The Voices in Your Head

Photo by Victoria Russell

Photo by Victoria Russell

 

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it. If you don’t understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you…

“If you watch it objectively, you will come to see that much of what the voice says is meaningless. Most of the talking is just a waste of time and energy. The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it. It’s like sitting down at night and deciding whether you want the sun to come up in the morning. The bottom line is that the sun will come up and the sun will down. Billions of things are going on in this world. You can think about it all you want, but life it still going to keep on happening…

“Now this raises a serious question: If so much of what the voice says is meaningless and unnecessary, then why does it even exist? The secret to answering this question lies in understanding why it says what it says when it says it. For example, is some cases the mental voice talks for the same reasons that a teakettle whistles. That is, there’s a buildup of energy inside that needs to be released. If you watch objectively, you will see that when there’s a buildup of nervous, fearful, or desire-based energies inside, the voice becomes extremely active…

“What you’ll see, if you study this carefully, is that the narration makes you feel more comfortable with the world around you. Like backseat driving, it makes you feel as though things are more in your control. You actually feel like you have some relationship with them…”

– Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul

The voices inside our heads make us feel in control. As we spiral deeper and deeper into the work of healing from anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, insomnia, and other symptomatic manifestation of internal pain, we recognize that one of the core spokes underlying these challenges is the need for control. The anxious, fear-based mind – the voice inside that believes that something or someone out there is the cause of our unrest, unease, and anxiety – latches onto the stories as a way to try to control the outcome and, ultimately, avoid taking full responsibility for our well-being. After all, if the solution to the problem is as easy as swapping out a partner, job, house, or city, we never have to do our internal work. We just keep crawling after the next dangling carrot in hopes of finding the elixir of happiness.

But what happens when the elixir never comes? What happens when we chase and achieve and find ourselves at 25 or 35 or 55 with a loving partner, a home, a good job, and still the anxiety and the voices won’t leave us alone? Then it’s time to dig down into the muck and mud that we’ve been avoiding all those years and get very, very messy. It’s time to get into relationship with the voices in our heads.

And there’s not just one voice; there are many voices. If we’re going to break free from anxiety and depression, we need to shift into conscious relationship with all of them instead of falling prey to the habitual tendency to push them away from shame. The first step in all healing practices  – which ultimately simmers down to learning how to work with thoughts, feelings, and needs – is to make room for the voices and wash them in nice warm bath of acceptance. For as soon as the judgement enters that says, “What’s wrong with you for having such a horrible thought?”, an inner vice clamps down on your mind and heart and the learning comes to a screeching halt. Instead of opening doors inside with curiosity, you shut down and the only place for that initial spark of energy to go is into anxiety. And then more intrusive thoughts. And more anxiety.

And yet we have to be careful that we don’t give the thought itself too much attention. Until we learn to work effectively with thoughts, we tend to vacillate between two polarities: on the one hand we avoid the thought and try to shut it down from shame, and on the other hand we indulge the thought itself through seeking reassurance, googling, and journaling about it, and then discover that thoughts feed on attention.

The middle path is to acknowledge the thought but not believe it. Michael Singer suggests that we find freedom when we can watch the voice without latching onto it. This is certainly one essential spoke to the working-with-thoughts wheel. But I like to take it a step further and apply the Jungian model of not only seeing the thoughts, but having a relationship with them. This means naming them as characters of the mind, none of which, as Singer writes, are the you of you. The more clearly we can name the characters, the easier it is to de-fuse from them and see them as part of us but not the essential “me of me.”

Often when I talk to my clients about the voices in their heads their first response is, “But if I talk to them doesn’t that make me schizophrenic?” An understandable fear, but the truth is that they’re there whether you admit it or not. And the first rule of psychology is: what you resist persists. The longer you deny their existence and try to push them underground, the louder and stronger they become until they pop out the top in the form of intrusive thoughts.

