conversations, like “why make the effort to talk, it’s not like he’s listening”. Finally it got to a point where I just had to call him on it, I let him know that sometimes when he gets quiet like that it worries me that we’re not having a good time together. He was totally surprised by it, he hadn’t even noticed the silences, they had not made him uncomfortable in the least. It was like a switch went off, not that he became this huge chatterbox afterward but it was one of the first things that I felt bonded us. I was feeling uncomfortable and I let him know, he (thankfully) responded to it positively and now we have that line of communication open. It was a relationship milestone I think, because sometimes (especially when it’s new) we’ll keep all of the things that we think may cause friction in our heads (disagreements, annoyances etc.). The trouble happens when you start to draw your own conclusions without giving your partner the benefit of the doubt or the chance to explain it themselves. You may be surprised at what they say.

      As for the connection part, I think the root of that is the longing for someone who “gets” you. Connection itself doesn’t just happen, kind of like love doesn’t just happen, it has to be fostered and tended to. Someone doesn’t just know you, they have to work to get to know you and you have to work to let them get to know you. Now as far as how to foster and tend to a relationship, I don’t have a roadmap for that. I think it differs from person to person and I am still learning that with my partner myself. But I do say that you should approach the situation with curiosity versus fear, as I am always reading on this site but just now really understanding the meaning. So your partner gets quiet, don’t get fearful and anxious wondering if it means you guys aren’t well matched or that there’s no “chemistry” there, maybe look at it from the point of “what do I think this silence means, what in this exact moment supports this?” Or “how can we change this, what point aren’t we meeting at” and go from there. Someone feel free to chime in if I’m misunderstanding our situations or misreading the message on this blog but hopefully I’ve summarized it well enough. I hope it helps!

  • Ballerina03

    Hi Sheryl,

    I just discovered your work not long ago while doing some research. I have been diagnosed with OCD and have been in therapy over a year. I’m dating a wonderful man that I’ve been with over 3 years however, he was married before and has children. I struggle with his situation and my ocd makes it even worse. We’ve broken up a couple of times but we can’t seem to stay away. I seem to let it bother me a lot and take it out on him for not understanding. My doubt kicks in and I worry about a lot of things especially the future. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you.

  • Brittani

    Hi Sheryl,

    I found this little Sapphire online and I thought it was really amazing!

    “Not sure how to begin this but basically I want to tell you guys of my personal journey and struggles with OCD, anxiety disorder, and depression and how I got myself out of this nightmarish experience. My struggles all started a few years ago when I contemplated leaving my wife due to a series of arguments. I started questioning if I really loved her and if maybe someone better is out there for me that’s more compatible. At the time in my gut, I really felt that my soul mate was out there waiting for me somewhere and I’ve made a mistake in my marriage. Since that time I began having panic attack after panic attack and a branching off of obsessive thoughts about other subjects, ocd symptoms started to rain down. It’s like if all I believed in suddenly didn’t make sense anymore. I began seeing images of hurting her, stabbing her, had intense anger that wasn’t appropriate towards her, etc. I knew she was the wrong person for me, she couldn’t give me what I needed. I was trapped, I became depressed, I began to associate her with my problems and started to develop a phobia of her. I’d constantly check myself to see if I really love her and if I do how come I feel this way. Relationship OCD I guess. It’s like I love and care for this woman, and have been with her all these years yet something was missing. As I became more and more stressed I developed high blood pressure and a whole lot of strange aches and pains. My mind and body were falling apart.

    One day I read about some guys gay OCD symptoms on the boards and started to dwell on it. Said to myself don’t think about it, don’t think about it, but the more I tried not to the more I had to. I started to have nightmares, insomnia, tinnitus, night sweats, sleep paralysis. Man, you name it I had it. Despite my hellish experience, I didn’t choose to seek medication and decided to stick it out. I did lots of cognitive behavioral work on my own, read many books on marriage and relationships. Eventually, I sorted out my doubts about my marriage and learned that it doesn’t matter, that there is no “answer” to love and it doesn’t matter if you have doubts about your feelings. Many people do and it’s normal. I eventually learned that love is not something out there that serves you to make you feel good all that time. I learned that all the things I felt marriage was supposed to GIVE me was not owed to me but what I had to build. I finally saw how selfish a person I really was and decided to do things more for other people instead of taking and expecting. Eventually, I learned to let things go and that was the beginning of my slow road to recovery.

