Something is Wrong

Fear-mind has a special genius for trying to prove that it’s right. It’s like we all have this aspect of our personality – some call it ego, other call it lower self – that has secretly attended law school and graduated at the top of its class. This character, terrified of change, will gather such convincing evidence to support its case that it would win in any court of law, or at the very least in the court of law that takes place inside your mind. It seeks and researches and googles in order to prove its conviction that whatever it is you’re struggling with is because you’re in the wrong relationship or you actually will harm a child or you really do have a life-threatening illness. In other words, Fear is hell-bent on proving that there is something really wrong with you, your relationship, or your health.

From what I understand, there are many reasons why we come equipped with this aspect of our personality that makes it quite difficult to accept life on life’s terms and step into the river’s flow more easily. From a physical safety perspective, there is certainly an aspect of fear that is healthy: it’s the part of us that is cautious while driving and thinks twice before stepping onto frozen ice. From a psychological perspective, we can understand that when we’ve been hurt early in life we erect barriers and walls around our hearts that say, “Woah, hold on. Are you sure it’s safe to risk your heart again?” As one of fear’s job is to circumvent the possibility of risk – of getting hurt either physically or emotionally – it makes sense that it would clamor for our attention when risk skirts our shores. The problem is that, especially if you’re highly sensitive, this natural and healthy tendency ramps up into overdrive in the face of any risk, making us more risk averse than the average person. And without being willing to take risks, we will never step outside our comfort zone and live life to its fullest. We won’t try new things, we won’t change our routines and, mostly, we won’t love fully. Life becomes very narrow when we choose to listen to Fear’s endless warnings and live inside our safe bubble.

One of Fear’s all-time favorite tactics is to use your anxiety as evidence of its point that something is wrong. It’s circular thinking, and it goes like this (using the example of relationship anxiety): “The depth of my anxiety is evidence that I’m in the wrong relationship.” I recently worked with a coaching client who said to me, “I wouldn’t be so anxious if the relationship wasn’t wrong for me. I’ve been struggling for months and it seems obvious that the problem is that I’m in the wrong relationship. My anxiety keeps telling me that something is wrong, so it must be true.”

This, of course, is the cardinal error when working with anxiety: to take it at face value. If we interpret the anxiety as evidence that something is wrong and bite the top-layer and most obvious hook that the thing that’s wrong is “the relationship”, we’re sunk down the rabbit hole. If, instead, we understand that the depth of the anxiety is commensurate with the depth of your own need to turn inward and attend to your pain, everything changes.

Fear-mind wants to say that the depth of the anxiety is evidence that something is wrong.

Wise mind understands that the depth of the anxiety is commensurate with the need to turn inward and commit to your inner work, not just in theory but in practice.

This  applies to all kinds of anxiety. When health anxiety takes over, for example, Fear will gather evidence based on symptoms to prove that there’s really something physically wrong. Even if you’ve just received a clean bill of health from the doctor, Fear will still find a way to argue the case for “something is really wrong” or “I don’t feel right.” I’m very attuned to when Fear drops this line, both with my clients and in my own psyche, for there’s almost invariably a metaphor wrapped in the conviction. When I inquire further, I quickly learn that the “something is wrong” has to do with the sense of discomfort and groundlessness that arises when we’re struggling, either in the midst of a significant life transition or deep in the darkness when our soul is inviting (sometimes dragging) us toward change. When everything inside is unraveling, when life as we’ve known it dissolves, when our physical body manifests outwardly the shift, crumbling, and alterations that are occurring internally, it can certainly feel like “something isn’t right.”

Understanding Fear’s tactics is one of the first steps we must take in order to break free from its grip. When we can say, “That’s my fear-mind,” we’ve already distanced ourselves from this part of psyche as opposed to fusing and identifying with it. The naming diffuses the power. Once we’ve named it, we can then ask, “What is it that’s truly needing my attention? What aspect of Self is holding out its hand and asking me to grab hold?”

One of the fastest ways to shift out of the mindset of “something is wrong” is to connect to one of your practices that connect you to the fundamental “okay-ness” that rests at the bottom of your well of Self. We all have this place, and everyone has a different way of reconnecting to it. For many people, it’s the place that rises to the surface in nature, which is a direct mirroring reminder of our true nature. For others, putting on music and dancing when nobody is watching is the medicine that shakes the fear-mind out of the tangled places and sends you directly into your essential nature. These on-the-spot remedies can help enormously when it comes to doing the deeper work. They cleanse the palate and dust out at least the top layer cobwebs of habitual fear-mind so that we can create enough internal space to connect below mind where our guidance lives.

