Where Anxiety Hangs Its Hat

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

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

So when I receive emails like the following…

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

Breathe It In

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

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

“A prairie dog, Mommy.”

“I know, love. Breathe it in.”

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

Bored and Lonely

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

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

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

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

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

A 24-Hour Challenge

In 2008, shortly after we moved from Los Angeles to Denver with our two-year old son, I adopted a weekly ritual in honor of the Jewish sabbath: to shut down my computer for twenty-four hours. This was before the era of smartphones and before I was pouring my energy into my online business daily, but even back then it was a weekly challenge to rip myself from the seductive distraction of the computer and literally shut it down. Now, with my increasing business demands and feeling chained to a second computer (my phone), it’s even more challenging to divest myself of the opportunity to check, scroll, write, text, and search but, with the exception of a few Saturdays a year when I start a new round of a course, I shut down from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. And, without fail, every time I shut down I feel … Click here to continue reading...

What Should Love Feel Like?

At least once a week, a client asks, “I know that love isn’t all butterflies and fireworks, but what should it feel like? Since I’ve never seen a healthy relationship and I’ve never been in one, I have no idea what it should be like.”

I usually balk at the word “should”, but I know what they’re getting at. They want me to offer some kind of template or description of a healthy relationship so that they know if they’re on the right track. How sad it is that most people are bereft of this model! How tragic, really, that because our culture doesn’t offer these templates we’re left groping around in the dark, grasping at some idea of “healthy” and most often left feeling like we must be doing something wrong or that our relationship is wrong in some way. As Alain do Botton writes in The Course of Click here to continue reading...