Mentors and Guides

IMG_4378We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone. In other times and other places, a culture’s members are guided through life’s transitions and trials by the elders who have already traveled that terrain. Girls are ushered through the tangle of adolescence in the fold of older aunts and mothers; boys step into their manhood in the company of other men. New mothers walk next door and hand over a crying baby to a trusted aunt while the mother cries from overwhelm and exhaustion in the arms of a sister. Men can pass a day outdoors with other men, finding comfort and solace in the silence.

These days, separated and isolated as we are, we must find mentors and guides in other ways. We rely heavily on friendship. We call family members. We read books and receive the wisdom of teachers we’ll never meet. We seek the guidance of a therapist or religious clergy. We seek when life becomes unmanageable and we call when we’re on our knees, suffering through a dark night of the soul. Far from being a sign of weakness (as many people in our culture believe), asking for help is a sign of strength.  The curves and cliffs are too treacherous at times, the nature of our human psyche too complicated and paradoxical to expect ourselves to know how to “do life” without help. We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone.

When I look across the landscape of my life, I bow in awe and gratitude to the guides and mentors who have inspired, influenced, and shaped me: my husband, my girlfriends, my books, my teachers, my therapists, my rabbi. These people stand as totems around the perimeter of my psyche, protecting when the barriers need fortification. They serve as voices of hope when the world has looked dark and despair seeped into the cracks. When I’ve struggled through particularly dark times, I’ve called them in through my imagination, seeing them sitting around the edges of a tent as they sing to me until I can once again rest on shores of light. We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone.

As I’ve received, so I give. I give to friends and husband, sons and nieces. I stand as their bastion of hope and light when the dark curtain falls. And I give to clients, to readers, to course members. I consider it a great privilege to guide people into the deeper layers of their learning and healing. Through my 30-day courses, I guide both as teacher and as student, sharing in the group phone calls more personal stories from my own life that illuminate where I’m stuck and where I find openings. I may be a few steps ahead in terms of my ability to keep my heart open and not get hooked by relationship anxiety (it’s been many years since I’ve fallen into a projection and stayed there for more than a few moments), but regardless of where I am in my own journey the wisdom of my course members never ceases to amaze me; I learn so much from them every time I run a live course. I get dirty as much as I offer signposts along the path.

Along these lines, I would like to share one of my favorite thank-you emails from a recent course member (shared with permission):

“I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”  – Walt Whitman

I feel like I’ve really “been around the block” in my search for inner harmony. Well, it’s only been about six years, but I sure did a lot of searching in that amount of time! For me, in many courses, books and programs there is a subtle exaltation of the work above the people that are studying it. At no point did I feel that way during this course, however. Sheryl, I feel like you have not forgotten what it feels like, on a very detailed level, to be someone who has not found the work yet. Even though I know they are well-meaning, for me, many teachers give me a feeling of “I’ve cleaned up and I will tell you how to get clean, but I will not get any dirt on me with you.” But with you as my teacher, I felt like I was with a gardener who does not think dirt is a bad thing, who gets her own hands in the soil and cultivates every day. I never got a sense of an exultation of the work or the product or idea above the people.

My favorite parts of the course were:

The weekly support calls: it was so soothing and powerful to me to hear your voice and to hear you interacting with people over the phone. I found myself really buoyed on the days after those calls.

The honesty: This course was not a “make yourself a better human” course. To me, it was more like a “welcome to the beauty (and drama) of humanity, let’s look at all of it and help each other come to the fruits, without ignoring or downplaying any of the difficulties we can and will face”. I loved that you talked about resistance right up front and let us know to expect that and how to work through it. I love that you helped normalize thoughts and concepts that I thought I was alone in dealing with.

I’m so thankful that there’s somebody out there who gets it and who has the clarity and gentleness to help others. I think some people may get it, but their approaches (for me) were too black and white. Either you get it and you’re a winner or you don’t get it and you’re lost and can’t use their program. But with you, those grey feelings and concerns are normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

I’m humbled when I receive emails like this, and my heart opens wide. It connects me to the deep privilege of being able to share what has helped me and thousands of others live life with more of an open heart, connecting more regularly to the place of self-trust. The giving and receiving and giving spiral around and through each other into one interconnected spirographic design of love.