When we can call Fear onto the mat then decode the metaphor, this is the moment when we can dive into the soul-work that anxiety invites. This is when our journaling takes a different turn, and instead of perseverating on the top-layer presentation (I’m with the wrong partner; something is truly wrong with my health), we can ask, “How am I growing? What is changing inside of me? What is needing my attention? What grief, fear, vulnerability is asking to be held?” With fear out of the driver’s seat, Curiosity steps into the pole position, Wisdom gathers up her robes, the light of Clarity shines into the dark forest, and together they guide our inner explorations into our most tender regions, watching with utmost love as we unfold into our next layer of growth.

53 comments to Something is Wrong

  • Lauren

    Thank you for this, Sheryl! It’s exactly what I needed to read after the last few days. ❤️

  • Lesa

    I feel I am the exception. I just found out I am pregnant and have had a feeling of “this isn’t right” from the moment I found out. But I really AM too young objectively. I’m only 26 and have been with my fiancé only 2 years. I think if I was 30 I’d feel okay about it. Sometimes “this isn’t right” is just a fact, no? It feels the massive fear around this means that of course the timing isn’t ideal, my life won’t go as I wanted it to, and I wouldn’t feel fear if I was older and married. That just seems like a fact to me. I feel in utter despair.

    • Those are textbook thoughts when you’re struggling with pregnancy anxiety, Lesa. Please hang on. I’ll be writing more about this in next week’s post.

      • Lesa

        Okay great!!

        It’s also really hard because mixed with the fear and “this isn’t right” is a lot of regret. I feel so stupid that I wasn’t more careful.

        But regret has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember.

    • Kerri

      This resonates so deeply and is exactly what I have been feeling…very similar to what H wrote I have been with someone for 4 years and he wants to marry me and have a family and I’m terrified and always feel something is off or wrong or I feel something isn’t right and these all seem to be at its worst if we are fighting , if I am insecure or not feeling good enough or I sometimes just feel uncertain if we are too different and it won’t last “forever” and I’m terrified of divorce and having kids through that especially because he wants a prenup that determines spousal support so I want every guarantee it will work and anytime the anxiety starts I want to run and I always have a foot out the door.

      What I relate to here is I have come to understand I have inner child issues and co dependency with my parents and I am really afraid to “transition” into adulthood even though I am 37 and living with my boyfriend …I sometimes feel I want life to stop moving so fast, I’m so scared of my parents dying and living in this world without them and I’m so scared of having a family and being responsible becaue i want to remain a “child” in some ways and feel the safety of not “growing up” so the transition of being an adult or marriage or kids definitely feels “off” and maybe my feelings of something being off and my relationship anxiety sounds like it can also be me struggling with the transition as you write

      My question Sheryl is how do I know if it’s that or my gut telling me he isn’t right? I just read a whole blog devoted to listening to your gut in relationships and people who broke up with people they felt were not right or something was off and they married their current partner who felt “right”….when I read all the posts it sent my head spinning that I am ignoring my gut or “off” or “wrong” feelings ?!?

      Thank you ❤️

      • Amy

        I struggled on a daily basis for about 3 years with these feelings with my now husband and thankfully chose to marry him anyway. For me the biggest reason why I did was because in between the times of anxiety I would have moments of complete clarity with such a feeling of comfort, love and safety with him. The anxiety would inevitably come back, but so would the loving moments. Eventually this pattern went on long enough that I began to recognize it, and in the moments of anxiety I would actively say to myself, “this anxiety has happened before and it will end. the good moments will come back.” Saying that had such a calming effect on me and over time the anxiety came less and less frequently to the point that it stopped entirely. Now when I have moments of annoyance at him, I don’t immediately go down a rabbit hole of anxiety, I just think, “hey, I’m annoyed at my husband. This happens to everyone.” It was such a terribly gut wrenching time in my life, and I don’t wish those feelings on anyone. I hope you find peace with your feelings.

    • Nikki

      Hey Lesa,

      I don’t really have much to say except, I think you might be afraid even if you were my age (33). At least I know I would feel it, even if the timing were “right”, by others standards. What a scary experience full of unknowns! Maybe acknowledging that it’s not so much timing that’s contributing here, can help?