    Even after I started changing myself for the better, the effects of my depression, anxiety, and OCD have really taken a toll on my mind and body and was taking on a life of it’s own. I started improving by learning to let go of my over concerns for feeling good. Here was the key for me, once I gave up having to feel perfect that was when I actually started getting better. One guy at work who has lifelong insomnia told me that my insomnia was nothing. He told me I was just an amateur insomniac he said, “you gotta be like me, and not give a shift”. I couldn’t accept that initially, but eventually I understood that by not accepting my problem I was making it worse. My insomnia started to lift when I didn’t care that I only got 3 hrs sleep. At my worst I had only 2 hrs a night. I said to myself if I got by on 2 hrs before then me only getting 4 hrs today is pretty damn good. So I was able let that go eventually. I was tired as hell at work but I dragged myself through it all. My gay OCD I started to conquer when my sister asked me if I still liked girls. I told her yeah. But I can’t stop looking at men. Eventually I saw that the way I look at men and women are totally different. When I look at men I look at them because I am scared that I’d be attracted to them and that gives me anxiety. The more I “look out” for guys that I may be attracted to, the more of apprehensive I get and the more I keep looking out for men. This is hypervigilance but it’s looking out for danger not due to attraction. When I look out for women it’s totally different. I guess many people when the “check” themselves and their reactions this way, it perpetuates the cycle. I always obsessed in my mind of performing homosexual acts with other men. Then I’d check my reaction and sure enough when I concentrate on my genitals some reaction takes place. To quote George Costanza I think IT MOVED! that slight movement happens and I think oh hell I AM GAY… that went on and on for the longest time. Eventually I got to seeing the right way to look at this. Eventually I said to myself what’s the worst thing I can be? Bisexual? So what? Bisexuals can choose, what’s your choice? When it came to having sex with men, I asked myself is this what I want? My answer was no. Do I PLAN on actually pursuing a homosexual encounter and reenacting these scenarios in real life? My answer was hell no. Do I plan to? No. So do I want to? No. Eventually after a long time, I could let that go. Like my insomnia once I stopped caring about the worst case scenario of being bisexual, the fears started tapering off.

    Digging deeper I got to the understanding that all my obsessions, these thoughts, these impulses, everything was basically this. Stress and anxiety induced hyperactive Imagination. All those intrusive thoughts was just my imagination. Ever since I was a kid I always had my heads in the clouds. I’m a person who never was present in the moment. I constantly had my mind in other places. When I see myself hurting others, doing things I don’t want to etc it’s all part of my obsessive imagination. An over active imagination that has been induced by my underlying ambivalence to marriage, life and the future I suppose. In any case the more I came to realize this the more I could release my obsession with my obsessions and anxiety if that makes any sense. When I stopped running from my own crazy imagination and just let them be, the less they occurred. I started taking care of myself, so that I can better take care of the people close to me. I started giving more instead of expecting more from life. I changed my diet, had better sleep habits, took up new interests, and all that opened up the clouds so to speak and I saw the light. I learned that there is a true me underneath all my twisted thoughts. That when I’m mad, depressed, happy, or frightened it’s all transitory, all temporary.. emotions are temporary, and that there’s something greater behind the scenes, that is the true me and I got in touch with that aspect. I saw the undercurrent of my own being if you will, who I am, who I was, and know now that it’s up to me to become who I want to become. Thoughts, feelings, emotions… I guess in the past that’s all I thought being alive was about… but when your thoughts betray you, and emotions betray you… what’s left? I was in despair because I couldn’t answer that but later I understood. There IS something else and we are more than just our thoughts and just our feelings.

    I’m not 100% cured, however. I think after a long period of going through these stresses and brain chemistry problems I’ll never be 100% again. I’ll always have a few pangs of anxiety now and then and slumps of depression every once in a while but it’s different now. I can let them come and go and when I take that attitude they do go rather quickly. No, I’m not cured and I still have lifelong issues to work out, but I know I will get them worked out because I’m determined not lie to myself anymore and I’m not as afraid of what may lie ahead for me. To highlight one example of how I’ve changed my mindset. I used to listen to people and never drink coffee or tea fearing the caffeine will set off another panic attack so I avoided it drinking anything with caffeine for a long time. Now I say I think I’m gonna have a nice hot cup of strong coffee, what’s the worst that can happen another panic attack? Well, it may or may not come, but who cares in the mean time I’m gonna enjoy my coffee damn it! I may no longer be ‘the way I was’ anymore but that’s okay. That was a big problem for me, I was so angry and felt so cheated by life I wanted so desperately to be ‘the way I was’ why me why me!? I used to lie in misery every night asking God why did you let this happen to me?! Eventually, I got the answer to “why me” The answer is, It’s all because of me! No, a bolt of lightning didn’t strike me, nor did a divine voice speak to me. I got the answer on my own and I did it through hard work and perseverance and digging deep. Now I understand that in many ways even if I’m less “mentally healthy” now I’m becoming a much better person because of it. Someone that I can be proud of. I finally let the NEED to feel perfect all the time go.

    I just want to tell everyone to not give up on yourselves and to take a stand, face your fears and let your preoccupations and obsessions go, you do that by accepting how you are in all your misery. It’s very hard to accept but acceptance is really the first step to recovery. Can you accept it? I know I couldn’t for a long long time but eventually, it comes. As long as you have hope, try hard, and know that even when you have nothing left there is still more. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions, don’t blame anyone, don’t expect others to fix you. Nobody is coming to fix you. You gotta know how to be strong enough to fix yourself. I’m sure there are many success stories out there but maybe not many want to say anything and move on. Maybe that’s why all we read about here are symptoms and problems. Hopefully, you folks who have found the road to recovery will, like me, come back here to tell of your journey too. Good luck.”