It’s often more palatable to think of the voices as characters. We know that we have different parts of ourselves that take center stage in different situations. We have a Critic, a Controller, a Good Girl/Boy. We can recognize that with some people and in certain situations our Pleaser is at the forefront, while at other times it’s straight Fear that steals the show. Naming the characters helps us to see them as part of us but separate from us. The common characters that dominate the mind of someone suffering from relationship anxiety are the following:

The Detractor says: “You might think that’s the truth, but you’re just lying to yourself.

The Doubter says: “You’re just convincing yourself. Come on, why are you wasting everyone’s time? If it’s right it’s right and you know it’s time to move on.”

The Checker says: “Am I feeling love? Am I feel attracted? Let me take a quick peek and see if “those feelings” are there.”

Ultimately, these are all manifestations of Fear. The more specifically we can name the fear, the more we can all it out onto the mat and stop believing its lies. That’s why it’s important to name the characters and become so familiar with them so that the next time they sidle into the driver’s seat you can easily and quickly say, “Oh, hello Doubter.”

I’ll end with a beautiful poem that Break Free From Relationship Anxiety/Conscious Weddings E-Course member Findingpeace28 recently shared on the forum about what it looks like to shift into conscious relationship with fear (shared with her permission):

Just wanted to share a poem I wrote that I wrote to inspire hope for those of us having hard days:

 Oh, hello fear, how I would love to say that it’s so nice to see you, that you’re a welcome guest, a loving friend, someone I’ll love until the end. 

You are no stranger. Not even in the slightest. From as long as I could speak, and likely even before then, you’ve been there. A loyal acquaintance, I’d like to say. Someone who knows how to make your way to my mind and my heart, promising me you’ll stay. 

I used to spend so many weary days and nights, fighting you with every inch of my fiber. “Won’t you just leave?!” I’d scream, “you can’t just take over when you want, you’re not allowed to destroy me!”

But I’d be left exhausted, defeated. Tired and worn down, you’d sit in your corner and smile that smile. “Not funny,” I’d scream. But I knew you’d be there for a while. 

So instead of fighting you, instead of all of my efforts going in vain, I finally decided to talk to you in a rational matter.

“Who are you? And why are you here?” I begun. “You’ve wrecked so much havoc and terror, always causing me to run.”

And then when your smile began to cease, and the tears began to fill your eyes, I realized all those truths you’d always whispered to me, were ultimately just lies. 

It wasn’t your intention to break me, to always cause me to run, you simply just wanted to protect me from all the harm that life can lunge. 

“Oh, fear,” I sighed with a sympathetic plea. “You’ve overreacted for much too long, you were too much, too heavy and strong.” 

I know you were just doing your best to keep me safe, and I know you’ll forever be around, you have no other place to go. But we’re going to do things differently now, this you must know. 

You can scream and you can yell, you can tell me no and to run, you can overtake my mind and overwhelm my heart, but I’m not going to always listen to you, please understand. I know you’ve done the best you can, but I need to know that I can stand.

Stand on my own without your lingering voice. Committing to always choosing love over fear as if I had no other choice.

67 comments to The Voices in Your Head

  • Berrylotusgirl

    Ah, this article was just what I needed today. Thank you, Sheryl, for helping me understand more deeply this intense voice of resistance I have as a character born of fear. Your words soothed me and gave me hope!

    • It can be helpful to name the characters of resistance and fear with actual names, like “Ah, there’s Beverly, my resistance!” Or whatever name comes to you 😉

  • Nicole

    I’m in tears because this post was an answer to my prayers today. Thank you.

  • Marg

    That’s such a helpful reframe to move from being ruled by the voices to the one that hears them. The idea of engaging with the voices does feel intimidating to me – uncharted territory, but maybe this new dialogue will be the unlock to breaking down some of these false beliefs. Do you have any other posts that dive further into this dialoguing? I’ve ordered the book too and look forward to exploring this!

  • Bran

    Hey Sheryl! Do you know of any high school sweethearts that have made the work whether it was long distance in college r attending the same university and how they made it work? I’m scared me and the love of my life won’t make it work and it’s crippling and I’m scared I won’t want to be with her one day.

