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...

Birth Trauma and Anxiety

When working with anxiety and intrusive thoughts, the essential component is to resist the gravitational and habitual pull to attach onto the stories that appear like planets in our inner galaxy and assume that they’re true.  The story of the day – whether it centers around your relationship, your fertility, your job, your health, or your children – occupies so much space and presents its argument with such conviction that the untrained mind will naturally attach and interpret in a lightening flash second. That’s why the first step is to name all of your go-to thoughts so that when they appear you can immediately identify them for what they are: flares from psyche that come bearing gifts in the form of the alarming story of the current thought.

Once we detach from the thought-sphere, we must then ask, “What is this thought protecting me from feeling? What is the … Click here to continue reading...

Invite Anxiety to Tea

If anxiety is denied, shamed, or judged, it often shows up at the back door, as what demands to be known will always find its way into awareness for the purpose of consciousness and healing. A backdoor arrival of anxiety often sounds like:

I don’t love my partner enough.

What if I end up alone and destitute?

What if I die?

I don’t love my partner.

My partner irritates me all the time.

What if I never get pregnant?

Why do I call this “backdoor anxiety”? Because these what-ifs and concrete statements that sound like facts are projections, secondary manifestations of root pain that need attention. Relationship anxiety is the distress flare that alerts us to the deeper, hidden pain. Intrusive thoughts, when worked with effectively, are arrows that point the way into the dry patches of our well of Self. When we listen and work with the … Click here to continue reading...

Ode to Women

On my way to yoga this morning, I noticed my heart aching with a familiar combination of sadness and indignation. It didn’t take many breaths to uncover the source: Mother’s Day. A national holiday to honor mothers created by a woman named Anna Jarvis in 1908, and later denounced by her as she felt increasingly disgusted by its commercialization. She actually spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.

There are many spokes to the wheel of my sadness:

1. While I know that mothers deserve to be honored (more on that in a minute), I also know how deeply painful this day is for: the millions of women who longed to be a mother and their childbearing time has passed; women who are in their 40s, single, and longing to meet a partner with whom they can have a child; women who … Click here to continue reading...

Sleep Anxiety: Guest Post by Carrie Dinow

As many of you know who follow my blog, Carrie and I met in graduate school over twenty years ago, and we both agree that our friendship was the best gift to come out of that program. We have grown together as friends, wives, and colleagues, shaping each other in every way possible and holding each other as sisters along our twin paths. I cannot imagine who I would be without her by my side every step of the way, from conceiving on the same day (our kids are two weeks apart) to growing our counseling practices to learning about what it means to be consciously married. And, as I know that many of you suffer from sleep anxiety, it is with deepest respect and gratitude that I share her words of wisdom and compassion with you here. 


“Please let me sleep!” you plead, either silently or aloud. But … Click here to continue reading...