    Frank

    • Brittani

      Also, I don’t know why my name jumps from Britt to Brittani on here. Is it something that I am doing?

  • Ella

    I have been widowed nearly 16 years, and engaged twice since then. I ended the last engagement because I wasn’t physically attracted to him (his nose was too big) and we didn’t share the same faith (I am an evengelical and he is a Theist). Otherwise he was a good fit for me in many ways. I never wanted to kiss him or get physical though and hated the elephant in the room of our faith disparity.

    I am relieved to have made a decision but wonder if I will ever find someone to marry because of my perfectionism.

    • Could your perfectionism be serving as a protection against the fear of loss, since you know first-hand and up-close what loss of a dear loved one to whom you’ve committed your heart and life feels like?

  • Mr B

    Hi Sheryl,
    Great article. Would it be also fair to say that the ‘i wish ‘ is the ego mind talking to us? Ultimately this thinking would serve no purpose hence why they are intrusive thoughts?
    Let me know your thoughts
    Mr_B

    • I’m not clear on your question, Mr. B. Can you ask it in another way?

      • Mr_B

        Sorry Sheryl, what I mean is similar to the ‘what if’ of the ego mind does the ‘i wish’ also come under ego mind thoughts?

        Mr_B

        • Yes, quite likely. The words ego uses are less important than the tonal quality and intention behind them.

          • Mr_B

            Completely agree! As what if she/he were taller could almost sound like I wish he/she was taller… To me almost sounds like a similar thought.

            Thanks Sheryl

  • Steph

    Hey Sheryl,

    Great article, it really spoke to me.
    I found your work a few months after i started having intrusive thoughts and anxious feelings about my relationship. It all started with one thought and it kept escalating and now i feel like my only option is to leave and that i really want to leave in order to feel relieved and “happy”. I’ve also been having thoughts like you described in the article “I wish he was funnier” and stuff like that. He is a great guy and definitely someone whom i can build a future and grow with even though most of the time these past few months i can’t see that. He’s loving and caring and very supportive of me. I also talked to him about all this that I am feeling and he really tries to understand what I am going through.
    Your work is really helping me push through and not leave a great guy. I am planning to start your Breaking Free e-course by the end of this month!

  • Jess

    Your post deeply resonates with me as I sometimes have this very same experience with my partner. When it happens, it opens old shame wounds and it can take a while to surface from that rabbit hole.

    But I also have this to say; you will call it a fear wall but I feel the need to mention it nonetheless: You make the assumption that your client would do the same thing regardless of who her partner is. In other words you have clearly established a pattern of behavior in which she consistently finds fault in every partner she is with. She nitpicks the relationship to death.

    Is this true? Or is it also valid to ask why she has chosen to be with a shorter guy when she prefers taller men? On average men are taller than women, so there really shouldn’t be a problem finding a man who is taller than she is, unless she’s extraordinarily tall. I really only see this as a problem if she has an established pattern of behavior or her preferences are so specific as to be self limiting by design (for example, I like guys with blonde hair and blue eyes vs. I like guys, and only guys by the name of Brad Pitt).

    Feel free to pick this assumption apart but in my humble experience, in couples that are made up of two well adjusted individuals who know themselves, like attracts like. In other words, if you know your self worth and honor your own proclivities, however irrational (perhaps cultural, biological or one’s personal story), two people can find a partnership wherein both partners are genuinely excited about the other. This is opposed to a dysfunctional relationship such as the one described in this article, wherein one partner is deeply attracted and the other is holding her partner at a distance, unsure and often un-attracted.

    Of course there are issues of sustaining attraction over time but that is not the focus of this particular article.

    • Your comment is very intelligently written and speaks to the dominant mindset of the culture: if it’s not perfect, walk away and find someone who meets your ideal. Yes, she has established a pattern of nitpicking, which she clearly knows about herself. And she also knows that she has something incredibly rich and meaningful with this man that she would be losing if she walked away because he doesn’t fit her physical ideal. Yes, she could easily find a taller man, but without a doubt she would find fault in another area. There are no perfect people, no perfect partners. We choose according to our values and deepest needs, and then we work with fear as it arises until it eventually falls away and we find ourselves with an imperfect form of love that we cannot imagine living without.

      • Jess

        Your point is well taken and in light of your response the article makes even more sense to me. Let me be clear that I have followed your website for some time and find the personal work you present as invaluable for healthy interpersonal relationships and working with an anxious mind in general. So thanks for that.
        I do still however feel that those that have won the cortical lottery (or done the work) and do not face anxiety like many of us here do, are allowed the luxury of simply picking a partner that “feels right”. Attraction is not a one size fits all, and I see nothing wrong with that if your self esteem is well intact and what you are attracted to is reasonable (i.e. I like guys taller than me, not I only will date a professional basketball player). Choosing to be with someone you are inherently not attracted to of course can be done and it can be healthy but if you’re doing it because it feels like the “safe play”, that is something to look at and examine.
        I find the idea of being physically attracted to your partner to be akin to the same effortless desire to want to have children (largely a desire out of your control). Of course there is a time and a place for this and cannot be sustained over time but to discount it altogether does not seem to me to be entirely honest either.

