Risk Aversion and Anxiety

I’m standing on the edge of my life, as if on the shores of a cold but beautiful lake. I want to dive in but I’m scared, only the fear doesn’t sound like fear as much as doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and ambivalence. What if I make a mistake? What if the water is too cold and I can’t breathe? What if there’s a better lake out there: warmer, smoother, less dangerous? I’m here but I do not move, too scared to fail, too scared to risk, too scared to live. 

One of the hallmark characteristics of being on the sensitive-anxious-creative spectrum is the tendency to lean toward safety and away from risk. As sensitives who can see and imagine all possibilities, we’re constantly scanning the horizon and imagining everything that can go terribly awry in any situation. As I’ve written in other blog posts, this quality served us very well … Click here to continue reading...

The Escape Hatch of Perfection

There are so many ways that we can avoid pain. We can choose denial. We can self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. We can fall prey to fear/ego’s insidiously convincing beliefs that to turn inward is “selfish, indulgent, and will get you nowhere.” We avoid pain because we live in a culture that teaches us to avoid pain. We avoid pain because we don’t know that turning toward pain (and I use pain as an umbrella term for anything uncomfortable that we wish to avoid feeling) is one of the secret pathways to joy.

If you’ve found your way to my site, one of your default methods of avoiding pain is likely to travel up to the safe regions of your mind where pain can’t find you. There you sit at the Great Loom of Intrusive Thoughts and spin your web of “what-ifs” and “if-onlys”, each thread keeping you stuck in … 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...

Living by Your North Star

When you live by your North Star, you care less about what other people think.

When live by your North Star, you rely on the well of wisdom inside to help you make decisions both big and small.

When you live by your North Star, you have a clear sense of direction that guides your daily and moment-by-moment actions. It’s like being on autopilot in the best possible way, trusting in the rhythm and wisdom of your body as you flow with a life force that you trust instead of resist.

What is a North Star? It’s the outgrowth of filling your well of Self with warm, clear waters. What is a well of Self? It’s the place inside that is nourished by turning inward and attending to your physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual realms.

Everything in our culture encourages you turn outward and look to others for your … Click here to continue reading...

The Call to Turn Inward

Jung observed that the Aboriginal people of Australia spend two-thirds of their waking lives in some form of inner work… We modern people can scarcely find a few hours free in an entire week to devote to the inner world.

– Robert Johnson, Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth

The time comes when life as you’ve been living it is no longer working. Perhaps you’ve been taken down by illness. Perhaps insomnia is punctuating your sleep night after night, week after week, year after year. Perhaps you’ve reached your breaking point with the incessant barrage of worry and intrusive thoughts that parade across your brain every hour of the day. Perhaps you’re exhausted by your lifelong tendency to absorb other people’s lives and care so much about what others think.

Guided by an extroverted culture that teaches us to externally-reference our sense of Self, … Click here to continue reading...