  • H

    Ive been struggling with Relationship Anxiety for about 4 years now and the entire time the ONLY ‘evidence’ that my relationship is wrong for me has been “something feels wrong”. Make no mistake, just because it is my only hook, doesnt mean it has been easy. Its been nothing short of hell, feeling like something is ‘just wrong’ and we need to break up for some reason that ill never be able to properly identify.
    But Sheryl, i do wonder, when we need to listen to that feeling? As i say, its been 4 long years of this and i cant seem to shake it. If there are no red flags, and your partner is good and loving, is it still fear?

    • Knowing a bit of your story, H, I can say that the anxiety is rooted in you, not in your relationship and, thus, will follow you wherever you go.

    • Leslie

      H,

      I took Sheryl’s course years and years ago, and still read her weekly blog posts that’s are sent to me because I love the reminders. As someone who struggled for four years with my current spouse when we were dating, I had many of your same thoughts. Four years felt like too long of a time to be feeling that way. But I stuck with it, did the work, and realized just what Sheryl said: the anxiety was rooted in me. Now I can poke fun of myself and my husband about how I would have responded in certain situations when we were dating! Hang in there. There is clarity and a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s amazing!

  • Nancy

    Thank you for writing this! This could not be written at a better time for me. My husband and I are adopting a newborn who will be born this coming Thursday, and since we have been working towards this adoption, my anxiety has been in overdrive – I am the queen of “What Ifs”! Anxiety is my MO when it comes to change – when my husband proposed marriage, I could not give him an answer right away and I stuck the ring in the safe deposit box! Your Conscious Bride book helped me enormously, and now we have been happily married almost 4 years. Back to the adoption – I have always wanted to be a mother, we want a family, the time is right, we have a great partnership my hubbie and I – but I’m just scared. That’s all it is! It is fear. And what has actually helped is I have been letting myself feel the grief of our old life ending, the sadness I sometimes feel even though this is a happy event, and the fear I feel about the unknown. I have a very hard time with uncertainty. It is very hard to accept in our culture that what is a good change should only bring feelings and actions of pure joy. I am taking the Birthing a New Mother course – some of it applies even though I am not pregnant, and I have found some of the readings and videos helpful. Thank you!

    • It sounds like you’re applying everything you learned through wedding transition beautifully: allowing yourself to grieve the old lifestyle and identity, making room for the fear, finding self-compassion. I’m so glad the course has been helpful even though you’re not pregnant, and I’m sending you love as you welcome this new being into your life!

  • Mary (mhk415)

    THANK YOU for this post, Sheryl. Been feeling all kinds of feelings as Thanksgiving break comes to an end, I prepare to go back to work after a few days off, I have to drive my friend who was visiting to the airport…Really appreciate this reminder to embrace those feelings and invite them in and wrap myself in compassion rather than feeling “blah” and beating myself up for it. The holidays are always a challenging time for me for a number of reasons, but they are also full of joy (kind of a good metaphor for life…the darkness and the light coexisting). I have to hold space for both of those feelings. Thank you thank you as always <3

  • Christina

    Thank you Sheryl! This came at the perfect time for me and truly resonates.

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    I am at a place now where I feel at peace and Im not struggling with why am I still stuck. I feel and see clarity. I do get the im not good enough thoughts pop up. You will be happy to hear. Sheryl, You will be happy to hear, I dance and feel the love inside me and thats exactly how I connect with my wise self through dancing, singing, journaling, breathing, walking. Its so loving and nurturing for your mind and inner soul. Thanks Sheryl 🤗😘😇

  • Briana

    This is so beautiful! I signed up for the RA course back in April, and it took until about a month ago to REALLY understand what “calling out the fear” meant. It is a GAME CHANGER. I am by no means “perfect”, I still have some pretty low points, but when I really started to understand what it meant to “unhook” from a thought and put some distance between the thought- that’s really when things started to change for me. Anyone who is wondering is they should sign up, I just want to encourage you to DO IT. It takes a little bit to really grasp and apply everything Sheryl teaches (I don’t mean that in a negative way, it takes time to recognize and create new reactions to intrusive thoughts) , but she is spot on! This is work, you have to be intentional with what’s going on inside of you, but it’s really worth it! There is hope! 🙂

    • Fantastic to hear, Briana, and thank you for sharing your experience here. Yes, it does take time to grasp and apply the principles that I teach as we’re literally creating new neural pathways in the brain, but once it’s in everything starts to shift, as you’re noticing. Keep going!