        • Well-said, again. I find it interesting that you compared natural attraction to the desire to have a child, as this is another area where fear can eclipse “effortless desire”. Many, many women – especially those who are prone to anxiety – move forward with their decision to have a children despite a lack of effortless desire. Does that make it wrong? Not at all. Are they any less bonded with their child once he or she arrives? Absolutely not. Do they regret their decision? Nope. The achilles heel is to equate natural attraction or desire with the ultimate health of a relationship. Of course it’s lovely when it’s there, but many people have to work through layers of resistance before they can access a sense of ease, and to tell them to “walk away and find someone with whom it would be easier” is advice that lands many people on the path of perpetual monogamy at best or solitude at worst.

  • Jessicabythebay

    Hi Sheryl,

    Thank you for this breakdown. I’ve been following your work for a few years now and feel like i’ve grown some of the new neural pathways you referenced, but it’s always, always good to be reminded. There’s so much out there that feeds the insecurity and anxiety. We have to come here to feed the wisdom place.

    Question: my husband and I had a big fight last week and i’m still hurting about it. I felt like he was really nasty at times. When I called him out on it he said, “We’ll i’ve been kind about this issue before and nothing has changed, so maybe that’s why i’m being unkind now.” I was horrified that he was blaming me for his unkindness and it really scared me. It reminded me of my dad’s unbridled anger and terrifyingly artful way of getting me to take responsibility for “stuff” that wasn’t mine. I’m seeing my therapist tonight to deal with the pain and fear. But, I also think i’m having the intrusive thought of “He’s just like dad. I have to leave. If I don’t leave, i’ll be a victim.” In many ways this is stronger and scarier than the “He’s not tall enough” type intrusive thought. I guess what I want to know is, is it possible to have an intrusive thought about something that bears discussion in the relationship (i.e. an unfair comment like he made)? I feel all mixed up about this and want to know what’s the action i need to take on the outside (i.e. talking to my husband about ground rules for arguments) and what’s the action I need to take on the inside (detaching from the intrusive thought).

    • This sounds more like a projection than an intrusive thought. Yes, the issue itself needs attention (as will always happen in marriage), but you also need to recognize the truth or falsity in the statement, “He’s just like my dad.” Is he “just” like your dad, or does his anger and subsequent attempt to blame you for it remind you of your dad? It’s important to be clear and specific with ourselves so that we don’t overlay unhealthy past relationships onto current healthy ones.

      • Jessicabythebay

        Boy, the nuance of all this is hard to grab onto sometimes. But, of course, you’re so, so right. His anger reminds me of my father’s anger, they are not the same. We have been talking about TTC soon and so I know my fear walls are wanting to come up. Looking for anything to latch onto. Of course this is happening. Of course it is. Here comes more pain about being the scared little person in the presence of my dads extreme narcissism. Time to let the tears come. Thank you, Sheryl. ?

  • JEAN MARIE

    Thank you so much for this, Sheryl! One of my ongoing intrusive thoughts has been, “His voice/manner of speaking bothers me. Since he can’t change his voice, I must be annoyed by it because I don’t like/love him.” His deep, rich voice was initially one of the things I found most attractive about him, so I was very alarmed when I started to be bothered by him being monotone on the phone or dropping into vocal fry when we talk. We have been together over 2.5 years, and he is a wonderful partner: hard-working,intelligent, funny, affectionate and handsome. I often have an accompanying intrusive thought that “because I focus so much on his ‘flaws’ I don’t deserve him. He deserves someone who knows how to love unconditionally/doesn’t have depression.”

    I am currently seeing a therapist to untangle several of my OCD driven false beliefs.

    Thank you so much for this article!

    • Yes, just replace “I wish he was taller” with “I don’t like his voice” and this article, as well as all of my work on relationship anxiety, applies directly to you! And, by the way, the theme of voice comes up quite frequently in my work, and came up on this past round of Trust Yourself with one of the callers, so you’re far from alone.

  • Jealous

    Sheryl,
    I don’t know why but I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2 years now and I still go through periods of times when I get insanely jealous of his past with other women, it makes me so angry and I take it all out on him. I can’t stand the idea of him being intimate with other women, it hurts almost as bad as if he had cheated on me. I know I’m wrong and this is a problem that I need to fix with myself, he’s so great to me and never gives me any reason to feel jealous but sometimes I find myself obsessing over his past and throwing it in his face, why do I do this after 2 years of a faithful relationship and what do I do to stop feeling this way?

  • Anxious

    This completely relates to how I feel. I have been in a very amazing and happy relationship but I find myself nitpicking every single thing. It makes me wonder if he is the one or not, if I should leave etc yet I feel truly happy. I am so confused about my thoughts and feelings that I just do not know what the right answer is.