Last year, when I was immersed in creating my Break Free course, I considered packaging up my 30-day courses and turning them into self-guided programs that would run alone without my guidance. At that time, I felt wrung dry, like I had nothing left to give on an ongoing basis to a group of learners. But once the program was released, I experienced a renewal of energy, I remembered how much I love connecting with my members, and the 30-day programs that I ran at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 received the fullness of my enthusiasm.

I would love for you to receive this enthusiasm. I would love to guide you on the next step of your journey and get to know you through my live programs. If you’ve taken my other courses and you’re feeling stuck in your process, if you’ve taken Open Your Heart already and would like to review the content in the context of a supportive group, if you’ve been following my blog for a while and you’re ready to take the next step in your journey, please join me for the next round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner.  This course is for you if:

  • You want to learn how to feel more love and attraction for your partner.
  • You want to learn the skills of love that will allow you to feel more in love.
  • You’ve struggled with being an infatuation junkie, chasing after the feeling of longing that we equate with true love, and want to learn how to break free from this insidious addiction that prevents you from fully embracing your loving partner.
  • You want to create more healthy sexual desire, based on presence and kindness instead of absence and mystery.
  • You struggle with any realm of attraction, including social, intellectual, and physical attraction.
  • You never had a honeymoon phase with your partner, never felt “in love”, and would like to move beyond the belief that this means there’s something wrong with your relationship.

As Rumi wrote in the 13th century:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

The program starts on March 12th, 2016 and I will only run it once more this year. I’ll meet you there.

35 comments to Mentors and Guides

  • C

    Dear Sheryl,

    Your post hit the nail on the head today. Ive taken your TYS and OYH courses before and Ive loved both of them, but lately Ive been struggling with feeling very lonely on this path of healing. People around me are not exactly on the same path as I have been, and therefore they dont understand. I dont blame them for being judging and not very understanding, as I know that all of us have our own evolution to deal with andthey are doing the best they can/know, but I do feel very alone/lonely sometimes. I know I have to be the adult to take care of my own inner child now, but its so hard to know what to do when there is no healthy support around me for the most part. Ive connected with one person (and she is great because she is the only one that gets me, as we both have a very similar story) but she is far away and I cant expect her to always be there becasue I feel that would be unfair to put all that weight on her shoulders too. What are your thoughts on dealing with things like anxiety and learning how to heal when we dont really have a healthy support system?

    As always, your blogs are very soothing. Thank you.

    • It can be a lonely path, especially when you don’t have support around. It takes work to find like-minded people, but it’s well-worth the effort. I suggest things like joining a therapy group or dream group, checking out local religious communities (and if you’re not religious you can check out places like the Unitarian Church, which is transdenominational), reaching out to a few people on the forum with whom you found a connection, taking a class on a subject that might draw growth-oriented people (like creative writing, poetry, 5-rhythms dance), etc.

  • Nan12b

    Sheryl,

    I’m currently taking your break free and working through it. Is it unwise to sign up for open your heart when I’m not entirely better yet?

    I’ve worked through the course about 2 or 3 times, we’ve skyped and I’m just starting therapy. Would taking this confuse me or set me off track of breaking free?

    I signed up in mid December for break free.. What do you advise?

    • It would be great for you to join. This course works concurrently with the Break Free course – meaning taking this one will help the information in Break Free to sink in more thoroughly – especially since you’ve gone through Break Free several times already. I hope you’ll join!

  • jaybee

    I took the plunge and signed up today, after nearly a year of reading the blog. Had a moment of surrender this morning and am looking forward to the work. Thank you

  • H

    Hi Sheryl,

    Will you ever write an article on the ebbs and flows of a relationship? Lately I’ve been feeling kinda numb. I went through a big stage of being happy and excited talking about getting married to my partner, buying our own house and having babies. But we know it’s not going to happy anytime soon due to money. So my excitement has deflated a lot because I know this won’t happen for a while. I don’t deal with disappointment very well at all. And now my anxious brain likes to latch onto it to scare me because I haven’t been feeling as excited and happy to talk about this. My anxiety catches me and says that it means I don’t love him because I’m not getting any thrill speaking about it to him anymore, something tells me this is just an ebb in our relationship and the disappointment of knowing that it’s not going to happen for a while. I know I love him and enjoy being with him, we live together and hardly ever argue. Usually everhing is really good, so as you can imagine my mind is going crazy. Do you have an article on the ebbs and flows of a relationship? Or will you write one? It’s so easy to think your relationship is rubbish once you get into an ebb part but I just need something to soothe my soul. I’m usually okay if I speak to my partner because he has the same views on relationships, he believes love is more than an feeling and an action, he believes friendship is the main part of a relationship, he believes you create love so when I speak to him I feel a lot better because I know he will soothe my soul. But I just need an extra bit to help me so I can bookmark it on my phone.

