When Fear Washes In: Health Anxiety and Other Fears of Death

Fear is a part of life. Sometimes we can keep it at bay, but eventually, with certainty, it will creep in like a red tide on an otherwise calm beach. We try to run, but it’s faster than we are. We try to hide but it discovers all of our hiding places. Eventually we realize that the only way to effectively work with fear is to turn around and face it and to cultivate practices that push it back out to sea where it’s reabsorbed in the great vastness of those bigger waters.

Fear can show up in many ways, with many faces. We fear for our children’s health. We fear that we’re in the wrong relationship. We fear that the strange lump we’ve just discovered is cancer. I can’t tell you how many of my clients struggle with health anxiety on a regular basis. “Every time my throat hurts … Click here to continue reading...

Is My Partner Right For Me?

Among the many questions that plague those suffering from relationship anxiety, the question “Is my partner right for me?” tops the list of last-night ruminations.

As with so many intrusive thoughts, we must first recognize that the question is coming from the ego, the part of ourselves that demands certainty and operates under a black-and-white mindset. Right implies wrong, which plays directly into the ego’s need for certainty and, thus, the illusion of safety. The ego believes if we can answer these unanswerable questions, we can avoid the “fundamental ambiguity of being human”, a phrase that Pema Chodron uses to so aptly describe the discomfort that is an intrinsic and unavoidable part of the human experience.

However, much to the dismay of the ego, life doesn’t come in neat packages that can be divided into black-and-white answers. One of the ego’s sole missions is to try to control … Click here to continue reading...