  • Jess

    Sheryl,
    I have found great relief from your website. All of the reoccurring thoughts I have been dealing with are talked of somewhere in your blog. I really can’t thank you for your work and allowing me to realize you’re not supposed to have butterflies 24/7 when you are in real love. However, during my intrusive through period I wan unable to sleep and now my thoughts have been lessen but I am still unable to sleep through the night. I wake up worrying that I won’t be able to fall back asleep. I’ve been getting on average 3 hours a sleep per night for the last week. Now I’m starting to worry that my inability to sleep is due to my partner again. That maybe my anxiety regarding my boyfriend didn’t lessen. I’m not sure what to do. I just want to be able to sleep again and not worry about why I can’t sleep and stop worrying that it’s my partner.
    Thanks for everything you do.
    Jess

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl, you have just given us great examples of how tp describe anxiety and how to
    Change our intrusive thoughts. Easy tools to follow. Thanks so much for your amazing and incredible support. ?

  • Francine

    Hello, Sheryl. I’ve been making my way through your articles for a couple of months now and I have learned so much. I’m still struggling hugely, however. I don’t have the confidence to know that I am correctly applying your advice to my own, personal situation with my partner. My thoughts about my relationship are ruining my life. They can range from an almost wordless hum of ‘wrongness’ about him/us to screaming intrusive thoughts about not loving him. It’s hideous. He is such a wonderful person; the closest to a ‘soul-mate’ I could ever have imagined and loves me almost akin to the wonderful love I have received from my parents. I wake up every day in dread and panic, yet I can’t cry and feel flat most of the time. I feel like a psychopath. I’ve totally lost myself in this struggle. This began happening very early on in our relationship; a matter of weeks. No sooner had we said ‘I love you’ and I’d started to sense I might have found someone to truly love and love me, my mind starting rejecting every part of him. Sticking like Napalm to all of his ‘annoying’, ‘undesirable’ traits and habits. I cannot express how miserable this is. I can’t wait for it to end. I am more than willing to do the work, but I can’t escape the strong pull of my thoughts…and feeling that we must somehow just be wrong. I’ve tried to label them as Fear, but I can’t ignore the huge disbelieving part of me, despite how much I do not want this to be my truth. I know that I could just leave him, but I don’t want to. Something is keeping me here, no matter how small. I don’t want to be in this same position in 5, 10 years time, somewhere else, with someone else, and realise that the problem was in me all along. Thank you for listening. Francine. xo

    • Anxious

      Francine,
      I am not an expert at all but I am in the same boat, pretty much 100% as you described. It is miserable, crippling and quite honestly depressing at times. I have signed up for Sheryl’s course because I could not take it anymore. It is barely day 2 for me and it has helped but obviously not solved everything yet. Anyway my point is that there is something that is making me hang on. Ever since I realized I loved him, the horrible thoughts have not stopped except for about a month recently for a reason that I do not know. During that time I had so much clarity and found a way to completely ignore my negative thoughts. I felt so extremely happy and I had no idea why I had ever doubted him so much. Those moments of clarity were quickly ripped away, again for a reason I dont know. My point is to hang on to those moments of clarity. I am still so unsure but I figure that if we are going to these extremes and sticking around even though we are dealing with so much pain, there must be something amazingly right about our partners.

      • Francine

        Anxious, thanks so much for your response. My heart aches for you, as I know precisely what it is you’re going through. I’ve had those moments of clarity too…my mind goes quiet and I am filled with sunshine. Tragically, they only last a matter of days…the longest I’ve gone is up to a week at a time in that blissful state. As you say, in these moments, the ruminations and intrusive thoughts seem like pure madness. I don’t know how I could have ever put myself under so much pressure. ‘Pressure’ is key for me, I think. I’m not certain, but these blissful moments seem to follow a kind of ‘surrender’. I calmly soothe myself by saying, ‘it’s okay, you don’t have to feel anything…it’s there, it’ll come naturally’. Sometimes, this works, other times it does not. I hope that these glimpses of bliss are my truth. I’m so willing to work hard, but I just wish someone could assure me I could make it out the other side. I find that a comforting thought, too…that there must be a GOOD reason for why I am fighting through this emotional hell. Lots of love to you.

    • M

      I can relate 100% to this. I am married to a wonderful person but yet I have these horrible thoughts that I don’t love him, I am just convincing myself to stay, I am living a lie, other people seem so much happier than me, etc. I worry I will always feel this way. It’s terrible.

      • Francine

        I’m so sorry you’re feeling & thinking this way. I am having a particularly rough few days. I hate myself for the things that go on in my head (yet my mind tells me I don’t hate myself ENOUGH for what’s going on in my heart and head). I try not to get involved in my ‘inner melodrama’, as Michael Singer says in The Untethered Soul, and not make judgements about my thoughts…but not reacting with anxiety makes me feel like I’m dead inside. I am trying to absorb Sheryl’s teachings, but it’s so hard alone. I also keep having the recurring thought that I will do all this work, reach a point of love, contentment and clarity (the kind I want to have…that shows me my partner is the person I ultimately want) but that as soon as doubts set in his own mind, he will flee. Surely healthy long-term relationships only work if you both do the inner work…? :'( it is so miserable. I have no energy.

