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 … Click here to continue reading...

Dream Theme: I Cheated on My Partner

A common dream theme appeared last week on my Open Your Heart forum: cheating on one’s partner. The course participant wrote:

I never remember dreams but just had one last night where I cheated on my bf with a guy I used to date and had no feelings for. In the dream I felt really bad and told my best friend I wasn’t going to tell him that I cheated because it meant nothing and didn’t want to hurt him. She told me that was really dishonest and I was wrestling with that. I am wondering now if this means I feel guilty that I am having all this anxiety and doubting the relationship and he thinks everything is fine because I act really loving towards him, tell him I love him (and I do!). But the fact that he has no idea I’m struggling with this makes me feel Click here to continue reading...

Relationship Anxiety: Intuition or Fear?

A subset topic of the million-dollar question –  is my anxiety/doubt evidence that my truth is that I’m with the wrong partner or does it mean something else? – is the issue of intuition versus anxiety. In other words, embedded inside every question of the mind suffering from relationship anxiety is, “Isn’t this anxiety really my intuition telling me to leave?”

That’s certainly what the culture says. That’s what most of your well-meaning friends and relatives will say. That’s even what many therapists will say. The mainstream message about anxiety in a relationship clearly reads, “Doubt means don’t.”

But that’s not what people say who are well-versed in the language of fear, those who know how it can sneakily show up in relationships through the back door and masquerade as doubt, anxiety, and numbness. That’s not what people say when they’ve traveled the dusty back roads of relationships, the ones … Click here to continue reading...

No Escape Hatch From Life

We are not taught to meet life on life’s terms. Left to ourselves, we have this nifty little defense mechanism called an ego that will shift and move and invent and convince in order to remove us from meeting life square in the eye. All of the ego’s intrusive thoughts and fear-based schemes are, in fact, finely crafted and often convincing escape hatches designed to remove us from touching the raw places that define being human: our loneliness, pain, fear, uncertainty, and transcendence.

I work with pregnant women who have the thought “I don’t care about this new life.” I work with people in loving relationships who are dragged down the rabbit hole of anxiety by the thought, “I don’t love him/her.” I work with new mothers who become terrified by the thought directed toward their baby, “I hate you.” Because we’re not taught how to work with our thoughts … Click here to continue reading...

Great Doubt Great Awakening

I’ll never forget the day I was trying to find a parking spot at our local market and I saw this bumper sticker:

Great Doubt Great Awakening

Little Doubt Little Awakening

No Doubt Fast Asleep

– Zen Maxim

Now, Boulder is full of philosophical bumper stickers of all persuasions, but if you know my work, I’m sure you can imagine why this one brought a huge smile to my face. You mean Zen Buddhism is supporting what I talk about every day in my work? How wonderful!

Buddhist Psychotherapist Tara Brach says it this way:

“Like investigation, healthy doubt arises from the urge to know what is true–it challenges assumptions or the status quo in service of healing and freedom. In contrast, unhealthy doubt arises from fear or aversion, and it questions one’s own basic potential or worth, or the value of another.”

― Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace Click here to continue reading...