  • marissa

    The thing I have learned is that the fear never really goes away, it just diminishes in intensity, or we stop paying attention to it. As I am now halfway through my first pregnancy, I am working super hard to not getting sucked into the fear vortex. Yoga and meditation are indispensable in this respect, as is your wisdom, Sheryl

    • Yes, I agree, and the more we try to make fear go away, the stronger it gets. All parts of ourselves ultimately need love and attention in the right way until the tender, vulnerable spot in the middle is revealed.

  • Cemoore10

    I recently bought the untethered soul thanks to being a member of the comscious bride e-course. This post was s nice complement to the reading and really helped me name and separate my anxieties.

    The poem was lovely. I really enjoyed the part about being kind to your fear, acknowledging it, and taking control. Before the e-course, I never saw love as a choice, which allowed my intrusive thoughts to control me. I have always suffered from ocd but never imagined it could manifest within my relationship!

  • John Lee

    Such a wonderful gift Sheryl…Thank you! Goes so well with a book I just starting reading by David Richo titled WHEN LOVE MEETS FEAR. It is echoing all you are saying, so the reminders are so welcome. And to FindingPeace 28, your words so reflect my fear. Thank you.
    John

  • Emily

    Thanks Sheryl. This is so great. It reminds me of an interview I just watched with Elizabeth Gilbert. She said something similar: “Fear is a necessary companion….What my relationship with fear begins with is a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation. Fear is the reason I’m alive today….All of us are here because our fear is constantly protecting us, that’s its job. And it does it’s job beautifully. It’s just that it’s all jacked up on Red Bull, and it’s really trigger happy, and it doesn’t know that difference between a genuinely dangerous situation and just a little bit of a nervy situation. [So when fear arises within me] I just talk to it, but in this really friendly way, and I don’t go to war against it, I acknowledge it’s importance, and I invite it along, and I’m like, ‘You can come with me, but I’m doing this thing!’…Fear’s gonna be in the car, but it’s gonna be in the back seat, and it’s not gonna drive, or choose the snacks, or hold the map, or touch the radio. Fear doesn’t get to make any decisions.” I just love that.

  • Hannah

    I always feel so comforted. Thank you Sheryl. I don’t have a lot of money for an e course at this time and you will never know how much your blog posts have helped me. Thank you thank you!

  • Nicole A

    Hi Sheryl!
    I loved this post. I definitely think I suffer from relationship anxiety and I plan to purchase the e-course soon. (I think I show some OCD tendencies, or skin picking disorder, because I pick the cuticles around my nails and the skin on my lips, and just recently I started experiencing anxiety) I am in a long distance relationship with an amazing man.. He has all the qualities I want in a partner. We’ve been dating about a year now and we see each other about once a month, which is great. I started having doubts and anxiety about our relationship a few months and I realized I also have anxiety when I’m physically with him, which kills me because I just want to be able to enjoy our time together especially since I do not see him much. Is that normal to be experiencing anxiety when you are in a long distance relationship and physically visiting your partner? Sometimes I feel as though it’s so abnormal and that if anything, seeing him should make me feel at ease and ease my anxiety. Why is this? Thank you so much for all your posts they put my mind at ease!!

  • maggir

    Looove your articles. Amazing! I look forward to them everytime!

  • Stippa

    What a beautiful poem, it speaks deeply to me. The last couple of weeks have been the hardest weeks of my life. My anxiety broke through. It was no longer projected only by boyfriend, but on life itself. Depression hit me, I doubted if I could live like this for any longer. But I noticed something beautiful. I never felt such deep love for my partner, the projection left him and despite the horror in my mind and heart, the feelings for him came rushing back. I know it’s not him but me now. The weird thing is though, that as my medication started to work a couple of days ago and I could function better, the relationship anxiety came back and I shut my boyfriend out again. I wonder what this means… I know I have a very long road of therapy to go, luckily I found myself a very wise psychoanalyst who I trust. Life can be hard, but I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for this post, we are not our thoughts, I know that now. x

    • I’m so glad you’ve found a wonderful therapist. We all need mentors and guides through this journey of life, especially when the darkness descends. Hang on. You’re doing very deep, good work, and now you know it’s not your partner, which is HUGE. Sending hugs. x

  • Mohammad

    This is just an amazing article Sheyrl!