  • H

    Hi,

    I have done your concious weddings e/course and open your heart. After a really horrible few weeks I started to just work withe the fear instead of just pushing it away. Now I am feeling numb. I have had a good day at work so I feel okay in general but I still feel kind of numb in general. It’s hard not to latch onto this and feel desperate to feel the loving feelings. So I have been speaking with my LA and saying ‘it’s okay. It’s okay to not feel anything. You have been feeling anxious for a while so of course when you aren’t you can expect to feel good straight away! It will come back!’ I want to feel love so badly because I know he is a good person. I hVe seen it says you do a course called ‘ how to have the greatest relationship of your life’ I was wondering if that is still available? I want to make this the greatest relationships of my life. I don’t want to leave. I want it to be better. I want to take responsibility and make this really great! Would you recommend this course or shall I just go over the open your heart course marital again?

  • Agathe

    Ivtalked about your work with my therapist and she validates everything you write about in your blog. Not that I had doubts about it (everything you say makes me feel better) but just knowing that you’re such a reliable person on the shitty internet is storming I am grateful for. It helps me ease my anxiety on days when my anxiety is bad ! Thank you

    • J

      I have the same experience. I actually find that most of my therapy sessions are taken up by me working through the ideas I’ve discovered on the blog/ecourse. But as my therapist noted, I am living far too much in my head, i.e. in the realm of ‘ideas’.

  • LightAtTheEnd

    I guess…that until you developed a good amount of self trust…it’s difficult to decipher the thoughts that are fear based from the thoughts that speak your truth….that’s the work!!! I just wanted to write to say I emphasis people out there who are trying but are a bit stuck with this!!! Neural pathways are very difficult to alter…and it’s can’t just be superficially done…as the thoughts just reappear unless tackled from the root.

    Because I’ve neglected developing the wisdom and truth, and signed up to the modern culture of ‘love’…my inner voice feels weaker and far less convincing. Actively doing the wheel and tackling the issue in this way really allows you to understand the issue on a deeper level.

    I think the part of the wheel I’m struggling with lies with…comparing…and fantasising…both ugly features even when met with compassion!

  • Rp

    Having followed your blog and been a ‘conscious married’ for a few years now, it’s so interesting to see this blog post come up. Height was a major sticking point for my anxiety for a while, and it has now transferred its focus onto my baby boy. My son is very small for his age (on the 3rd percentile or thereabouts), with no medical concerns- he is perfectly healthy and happy. However I am so anxious about his length and how being a small boy/man will affect him as he grows up, it’s become an obsession. I sound completely insane when I admit this, so thankfully this is an anonymous place, but I had been measuring him near daily with the prayer he would have grown, or I had been measuring him incorrectly.

    My husband and I are by no means Giants- in fact we are both short, and a number of people use this to ‘reassure’ me when any comment about my son’s height is mentioned.

    I think for me the height has something to do with feeling lack of power- although I’ve never known my size to stop me from doing what I want. Once I was at a sporting match with my husband, and there were a group of guys behind us making stupid comments, so he told them to pipe down. As he stood up to go to the bathroom, thy started laughing amongst themselves about his size- it was humiliating.
    I don’t want my son to experience that.

  • Lili

    Hi sheryl, firstly I am very thankful as this post came at the right time for me, the tallness issue has been there from early days and years into marriage it ystill gets highlighted when I am in my dark days. This in addition to ‘cuteness’ together. I am at the point to belirve that physical attraction is imp, otherwise why havent I comeover it? But I understand I neex to find the root, ihave been thinking about it a lot and I gurss faulty defenition of attraction and fear of failing are the two underlying causes. However I have meant to ask this, most people on the foroum seem to havr difficult backgrounds either in relationships or with their parents (like unloving parents, abusive pasts, difficult childhood), but luckily I havent had any of that and I come from a very healthy family and always been cared by my parents and friends. Im staring to wonder if I might be an exception because of this, and its my relationship rather thsn my inner world, I wonder if you had patients with caring families and fine background?

    • It’s a common question. Yes, many people who find their way to my work come from very healthy, loving families. Are you on the e-course forum? StephanieG and KD just came back after many years to post their update stories, and both of them come from very loving families. (They’re both doing wonderfully, by the way!)

  • M

    Hi Sheryl,

    I have visited your site frequently and commented a few times. Last week my fiance proposed to me and eventhough I have wanted this for the last two years, I freaked. I had a feeling he was going to do it the day of, and as we drove to our destination I felt such an impending sense of dread. When he asked me I could barely get the word ‘yes’ out, I wanted to vomit. Instead of yes I felt, I don’t know, I just don’t know. In the days following I have been a mess and crying all day, overcome with dread and anxiety. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I dreaded when someone noticed my ring and reacted enthusiastically. I don’t understand why I have felt so much dread. I think I am coming out of it now and I wanted to share some revelations I had.

