The Critical Moment to Break Free From Anxiety

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  – Viktor E. Frankl

If we could slow life down to micro-moments, if we could literally alter time like a movie turning it into sloooooow moooooootiiiooon so that we could elongate the critical moment when our mind veers off like a runaway locomotive and instead redirect it to stay on the smooth track of clear thinking, everything would change. As challenging as it sounds, that’s exactly what we must do if we’re going to rewire the brain to respond to the stimulus that sends the anxious mind into overdrive.

Let’s break this down with a common example of how this shows up in relationship anxiety:

“I’ll receive a text with a loving gesture, maybe a flirty emoticon or something sexy, and I’ll feel … Click here to continue reading...

It's Hard Being Human

At least once a day the phrase “it’s hard being human” enters my brain. It usually arrives on the heels of my sons arguing with each other and me trying to teach them how to communicate more effectively. As a result of feeling hurt, one will lash out at the other, and before we know it the great domino effect of anger feeds off each other until they’re both in a rage. When we’ve slowed them back down to somewhere near neutral, I’ll say something like, “Next time he hurts your feelings, can you try saying, ‘That hurt my feelings’ or ‘Let’s take some space’ instead of lashing out?” It’s a conversation I’ve had a hundred times with them, and only recently has it begun to take hold so that once a while one of them will resist the impulse to lash out and instead say, “That hurt my feelings.” … Click here to continue reading...

Love is Softening

Our hearts are encased in protection, layers of materials like iron or brick that create a fortress around our most sensitive selves. When these material first arrived, they came as friends, for our hearts as young people didn’t know how to rest undefended. We needed to harden in order to survive. But one aspect of growing up means realizing that our greatest strength is what we have become conditioned to believe is our greatest weakness: a softened heart is a wise heart, and it no longer needs the armor it thought it needed to keep it safe.

Safety, as an adult, means dropping the defenses. It means letting those we love into our innermost chambers. It means saying “I don’t know” or “Yes, maybe that as well” instead of being entrenched in one position. It means taking the risk of being vulnerable, which by definition is an undefended state. It … Click here to continue reading...

Love is a Habit

Left to it’s own devices, the mind will gravitate toward its most well-worn thought-groove, which, for many people, is fear and anxiety. The heart, following suit, will gravitate toward its basic defensive posture of fear: it hardens off to protect against the possibility of hurt and loss. While it’s important to understand the root causes of anxiety, fear, and why we defend (because we’ve all been hurt so we all know how vulnerable love renders us), what’s equally if not more important is to create new habits that allow the mind and heart to create new thought-and-action patterns that will result in opening and softening.

In this sense, feeling love and attraction for our partners is a habit that we can consciously cultivate and create. Left to the familiar habit, we will surrender to the fear-walls that want to jut up and create a comfortable chasm between us and our … Click here to continue reading...

When You Feel Irritated with Your Partner

“He irritates me all the time. How can he be a good match if I’m constantly annoyed?”

At first things were great with my girlfriend and everything flowed smoothly between us. But now all she has to do is laugh and I want to jump out of my skin. I guess she’s not the one for me.”

If we take relationship irritation at face value, we’ll likely fall into the dominant cultural message system that says, “If you’re that irritated, you’re probably with the wrong person. Love should have more flow and ease than this.” But, as you may know from following my work, I don’t take anything at face value. Provided you’re in a good, loving relationship, I’m interested in what lies beneath the surface. I’m interested in viewing reactions – like irritation or anxiety – as symptoms that point to thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or actions inside of Click here to continue reading...