Leaf in the Wind Syndrome

“I’m always comparing my relationship to other people’s relationships. Why does everyone else look like they’re so in love?”

“I have such a hard time making decisions. Sometimes I can’t even decide what to order at a restaurant!”

“I worry about whether or not my family likes my partner. I always care so much about what they think.”

“I believe every anxious thought that enters my brain. It’s exhausting.”

“What if I’m gay? What if I’m a pedophile? What if I have a terminal illness?” 

All of these statements are symptoms of the same core issue: lack of self-knowledge and self-love which result in a lack of self-trust. In other words, when we’re filled up inside – when the waters of our well of Self are full – we have a strong and solid sense of ourselves and so we naturally stop caring what others think, stop comparing, stop needing … Click here to continue reading...

When Love Makes You Flinch

One of the common fear-lines that arises when the ego is trying to deconstruct the idea of relationship anxiety and convince you that your truth is that you’re just with the wrong person is: “If what Sheryl says is true, why don’t more people talk about it?”

It’s an understandable question, and I have many responses to it. But the best response is to inform the person who is questioning that those who are intimately familiar with the ins-and-outs of relationships do, in fact, talk about the interplay between fear and love in a very similar way as I do. Clergy, couple therapists, longtime married couples, and anyone on the front lines of real relationships know that love includes fear, that certainty is often followed by doubt, that love is action, and that falling in love isn’t a prerequisite for having a great relationship. It’s only the mainstream media – … Click here to continue reading...

If I'm Calm Now Is It Still Relationship Anxiety?

There is often a predictable arc to relationship anxiety that includes three stages.*

The first stage is characterized by typical symptoms of anxiety and panic:

Can’t sleep Can’t eat Tearful Depressed Bolting awake in the middle of the night Difficulty functioning at work Fluttering stomach Racing heart

On a purely physiological level, we can’t maintain this state of high anxiety for very long. Eventually the alarm will simmer down to something that feels like calm. This isn’t the true calm that arrives after working long and hard facing our fears. Rather, it’s the calm that follows the dramatic and intense storm of the first stage. It’s where psyche and soma settle into a manageable state that might be characterized more by numbness or indifference than true calm. You can sleep now. You can eat. You can function. But you’re just not that excited about your relationship. At least when you … Click here to continue reading...

Anxiety Blocks Connection

On the heels of my post from two weeks ago, which was both comforting and spike-inducing for some of my readers and course members, I’m elaborating on the topic of connection, specifically this one line:

Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone.

What does this mean? It means that when you’re trapped in the sticky thought-forms of anxiety, you’re not going to feel connected to your partner. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your connection is at its core. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent a day, four months, or two years feeling deeply connected to each other. When anxiety takes hold, it rips all of that away from you in a single moment and steals the aliveness from your life. Anxiety, while often manifesting in the body, is a head state, and if you’re in your head … Click here to continue reading...

The Joy of Loving Freely

I write a lot about the power of fear and the work of relationships. I write about this to help people learn about the tricky ways that fear manifests in intimate relationships, which helps them to identify fear more readily, thereby diminishing its power. We chart how fear shows up in our minds and bodies, call it out on the mat, and thus begin the work of releasing its stronghold over our ability to show up fully for our intimate loved one.

But what I don’t write a lot about is what you can expect to feel when fear starts to loosen its grip. Is it realistic to feel the butterflies and ecstatic longing that we’ve culturally come to identify as the hallmarks of being in love? No, but it’s realistic to expect something so much better.

What are the qualities of real love?

Real love is two open human … Click here to continue reading...