The Fear of Losing Control

When we spiral down into the deeper layers of anxiety – whether relationship anxiety or any other form that anxiety takes – we find some universal root causes that live at the center. These exist on both the emotional and psychological/spiritual planes, and they all need our attention if we’re going to heal. It requires tremendous courage and fortitude to peer directly into the root causes without the filters of projections or defenses protecting us, as when we peel away the hardened shell that has protected our hearts our entire lives, we come face-to-face with our own soft and defenseless vulnerability.

On the emotional level we find a fear of “enoughness”: Am I lovable enough, good enough, worthy enough to be loved? Of course, as I’ve discussed extensively in other posts and in my courses, this fear often first manifests as a projection onto your partner’s perceived imperfections, but when … Click here to continue reading...

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...

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...

Death, Eventually

There it is, beneath the thoughts, the chatter, the doubt, the irritation, the barriers against love in all of its varied manifestations: the fear of loss, the fear of change, the excruciating awareness that we will, all of us, ultimately, be separated from the ones we love. At times it seems one of the cruelest realities of life on this planet: that we can love so deeply, but eventually we will separate. Yet as much as we can rail against life, beat our heads against the walls of the universe, argue, bargain, and rage, at some point we need to come into acceptance of death if we are to live our lives with any measure of peace. Death is what is, and to resist what is leads to suffering.

And yet… the more sensitive you are the more acutely aware you will be of death’s many faces, and the more … Click here to continue reading...

The Risk of Living and Loving

On our way home from a lovely Christmas day with my family who lives about an hour away from us it started to snow. At first it was a wet sleet, but within a few minutes it thickened to a snow storm, and before we knew it we were driving through a white-out. The temperature dropped quickly, the slick roads turned icy, and everyone’s speed slowed to a crawl. We were driving in treacherous conditions.

I doubt anyone enjoys driving in those conditions, but being from California I seem to have a particularly strong aversion to driving in snow and ice. So I sat quietly next to my husband, who was intently focusing on the road, and sent out prayers for us and everyone around us: Please let us all arrive safely at our destinations. We’re driving in treacherous conditions. We passed a car turned upside down on the side … Click here to continue reading...