    I’d just like to share an idea just inspired to me through this article. When Sheryl was talking about when a thought attacks you, you need not to avoid it from shame nor to indulge it and feed it, but that “The middle path is to acknowledge the thought but not believe it”.

    I stopped here and thought a lot that although I strongly agree and be more and more able to understand what Sheryl means by that, but honestly it is truly hard and not easy for me (and maybe many others) to be able to put this in reality (to apply the middle path), maybe as we are still not healed, still trying to do the work and so don’t really know how to make such balance.
    So I’d like to share a “just-inspired” tangible technique that “may” help some as a practice to get close to this middle path. I don’t know how true to think this way or not, but like to share anyway…

    When you go for a mechanic to fix something in your car, first thing he asks you Clarifying “What’s the problem sir?” then when you answer, he Acknowledges saying “mmm, this is vital, it is good that you come now not later”, then he Responds and fixes the error. Then he CHECKS with you instantly or ask you to check later if things are fine.

    So what the mechanic does is to Clarify about the error, Acknowledges its importance, Responds and fixes it, then keeps CHECKING its good status. See the initials? It is CAR Check!

    Why not to apply the CAR Check technique to the intrusive thoughts attacking us? When we have such a thought, let’s pause and instead of avoiding it or crying over it, let’s talk to it and Clarify first “Hey, tell me which character are you? The Doubter?” Then let’s Acknowledge the “apparently” good cause for it to comes: “Ah, I understand you are trying to protect me from vulnerability or pain or suffering, this is appreciated, but trust me, it is not this, it is something deeper that I need to see, accept and so to fix, away from all this which mislead you to think it is my relationship”. Then let’s Respond and work for fixation through dealing with our Self, grow our Self-worthiness, grow our parent Self, mindfully dealing with our thoughts and separate ourselves from the anxious fear. Finally we need to keep Checking our well-being, we need to keep connected to the Self, to keep conscious about our unconsciousness health.

    I hope this is correct and helps others that need help and need to go through fear and anxiety just like me.

  • Rosemary

    Reminds me of the recent children’s film ‘Inside Out’ by Pixar. Brings to life this understanding through animation in an entertaining but thought provoking way – the characters of ‘fear’ and ‘sadness’ co-exist alongside ‘joy’, ‘anger’, ‘disgust’. I took my children to see the film as I am trying to introduce them to these concepts while they are still young – but as an adult it’s an enjoyable film when you watch the film through the lens of this understanding and can see how all the ‘players’ inside our heads are acting out…

    • I can’t wait to see Inside Out. I’ve heard a lot about it; it sounds like it’s wisely psychological and can help people understand this exact concept. My kids loved it!

  • EnglishRose

    My partner suffers from relationship anxiety but the down periods are becoming less and less frequent thankfully. For some reason at this time of year we always seem to go through a rough patch. He’s going through a particularly stressful time at work at the moment and I find it hard not to automatically attribute his withdrawn behaviour to his ‘doubts’ about our relationship. Often I think I make it worse by listening too much to my worries about how he feels about me, which then sparks him off too as he feels he’s not making me happy. I need to really work hard on not believing all of my thoughts.

    • This is a challenging time of year for many people. The change of seasons and entering the holidays triggers untold stress, grief, and anxiety, and the more we can attend to those places lovingly and consciously, the less we will need to project.

  • silver

    Hi this article helps a bit. I’m really thankful for this website because if I haven’t found it. I already called it quits and stopped trying a long time ago. I’ve listened to my self already that I should stopped progressing and listened to my gut feelings that there’s something wrong with the relationship and my partner. Now I keep looking at myself whether what is wrong with me. Since I’ve found myself in a very loving relationship, She’s not the one I’ve been looking for in a partner but someone who would be too bright for the future. She’s very loving, caring, beautiful(too many guys want her or follow her), protective and very open. While I keep overlooking her, sometimes I keep looking at her flaws while disregarding mine. I keep having this mindset that there is someone out there who will make me cringe who will make me drop on my knees and hear the sound of trumpets when I see her. But this lady is something there is something that makes me comeback to her. Still I’m figuring out why I keep running or not feeling anything when I lose her. I still keep looking maybe I stopped the things the efforts I had for her, I fail to appreciate what is in front of me, I fail to see the beauty in front of me. I fail to understand how lucky I am, how genuine my partner is to me. How I wish I hadn’t this kind of anxiety or lack of feelings. Makes me think that she deserves someone who will love her without doubts. I wish I was that kind of guy. I wish I don’t doubt even though there is no such thing as 100%