  • Alyssa

    Sheryl,

    Thanks for this post, I’ve been actively reminding myself of these things daily and intend to finally take the leap and purchase the break free course today. “If not now, when?” Right? 🙂

    I’ve been cautiously watching myself the past couple days, because I’m learning how I process and work through grief for the first time, which is a gift but also very sad. On Thanksgiving morning, I was preparing various casseroles for our large meal when I got the call from my sister who told me that our grandmother had passed away a couple hours prior. I have a fairly large family, and this is the first death I’ve experienced of someone close to me. I had been working through anticipatory grief for a couple years as she declined, and in fact I was actually expecting the call – I saw her the previous afternoon in her semi comatose state and told her I loved her and she could go whenever she wanted – but these new feelings I’m noticing since she passed are unfamiliar and quick to jump from story to story. I’ve been trying to be kind to myself and just let myself process how I process (because I don’t know how I process!), but i don’t want to be weepy on and off every day for the next month.

    Sheryl do you have any posts steered in the grief and death direction specifically? I’ve looked through your grief/death tag but I can’t find one specifically about the anxiety/hurt that surfaces when someone close to you actually passes away.

    My Nana was the only source of a loving relationship growing up; she and my Papa celebrated their 73rd anniversary just last week. I like to think that my Nana chose Thanksgiving morning, because she knew that none of us would be alone that day. 🙂

    http://www.burkefuneralhome.com/m/?p=memorial&id=2039438

    • Onedayatatime

      Hi Alyssa, thanks for sharing the memorial on your grandma. Im sprry to hear of your loos and send you my thoughts. 73 years of marriage is such a gift and perhaps there is some comfort in the day of her passing given you were with family. My grandma passed away November 18th and I relate to the anticipatory grief you mentioned. I also lost a grandma a couple years ago and I’ve gone back to Sheryls writing each time. I’m not sure if you read all the articles all the way back years ago but I did find that her messages in them were still a helpful guide for what you are asking about, even if not directly. There’s one about her grandma and roses in fact. I’ve taken away to let yourself feel, be present and care for yourself and the feelings and practice some form of grounding and or gratification to help with anxiety. Lots of love xo

    • Alyssa,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, and yet it sounds like there was some blessing in that you were able to say goodbye and give her your blessing that it’s okay to go. As far as grieving, I’m curious about your statement that you don’t want to be weepy on and off every day for the day month. The medicine is to do just that: to let yourself cry whenever you need to cry without judgement or a timeline. Grief has its own timetable; it comes in waves and then it passes. Here’s the article that Onedayatime referred to above:

      http://conscious-transitions.com/grandmothers-roses/

      And these articles might help as well:

      http://conscious-transitions.com/the-grief-place/
      http://conscious-transitions.com/the-storm-of-grief/

      If you google “conscious-transitions + grief” you’ll see all of my articles on grief. Not all of them directly relate to losing a loved one but I’m sure you’ll find some guidance through them nevertheless.

      • Alyssa

        Thank you so much Sheryl! I read the Grandmothers Roses article when Onedayatatime responded to me, and it did help to bring some clarity to the situation and I was able to smile at my Nana’s memory.

        My statement about being weepy on and off for the next month was speaking more to the appropriate times to do so. At work, for example, I don’t want to be tearing up in the middle of a meeting. I want to get better at shifting my focus at times when I need to (i.e. work) while also letting myself feel my feelings when I feel them. Does that make sense?

        Thanks for the link to your articles on grief, I will look them up. I can feel my anxiety/intrusive thoughts towards my boyfriend creeping back as I try and weed through this field of loss, but I know it’s not about him.

  • ImperfectGoddess

    Sheryl–you always seem to hit the nail right on the head of what I’m feeling.
    I just went through a terrible bout of irregular heartbeats for a week, which caused me to panic and threw me into a whirlwhind of anxiety. I truly believe they wer stress-induced, made worse by my anxiety. They went away, after going to yoga and calming myself down, but now the ‘fear-mind’ is making me scared again, with the ‘what-if’ they come back? What if they never go away? I have really bad health anxiety, and it causes me so much fear and panic when I think that I’ll have to live with this discomfort forever. Even though, I know rationally that I am making it 90% worse with my worry and anxiety. I feel everything in my body, I always have. Working on mind over matter. It’s tough sometimes…

    • I’m VERY familiar with irregular heartbeats, ImperfectGoddess, and I know how terrifying they can be. I also know that, as long as you’ve ruled out any serious heart issues (which is good to do for your own peace of mind), irregular heartbeats are 100% caused by anxiety. Knowing that should diffuse much of the fear around it and allow you to listen to the heartbeats as a messenger guiding you to take action toward reducing stress and growing calm.