    Right now my partner and I are not as connected as we once were. (We have been together for 3 1/2 years) We are preparing for a move across the country for his job and we have been so busy. I think my brain has interpreted the lack of time spent together with a lack of love for him. I’ve been trying to spend more time with him since we got engaged and I have found the feelings of love increasing (prior I had been experiencing a lot of irritation).

    What has also really helped, is that I have purchased some marriage help books. They are geared towards people who are already married, and it is a wonderful reminder to me that marriage is work and that a good partner is someone you can work with (and my partner definitely is). I think I felt dread at the proposal because I felt I wasn’t in love with him enough, but reading these books (and your blog) is a good reminder that even the couples who are in love with lightening bolts coming out of their eyes eventually find their way to a place of work within their relationships. My partner and I definitely felt deep feelings for eachother when we first starting dating but they never were the kind that movies are based off of, and as we have dated those feelings have faded but a love is still there, just not as intense.

    I am realizing the difference between ‘in-love’, which is an exciting and lovely hormonal high and a marriage committment which is a committment to a shared experience, to choosing to express love on a daily basis, to creating a support system for the two of you and vowing to share intimacy and respect. In a way they are two different things which often get merged together, ‘in-love’ is a wonderful chemical feeling whereas marriage is a choice, and a spirtual practice of sorts, one that can’t be shared with just anyone but can be shared with someone who is respectful and kind and equally interested in sharing and working on the experience of what it is to be married. This is a person you choose, not someone you just find chemically attractive. This distinction has helped me a lot.

    This leads me to my second revelation. Prior to being engaged I only compared my relationship to my own personal life (and in comparison to the relationships I have had before, he is very compatible with me). But now with the engagement I keep comparing us to everyone else. Everyone else is so in love, so excited to be engaged, and not worried at all about marriage. I am very worried about marriage. I have never had a fantasy about it, ever. In fact for a long time I thought I would never want to, but now I know I do want it. I think the reason I never wanted it is my parent’s relationship and also my relationship with my parents, and in particular with my mother (which is very distant(not in a cold- angry way) and kind of business like). Anyway, I am starting to sense that what other people see when they get engaged is excitement over the wedding itself and a false belief that their in-love feelings will just last and last and last.

    And then my third revelation, that people really love wedding planning. I think when people go all bonkers over being engaged, I think they are super excited that they get to be a bride, and buy a dress and all else. I have gotten this sense now that I started looking for a dress. Don’t get me wrong, it is super fun but I don’t really care that much. I don’t need a perfect day. I’ve never had a fantasy about being a bride. I don’t think it means I am more special or lovable because I am a bride. But this feeling makes me feel like I am missing out on something when I look at wedding websites, and that’s when the thoughts start creeping in, am I as ‘in-love’ as all these people? It seems that everyone is just so excited. But I think they are more excited about a day and a myth.

    Anway, I needed to share my thoughts, thanks for reading 🙂 I know the anxiety isn’t gone for good and will come back. But I’ve decided to keep reading this blog and my marriage help books and prepare mentally for the idea of what a marriage is vs prepare for a wedding.

    xoxo
    M

  • Mary C.

    Hi Sheryl (and anyone else who can help),

    I became engaged 6 months ago and was ecstatically happy, but have struggled with intrusive thoughts since then. I have a history of very bad relationship anxiety, and had really thought I had overcome this struggle. Instead of “I wish he were taller,” my thought is “I wish he were thinner/in better shape.” My fiance has a terrible diet and never exercises. When we first started dating a few years ago, he was in really good shape, but completely stopped working out, and has gained weight since then. I struggle to feel attracted to him when his weight goes up (it yo-yos a lot).

    Moreover, I’ve been trying to make healthy changes for myself, but his bad eating/exercise habits always seem to hold me back. I struggled to feel motivated to eat healthy/exercise when he’s on the couch eating pizza, and often give in to the temptation to skip workouts. When this happens, I feel disgust, both for him and myself. I feel anger and resentment toward him for both holding me back, and disgust for his body and lifestyle choices. Sometimes (a couple times a year) he will try to exercise and make better food choices, and I feel so happy and like the relationship is perfect, but he always gives up so quickly, and I feel so much anger toward him.

    When I’ve tried to encourage him to join me in taking better care of ourselves, he responds with anger, says unkind things to me, and refuses to make any changes. I get really depressed because I want so badly for both of us to make positive changes, but I feel like he is a giant obstacle. At the same time I strongly desire him to change his lifestyle, I feel like if I truly love him, I should just accept him for who he is (a kind, wonderful, smart, loving, handsome man who happens to have unhealthy diet/exercise habits). But I feel like I just can’t. I am so worried he will never change his lifestyle (and in turn, neither will I) and I’ll be unhappy because I will have failed to meet my own health goals, I’ll resent him because I’ll believe it’s his fault, and I will not be attracted to him physically because of my anger and his weight.

    What do I do? Should I try talking to him again? Should I learn to just accept him the way he is? I have no idea how to deal with these feelings and welcome the input of anyone who has been through this.