  • ncmountaingirl

    This post could not have come at a better time. I have finally worked up the courage to begin working through your Break Free course (after purchasing it about a month ago), and yesterday while reading through comments on another post, one in particular spiked me. I latched on to this thought that “I don’t love my partner, I only love how he makes me feel,” and spent last night in a fitful sleep, barely breathing with each inhale and exhale. This post brought me such comfort. Thank you!

  • Angela

    Hi Anxiety
    Your here at mydoors once again
    Like a mother trying to protect it from getting hurt from love
    Dont be affraid I say
    Please let me be
    Please let me be
    I am where Im suppose to be
    I feel loved, I feel safe, I feel happy
    I am still me but more
    I belong with my husband
    I welcome you with an open heart
    And open arms
    Creativity is my birthright
    Spirituality is me in depths of my soul
    And i express it effortlessly
    I owe it to myself
    To me and to others
    Angela Rampal

  • Soph

    Hi sheryl i have recently purchased your break free course and im excited to start it, however i still have my negativity saying “sure you dont like him.. nothings going to change it” Ive been writing down my thoughts eg “you dont like spending time with him” (one of my most annoying thoughts) and writing beside them how i feel when i think them eg. sad and tearful. however i still cant accept that is just a thought which frustrates me and puts me further down the rabbit hole. I’m starting CBT and was wondering do you think this would go well with your course? Thanks Sophie

    • In Section Three of the course I will walk you step-by-step how to work with your thoughts. The key is, after giving the initial thoughts a quick dose of truth, to go more deeply into what is needing attention inside, which has nothing to do with your partner. Right now it sounds like you’re focusing too much on the thought itself, and that will always send you down the rabbit hole.

  • Dana

    Hi Sheryl,
    I’ve been reading your blog and it has been immesnsly helpful. Though I would like to ask you, many people here are facing anxiety during engagement or marriage but I felt these things before I even said yes to my boyfriend. I always felt something was missing and I wasn’t good enough and somewhere I knew it was just me being scared.Even as I type this I know it’s just a doubt but I need ressuarance from someone who knows. Is this just a infatuation being over or is it actually progressing towards actually being in love. Really appreciate your blog and your help.Thanks with all my heart.

    • Most of the people following my blog have experienced doubt from the beginning, and that’s exactly why I created the new e-course. Doubt can hit at any time. For some it hits during transitions, but for most others it’s there in some form even in the early stages of a relationship.

  • Bettina

    This article saves my day! THANK YOU Sheryl! 🙂

  • blm5126

    Absolutely love this. I really needed this today!

  • Elise

    This post came at the perfect time! I never doubted or questioned my relationship or the love I have for him until after we became engaged! It was like this weird feeling hit me all of sudden and I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.. I started have anxiety and panic attacks, I have always been an anxious/ worrisome person but it has never caused me to have panic attacks or just become nervous for no reason until after we became engaged. Several times through the engagement I had very clear moments, moments without all the doubt and questioning and in those times I was happy like I was before and I knew without a doubt in my mind that I wanted to spend my life with my fiancée, just like I did when we were dating. Those thoughts kept me going and we recently got married. I was suprisngly calm during the whole wedding day. Shortly after the wedding day all of these doubts and fears came back and they have been stronger than ever. The thought I don’t love him crosses my mind and also the thought of me telling him I can’t be with you anymore crosses my mind as well. These thoughts make me cringe and make me so nasueas and at the same time it’s like I don’t feel anything at all. When reading this post and how you named all of the thoughts for what they are I was like wow she read my mind and literally I could relate to them all! I’m trying to push through this the best I can and sometimes I feel like I’m reaching my breaking point and can’t push any more! I fear losing him but I also fear that I don’t love him anymore? (Which really scares me because I can’t and I don’t want to imagine my life without him. Do you have any suggestions that would help me? Are these normal thoughts and feelings? I never thought I could feel this way about someone I care so deeply about. I have read through a lot of your articles and a lot has helped and calmed my nerves, but eventually those negative thoughts and feelings come back. :/