    • Rochelle

      Oh my I often lie in bed and feel like I feel an irregular heartbeat but had no idea what it was, I had a scan done on my heart and they said it was normal. I didn’t realise this was a thing!

  • Sarah

    Thank you for all that you do! I am currently struggling with relationship anxiety. It all started after a breakup with a long term bf that I thought was my end all be all and has followed me into my current relationship( 2 Years). I struggle with many different thoughts but mostly with do I really love him and if you were in the right relationship it would always feel right. Your work has helped me feel like I am not alone, but I am still struggling with anxiety and doing my inner work.

  • Cel

    Dear Sheryl,

    I’ve been struggling with ROCD and HOCD since 5 years now.
    It’s been a long journey of ups and downs.
    At that time I was dating someone (a man), and in the middle of an anxiety attack that came “from nowhere”, the thoughts that maybe I was feeling like that because I didn’t love him anymore or I wasn’t attracted to him popped up on my head, and then HOCD appeared saying that if that was the case maybe it was because I was gay (OCD/fear threw every evidence it could because of younger experiences, etc etc). And since then I got stuck.
    I broke up with him, but I didn’t want to because I didn’t know what was going on with me, I’d cried every day. After a while, we got back together and then less than a year later he broke up with me.
    I felt pretty bad, but I got over it (not so long after breaking up, because being honest now, I can say that it was hard trusting on him because he cheated on me and I could never trust fully on him again. He was always talking and flirting with other girls in the way we started talking before going out, and he was always staring at women all the time. He changed a lot, and we kinda lost having things in common. The girls he used to talk to were NOTHING like me, and that gave me more insecurity about myself. I was pissed with him very often. So at the end, I thought that maybe we weren’t supposed to be together).
    During this relationship and pretty much because he was always talking to girls that were nothing like me, I developed an eating disorder, because those girls were skinny, and I wasn’t. I changed my hair color, almost got my upper lip pierced (just like one girl he was friends with and talk to her every day) and did things that those girls did, just because he liked them and I didn’t want to lose him.
    But then, after months being single and with these hocd thoughts coming and going every often, my actual boyfriend, partner in life, and the most wonderful man I could ever come across with, appeared in the picture.
    I met him 6 years ago and always thought he was handsome, but he had a girlfriend and I was dating my ex.
    The day I saw him after a while, I thought “Mmmmm N… hello there……” haha!
    We started talking, every day, and we’ve been together for almost 3 years now, and it is the best relationship I could ever hoped for.
    We connect. We are “right”. I know those are buzzwords, and it’s not so cool to say it, but I just feel and know that we are “correct for each other”. (I’m from Argentina and can’t find the way to express that well in English right now, but I hope you can understand what I mean!).
    Even though those thoughts never fade away from the beginning, they were there but I could just easily dismiss them because what I was feeling at that moment, was so much strong, and pure and REAL.
    This time last year, (after almost 2 years dating and 10 months living together) I begun to have trouble to let these thoughts go. And I was sunk again.
    By April this year, I was blinded. Every day that passed was even harder. I felt anxious every day, 24 hs a day.
    Lost my appetite, I’d woke up anxious, with a hole in my stomach and really sick.
    The truth was, I never spoke to anyone about this, so by that time when I was feeling awful every moment of every day, I decided to seach for answers and then I came across with a blog, from an Argentinian therapist, about HOCD. I felt like this huge weight fell off my shoulders.
    I felt comforted, but still confused, so I decided to start therapy. Also, I was still having issues and struggling with my relationship anxiety. After 4 months in therapy I now am diagnosed with OCD.
    However, I needed more because I doubt about having OCD as well, because this all seems and feels so real.
    And then, I came across with this blog.
    And I understood things better. I still have sooooo much to work with, because even though I found this blog a couple of months ago, on Saturday I had a relapse and the thoughts came even more stronger than before and I’m kinda lost again, so I needed to read your articles.
    And this one came to my email yesterday, and once again I felt a little bit relieved.
    I know how much I love my partner, I know I have everything that I want and need. And he’s just…. wonderful.
    I don’t want to repeat everything you and the other women here say about how wonderful their partners are, so you can figure out what I’m feeling (just this second, I could hear my mind saying “If you are not writing everything you feel for your partner, is because you don’t feel anything and people would think that you don’t love him anymore, so maybe you don’t love him anymore.)
    It’s so hard to stop paying attention to these thoughts…
    I’m fighting, and I will keep doing it.
    I know what my truth is, because deep inside, when I can see him and things clearly, I can feel that warm wave of fire, electricity and life inside of me.
    It makes me feel really alive.
    That feeling, that truth is what I keep fighting for.
    Hope you read this.