    Please let me know if there already is an article on ebbs and flows of a relationship and if not I look forward to the time you hopefully write one.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Much of what you’re describing is really about using the relationship as a way to fill your well instead of learning to fill your own well. If you’re living with a full well, the natural ebbs in a relationship wouldn’t affect you as you would be finding excitement and creative fulfillment in your own life. Does that make sense?

      • H

        Hey Sheryl, thanks for replying!

        I understand what you mean but I don’t think I have ever looked at it that way because I don’t deliberately do that and I never thought I did. I guess I love him so much that anything that could get in the way of stop that it really scares me. I understand what you mean though. The more things I have going on with myself and the more I learn to fill my own well up I won’t notice the ebbs as much because I will be happy in other areas of my life so it won’t be such a big deal to me. This makes ALOT of sense. I’m just scared of the relationship going to pot. Also, as we’ve lived together for longer I have noticed that there are things I’m realising about him that I don’t like, and I know you don’t have to like everhing about your partner but it has really upset me. I guess it’s the change in the relationship because I always thought he was perfect, there was never anything I didn’t like much. And now there is but I guess that’s where learning to love him more comes into play.

        Thanks for all you do, you really are a star!

  • just me

    Hi Sheryl, I have made a huge desicion, that I am moving away from our home. My constant dreams about getting back to my ex and divorcing have convinced me that I do not want to be in this relationship deep down and something important is missing. My dreams about divorcing are always about me leaving my husband and thinking that I want to be just a friend with him. I am so so sad.. It is very hard for me to do this to my son and husband. I know that I have to take responsibility of my own happiness, but I just feel that we do not have that romantic love between us, because I think that someone else would be better to my husband and that thought do not make me jealous at all, just sad.

    • just me

      I just wish that I could have found my truth earlier, why did I let things go this far? I feel so much guilty and shame about everything.

      • Your anxiety is going to follow you, just me. I encourage you to reach out for support from a skilled therapist before your break up your family unnecessarily.

        • just me

          I know that Sheryl.. but I want to feel love, I am just so tired with this ambivalence and my inability to be intimate with my husband. I do not like the person who I have become. I am going to meet new therapist, my ex-therapist told me that if I am so numb towards my husband that maybe it is time to move on.. I would like to believe that my feeling towards my husband would grow, but I feel like my hearth is closed..

          • Lifelines

            Just me,

            I am no expert, but I have been taking the Break Free course and have also been doing readings online, what you are going through is tough, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for you.. you just need to have the courage to get there… but, like I said.. it will be tough!

            I have read so much about the “hollywood love” and we really have this false belief about what love is/should be/feel like.. well, we are all wrong, so please know that you can stay, just seek a new therapist – one that will not tell you to run.. and if you want, take the break free course — as Sheryly said above, leaving won’t stop the anxiety.. it is only going to follow you… there is inner work to be done!

  • Tündi

    Sheryl, you did it again! This gave me goosebumps all over.
    You write with such purity that your words go straight from heart to heart, that the ego doesn’t have time to intercept and twist them, before the truth settles inside.
    I haven’t been coming to the blog often lately because, after the major life transitions I went through last June at the same time as doing OYH, I found that comforting space of peace inside me and I’m almost completely free of projections and anxiety. This is just to say, I give gratitude for you and your work on a daily basis.
    Sending you love,

    Tündi

    • It’s so nice to hear from you and I’m so glad you’re well, Tundi! I had no doubt, after getting to know you in the program, that you were well on your way to breaking free from anxiety and projections ;).

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl, Wow some people such as yourself have the gift to magnificently communicate their words with such ease. If your willing to listen, read then your willing to learn its as simple as that. Its not easy to listen when your in constant, fear and anxiety. In the past I have been in situations where I am talking to someone over the phone or in person and I cannot hear one word their saying because of the overwhelming fear that I experienced. It was a bad feeling and also a bit embarrasing. Thats why I find it easier to read that to listen when anxiety says hello out loudly.