    • Francine

      Mary C – I know it is SO hard, as I have been there myself in regard to improving health and fitness, but I think that the thought of ‘him holding you back’ is a barrier your mind creates to excuse you from doing something challenging and that requires you to take full responsibility for yourself. I know from my own experience, as soon as I decide to go for a run, my mind feeds me lines such as ‘what if you rip your leggings?’ – ‘what if you need the toilet when you’re out in the countryside away from home?’ – ‘what if someone bundles you into a car?’. All of these sound absurd out loud and now that I am wiser and more experienced, I can label them Fear and swipe them away. One of the more difficult barriers my mind puts in front of me is, ‘why get fit…you don’t care what he thinks of you…why look good for him?’. The fact is that embarking on change, emotional, lifestyle, etc, is really scary. It will be hard, physically but also to mentally push yourself in order to achieve your goal. I say this with love and compassion, but your motivation is YOUR responsibility. It does not matter what your partner does or doesn’t do, or eats, in this case. Take charge of you 🙂 he may even be inspired to follow suit.

  • Stef

    Hi Sheryl,

    Just a few days ago I wrote a comment on the last blog about how my partner wasn’t happy in our relationship and thought she wanted to break up and it set off my anxiety again.
    Since then I have found out that she has been flirting with another girl through texts behind my back.
    I am so sad and disgusted by it. I am also extremely angry and can’t seem to talk to her calmly.
    I know this might no be considered full cheating but I still see if as being unfaithful and dishonest as she also didn’t tell me about it and wasn’t going to. I found out for myself.
    I am now faced with having to chose to leave or to stay and forgive..
    Of course my anxiety has flared up and I’m having thoughts like ‘she’s basically cheated on you and your still staying because your afraid of being alone or don’t want to go through a break up’
    The worst part is is that it actually feels true.. I don’t know why I would stay otherwise.. I know I want my future to be with her but I’ve always been clear that if I ever felt cheated on that would be it for any relationship I’m in.. And now it’s happened and I still can’t leave..
    I almost feel like it’s a sign that this has happened to show me that I’m only staying because of these reasons..
    I can’t even bring myself to tell her that I want space.. The truth is I only would tell her that because I want her to fight for me and our relationship but I know she would go and respect my words if I said that..

    I’m not sure where to go from here.. The thoughts are confusing me so much..

    • Northernlass

      Hi Stef,

      I really feel for you. It must be really painful. I just wanted to say that I think couples can get through anything as long as both people are willing to own up to their failings, work on them and make lasting change. Does your partner seem like she is sorry, and like she will tale any steps (no matter how difficult they might be for her) to protect her heart, have a ‘water-tight relationship’ like Sheryl talks about in one of her articles, and help you to rebuild your trust in her? All the best!

      • Stef

        She seems sorry but she admits that she didn’t think much of it because she didn’t think I would find out..
        She doesn’t respond well to my anger or any clinginess. She says she still feels numb and unhappy and she goes into a shell whenever she’s done something wrong..

        I think the only way for her to respond in a way where she might work hard to help me rebuild trust in her is for me to do my own thing and to be stronger and not as angry.. What she did hurts me but I also feel hurt that it doesn’t seem like she has any fight in her to fix it..

        Thanks for your reply 🙂

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl, As i was going through the breakfree course, a thought has been living inside of me for a while now and that is did i learn anxiety from a young age of 3 years old, because i can remember being in italy with my family for a holiday and i remember clearly i felt anxious. I know i inherited anxiety from my parents and grandparents its clearly in my genes. Would you agree to that? I probably was even anxious when i was in my mothers tummy, do u think that was a possibility Sheryl?

    • Francine

      Angela – I, too, can remember very anxious thoughts and feelings from such a young age. I think that our personalities are a nature/nurture balance. My father has been anxious all of his life, and I am sure that I have inherited some of this genetically, but also through my close proximity to him. He has been very loving and protective, which has given me great foresight and sense of consequence…but on the flip side, we both possibly listen to our inner fear-voices too much as a protective mechanism and therefore create our own hurdles in life. I also think that memories from very young childhood can seem very sinister, as they are remembered through the eyes of a child who did not have a full, wise understanding of the situation at the time. Sorry I’m not Sheryl! But I hope that helps.

  • Angela

    Hi Francine, thank you for your reply! I dont mind a reply from someone on this blog other than Sheryl,
    as i feel people relate to what i have to share such as yourself?. My dad was also protective and loving at times, he had extreme anxiety to the point where he took his frustration on my brothers and I, by physically abusing us. He came to Australia from sicily at a young age of 18 and he didnt like Australia even after marrying my mother. We saw that he wasnt happy and we felt it was our fault, it was a tense childhood not a happy, and safe environment. I dont wanna make out that im the victim but i still feel troubled about it. My dad passed away when i was 20. I thought i would feel relief and freedom, i did feel a sense of relief and freedom but something inside didnt feel right, i feel my innosence was taken away. I hope im not depressing you but thats my experience. x