    Thanks for helping me stay calm by saying to myself “everything is going to be fine” when I read your posts.
    Xx

    • ANGIE

      Cel

      wow our stories are very similar!

      I too was in a relationship with someone – it was great at first, very loving. Then i started developing anxieties because i felt i couldn’t satisfy him if i didn’t behave, look or do this that or the other. And the insecurities built up. Not sure which was first – my insecurities or him starting to just be too critical. We were off and on for a very long time and eventually parted ways.
      Even though he still writes from time to time – as we did have a very strong connection.
      Now – 2.5 years – i’m with the man, as you described! and i’m suddenly allowing anxieties to reappear. Because the infatuation is shifting to long term love, but this freaks me out – is he going to love me if the love is different, am i going to love him?

      And yes, this blog too calms me! Best of luck!

      • Cel

        Hi Angie!

        It’s nice to know that you feel kind of related to my story. I’ve been there, and the feeling of relief, it’s like a warm hug after a lonely cold winter night.
        Since 7 months ago, I’ve been reading lots of stories that were similar to mine (some of them, are like they’ve found the way to express things I go through, but I can’t find the words to say it!)
        And each time it’s the same…
        By my experience, by reading and talking to people that goes through the SAME thing as me (as all of us here), I just have to say: “hang in there”.
        Because, I can assure you that this anxiety lives inside of us, and it’s trying to tell us something, not what the thoughts are saying. Not about our relationship nor our partner.
        And we can’t let it win. We can’t let it take what we built as a gorgeous relationship, with a loving, caring, thoughtful and wonderful partner.
        Even though sometimes it feels real and convincing, we’ve got to keep fighting.
        For our truth.
        Even though these thoughts wants to make you doubt about what you think and feel and KNOW it’s your truth, you have to know that even though it feels so convincing, it is still the Fear that’s manipulating us.
        Hang in there 🙂 <3

  • Becca

    This is just a question – I’ve read this several times and I can’t figure out this sentence: “I wouldn’t be so anxious if the relationship was wrong for me.” Am I reading it incorrectly? It seems to me that it should say, “I wouldn’t be so anxious is the relationship was right for me.” Because in my own experience, I decide the relationship is wrong when I feel anxious. This appears to say the opposite, but of course I am also anxious about telling you this, so I could be wrong as well.

  • Alice

    Thanks for the post, Sheryl. Might the same logic conversely hold true if, now nearly four months after a breakup, I still cannot seem to shake the feeling that it is not permanent? Is it simply for “fear of change” that, having reflected on both the expansive and the challenging aspects of our relationship, I still feel that there might be a future? And if this is the case, and yet despite both of us having anxieties I was not the one to suggest the breakup, what does one do but continue to grieve and baffle over the loss?

    • Grieving can take a long time, Alice, and in the span of a grieving process 4 months isn’t very long. The feeling of “it’s not permanent” is a common defense mechanism that shows up during grieving as part of the denial stage; a brilliant way that our psyche protects us from the enormity of grieving all at once and instead puts it on a drip system.

      • Alice

        Thanks for the reply. While I’ve reminded myself that it could be merely a defense mechanism, I have also observed several friends who out of knee-jerk responses or fears broke off meaningful relationships, only to regret it and return together months or years later more resilient. It was a meaningful relationship that ended abruptly. It is a devastating challenge to grieve when there was so much there that was thriving.