  • Rhea

    Hi Sheryl!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I am ready to sign up for a course. Not sure if I should take break free from relationship anxiety or open your heart? I’m 4 months into my relationship and I’ve pretty much had anxiety from day one.

    Thank you so much!

  • Silver

    Hello everyone!

    Do relationship anxiety causes too much and frequent anger to our partners? I’m always been like this whenever something bad happens. It’s like I’m a child too selfish. Also I’m waking up not feeling in love and having pains in my stomach and in my chest that it feels wrong to be with my partner from time to time, lacking feelings that there is no spark. Looking at other girls. Is love suppose to feel like this? That I unintentionally disrespect my partner and wanting her because she loves me and alot of people want her? Is she a trophy to me? Or an ego booster?

    I read in an article that if we question ourselves everyday and we tend to hate and get bored with our partners is resulting that we don’t love them for sure. Because if we love someone it supposed to be a natural ups and downs not down all the time. Having uncertainty or ambivalence is death in a relationship.

  • Angela

    Hi Silver, Firstly, I would like to say that what your feeling is normal, there is nothing wrong with you. This anxiety your feeling makes you think distortly. I also have felt the pain in my stomach and I also worried about my partner now husband thinking why is he so supportive. He was more supportive when I told him how I am feeling. I am a highly sensitive person and I suffer anxiety. One of my suggestions is tell your partner how you are genuinely feeling. Also you dont feel hate, its anxiety, ego playing games with you. I genuinely believe that you truly love your partner. And you are so affraid of losing. Dont worry she wont leave you, if you tell her that your struggling with anxiety, im sure she will understand. Im sure she loves you for who you are. The three tools that have helped me was breathing in from your neck and exhale daily, journal if thats ur thing. Dont listen to anyone that tells you doubt means dont. Sheryl is an expert only take her advice.

    • Silver

      I don’t know why people keep telling me that I love my partner genuinely when she tells me I don’t care about her at all, I son’t even get jealous when she talks to other guys or delay my replies to her. I sm a red flag got of commitment issues. My partner is very insecure and I caused alot of unhealed trust. I wish I know how to deal better. Im not good when it comes to relationship this is my first serious one and it strucked me with anxiety too hard

      • MohTA

        Hi Silver,

        I am sorry to hear you are suffering this way. I am a guy, has been EXACTLY in your place (and still go and visit this place but somehow less frequently), so I totally understand you and my heart goes to you.

        First, did you take the Break Free course? If not, you can say it is a MUST for you to take it!

        To assure you, what you feel is not more than a “classical & common type of relationship anxiety”. Be sure that all what you are suffering from is anxiety and NOTHING to do with your partner.. It is about you, within you and for you to overcome and heal from, whether you are with the current partner or another one.

        You are asking “is love supposed to be like this?” and questioning if you really love her or not with all these continuous feelings? The answer is YES! why and how? Because this partner, this “for the first time” serious partner, is the first one to you who has been able to touch your soul, touch your whole Self, trigger your whole senses and inner beliefs and so revealed what is inside you as you are about to go into a serious long-term commitment. This revealing (for highly sensitive people like most ones on this website and so probably you) causes anxiety to come to surface. And such anxiety inevitably comes with painful sensations and thoughts, classically and typically like what you have described above..

        So they are only anxiety-provoked FAKE outcomes and has nothing to do with the reality and with your partner.

        How to believe this and live it and so move over anxiety? It is a whole work by itself that needs time and patience,exercises and learning.. It is what you will have in the Break Free course.

        So my advice is to hold on, have faith, and be sure that what you feel is not real and take the course (and by the way STOP googling and reading here and there articles.. many are misleading)

        Wish you the best

        • Silver

          Awwww thank you! I don’t know what to say I’ve been sticking around with her for too long every big fight that we have I keep telling myself to stop the relationship and leave however theres a little voice that will tell me that I will regret it for the rest of my life, she’s true to me. And I believe that I’m too young to have a deep understanding of long term commitment and what healthy boundaries we do have. My partner tells me that I don’t give her assurance to help her remove her fears from me. It might be something of my behavior brought to the table by my anxiety

          • Silver

            And it really really feels forced. Its like were on a one sided relationship in which im the passenger and shes the boat. I’m trying my best to fight The battle however still stupidly selfish