  • Onedayatatime

    Sheryl, what about the fear of war? I am hearing the wise mind connecting with your message and what other stuff is going on (transition and grief) but I have been preoccupied with this one for a while now and I can’t seem to rationalize through the powerlessness or helplessness…why work so hard for something if it can be destroyed? I can see this being a manifestation of the fear of death but I think its more the fear of suffering, and anger that I have no control over if/when it happens (and that it seems so pointless). Im not sure how to take a loving adult aoproach with this topic.

    • The deepest layers of this work are about making peace with our fundamental groundlessness and the awareness that so much of life is out of our control. This is where all of the practices that you’ve learned over the years – Tonglen, meditation, journaling – come in full force as we learn to surrender, as your screenname suggests, to one day at a time ;). This is, of course, a pat and simplistic answer to a very complicated question, one that I will be addressing in depth when I release my next 30-day course on accepting uncertainty (health and death anxiety).

  • Anetij

    Dear Sheryl, could you please write about couples, where one or both have never experienced infatuation and/or had doubts from the beginning. I also wanted to ask about “knowing” – I never personally experienced that deep knowing and although I am trying my best to let go of that as “story”, it would be very helpful to get more guidance. Finally, would you be able to advise couples out of sexual sync?

  • Anetij

    In media, the lack of it is portrayed as soon to the longevity of relationship, which can be fear inducing. I also wanted to thank you for your article 3 weeks ago, I’m trying to push myself to do the work, re-reading your article again and again as source of inspiration.

  • Dawn

    I feel like every time I settle in to a feeling of being in a more peaceful state, I come across something that ignites the turmoil all over again! I do struggle with OCD, so I try to stay clear of Googling things, but no matter what I do, I can always find something to make me think “something is wrong.” This was my last trigger. It was actually a good Tweet about the need to feel happy leading to feelings of unhappiness, but took a turn.

    “””I think it depends on the person. My sister thought like this and she broke up with her boyfriend of 10 years. Now she’s married to a different guy who spoils her with love and she’s finally happy. Her ex is happy with his new fiancee too

    Well that’s a different type of “I need to be happy”. She needed to pursue what was right for her. And that was someone else. The “I need to be happy” I’m talking about would’ve kept her with the person she was unhappy with because she wouldn’t have been able to be honest.”””

    • It’s a process, Dawn, to learn how to address the root needs and feelings instead of attaching onto the thought-stories. The more we practice, and the more we learn to connect to that deep well of gratitude and okay-ness that lives underneath all the stories, the more serenity we will find.

  • Laura J

    Hi Sheryl! Just registered for Breaking Free From Relationship Anxiety and It says I need to contact you for a CAPTCHA to register for the forums. Couldn’t find an email address in the Contact page, just the FAQ. Thanks!

  • Lianna

    I experience this “something is wrong” regarding my career choices. Is that a fear path that others experience?

  • Hana

    Hello Sheryl,

    I found my way to your site years ago and have found my way back throughout the years when I have found myself struggling from anxiety and your blog posts have always helped me find peace.

    Recently my husband and I have been going through some big transitions such as moving cities, new home and new jobs and all of it has been incredibly difficult to say the least. I have found myself once again in a whirlpool of intrusive thoughts, difficult emotions and terrible anxiety, which started with my job, shifted over to me wondering what my purpose is and finally settled on my marriage. I have recognised all of this and actually I haven’t done the inner work that needs to be done and I haven’t been taking care of myself in the ways that a ‘loving inner parent’ would. I have also never taken your course because I thought I was ‘over it’ but I don’t think I really know to handle these feelings. I project my negative emotions onto my husband and end up getting anxiety when I’m around him. My sex drive has come to a standstill too. I just feel so empty and depressed.

    I know that my well of self is empty because I have relied on my relationship to make me feel fulfilled which I know is wrong. I’m finding it particularly difficult at the moment to manage all of my feelings which are primarily feelings of sadness, fear and uncertainty. I’m afraid that my marriage is going to fall apart if I don’t pull myself together and find my own self fulfilment as my constant negative rants are upsetting my husband and causing a rift between us…what would you suggest Sheryl? Sometimes I think I have things under control, and I feel like I’m navigating through my emotions but then I get hit by a wave of anxiety and I cripple. I know anxiety is masking the core feelings and that I must sit and listen, feel them with compassion but I find this so difficult to do and I think I’m afraid of my feelings.

    I apologise for the long post…I wanted to get my feelings out here so that anybody could see them and respond if they have been in a similar situation. Thank you

  • confusedinlove

    So thankful for you Sheryl and your wisdom!!

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