  • Kyle

    Hi Sheryl,

    I love all the support your website has to offer, and this week’s blog post was especially good! I have recently started the “Break Free From Relationship Anxiety E-Course”, and let me just say, I have been REALLY blessed by it! I feel like I am on much more stable ground, and I am learning about myself and the world around me (which I know is the true goal!). However, last night as I was going through the course, something spiked my anxiety A LOT, and it has been eating at me for most of today as well (it is something you also talk about in the FAQ). It is regarding “red flags”. There was a time about a year ago that my fiance was away on a trip, and she mentioned that she was going to a bar alone. I asked her not to go because I thought she might get hit-on. Long story short, she did go, she did get hit-on, and she felt like trash, and called me immediately to tell me the whole story and apologize. She has also had a male friend since childhood who she still sees from time to time. She told me the other day she was going for a ride on a scooter with him (I know, sounds stupid, but I promise this has a point!!!), and I became extremely jealous and upset at her. We argued for a while, and I tried to restrict what she could and couldn’t do with him, but realized that wasn’t going to work, or be helpful. Looking at it from her perspective, I can understand where she’s coming from because they’ve been great friends since they were 5 or 6, and she just wanted to spend time with a friend. We talked about it more, and she said she could understand where I was coming from, and that she would try to be more aware of situations where it would not be okay to hang out with him one-on-one. You mentioned unhealed trust and betrayal issues. There are some times where I feel I can’t always trust her to do what I want (but even in that statement, I think I might be a bit too controlling :P) or trust her to do what wouldn’t hurt me. However, I will say she would NEVERR EVER cheat or do ANYTHING to put our relationship in jeopardy; she loves our relationship WAY too much, and I trust her FULLY in this regard. My question is this: when you mention unhealed trust and betrayal issues, what exactly are you referring to? I think I’ve dissected this point (and some of the other red flags too) so much that I can’t make sense of it at this point. I think maybe my Highly Sensitive Mind is just working overdrive at ruminating on the red flags (all of them). Any help is GREATLY appreciated!!!

    • What you’re describing is in no way a red flag but normal relationship issues that two of you will work out over time (and it sounds like already working out_. Trusting someone does NOT mean controlling someone (as you already realized even as you wrote it) but that you trust that you can communicate and work through the bumps and challenges that arise in relationships.

  • Rachael

    I have been brought to the lowest point in my relationship, the same point I have reached before with previous partners and each time before…the relationships did not last. Last night, my partner told me he loved me – but he then took it back, because he said he wasn’t sure how true it was and he wanted (for both our sakes, and the happiness of our relationship) to make sure that it was true.

    I then flew into an anxious rage, I saw red and we fought. I then panicked, ‘what if I am not over my ex boyfriend?’, ‘what if I do not love myself first?’, I fell into a calmness once I left my partner and decided we should break up. I don’t know whether this calmness means it is the right thing to do? I’m at a horrible breaking point. I’m starting to become depressed, and often suicidal. I have spoke to counsellors before, however, they’ve laughed at me and told me to leave the partner etc.

    • Rachael: If you’re feeling suicidal I urge you to seek further support and/or call your local crisis center. If you saw a counselor who laughed at you, you’re in the WRONG place. Please find compassionate support for yourself asap.

  • Amanda

    I found the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, got curious and bought it. It took me a day to read it and I loved everything about it. It made me feel so much better. I suffer from relationship anxiety and have been seen a therapists but I have to say that this book is pure gold. It’s about how men and women are different and how to deal with it. At some point I t talks about the wounded self and how it can alter the way we feel in a relationship. You guys should give it a go. I can’t say my anxiety is all gone but I do feel better after reading it, I feel hopeful.
    Also, Sheryl, your blog is the reason why I am still with my boyfriend. Thank you for that

  • Clara

    Dear Sheryl,

    I was so moved by the thank you letter you shared (thank you to the writer!!). It so beautifully expressed what I think I have valued most in my work with you: your full humanity, your acceptance of brokenness, confusion, and regret, and your ability to go gently with us into dark places… and then lead us back to the light. Your capacity to hold both grim reality with inspiring hope, and love them both equally is truly remarkable. And I feel you have taught me to do the same, to some degree. To see the divine in the ordinary, the romance in the familiar, the blessings in the challenges. This shift of perspective had been a life changing thing for me and for my marriage. An inward journey of true alchemy.

    Love, Clara