  • Newlymarried

    Beautiful 🙂

  • shatakshi

    Hi Sheryl!! I read one of your earliest posts where you spoke of your own fears regarding your partner, and how that time made you work on your inner self. I started with not exactly anxiety, but yes thoughts about whether I liked him enough or not, whether we are clicking or not. As much as he has his own flaws, I know he is a great guy. I could easily say I love u when the honeymoon period was present. And then slowly because of lot of our issues, my past which spoke to him about, his insecurities, our way of not really handling them, but pushing them under the rug, but we didnt know anyother way and I didnt want to bother him more. I went to being the person I was, in a different way though. Everything started turning upside down inside my head. A guy, a really gud friend, I did have some feelings for, or pure foolishness suddnely confessed feelings for me and I went into a spiral, checking my feelings fpr my boyfriend, questioning my head and checking which name it threw and freaking out when it wasnt what I expected. This train of thoughts would stop sometimes,I could handle them but I cant go forever thinking that with every breath my head is going to throw a wrong answer. When I am calm, i find anger and resentment towards him, which I would really bother about if he was a friend and fight even whether I was wrong. But with him I am just too careful for our own good.

    There is too much in my head. I dont even know what thought should I first start working on. I dont know where I wamt to be in life,i am not really doing anything and thinking O no!if i dp this we wont have enough time together and thus blocking my head unecessarily, whether should I start the ecourse and work on our relationship..I keep thinking that should somebody ask me is your boyfriend(broke up recently though) worth it, worth everything?and I wish I answer he sure is, but the I am scared all this is just in my head..its a conversation I have made up..But I wouldnt be here if I didnt know he loved me dearly and somewhere I wish I did too, no matter how small that part is.

    I just feel insignificant infront of his love and that has stopped me from having my own voice in the relationship.

    I know I am just looking for signs, some lighting and what not that will tell me that I love him and things are okay.

    Words of wisdom please!(:

  • Ani

    Your writing is always so comforting and soothing to hear. I find that other self-help resources only spike my anxiety because of how I perceive their help. I however am now dealing with anxiety on the purpose of life and it’s very debilitating. I love how you have written in your article about longing. I know I have to take responsibility of my own well-being but I can’t seem to have a stand ground to do so.
    Thank again for being a life line for so many that struggle.

  • Jane

    Love this one Sheryl, and came right at the right time, as usual 😉 Autumn/Winter and life transitions are afoot and this was a great reminder to keep at my practice with this. Thank you!

  • Pernilla

    Really love your blog! And i really struggle with anxiety and bad thoughts “you don’t love him!” “you need to leave him!” but the thing is that i really dont want that and those thoughts are so scary that i almost hate my self for thinking it! it all started after a fight we had (we almost never fight!) and i thought i was losing him but he was not even thinking of breaking up! we made up and 2 weeks after my anxiety came like a bomb! and i just cant handle it! what courses do you recommend?

  • Angela

    Sheryl, who ever invented love is blind is false most of the time. Even if your partner has red flags, I believe some things can be changed with love and support. We all have insecurities that stem back to childhood. Drugs, alcohol are the major influences into relationship break ups and what human being dosent deserve help??? I believe in looking at peoples positives rather than focusing on the negatives.

  • Grateful

    Thank you for this article…..I was in a deep whirlwind of mind thought, chatter, anxiety…so intense that I can only remember a couple or few occasions that could even be comparable.
    I was absolutely paralyzed with fear…and then your article came. And with it came breath again…to be able to give myself permission to not believe or heed to the fear of the voices…to be able to sit and look back at them with kindness and courage…it gave me clues on how i can surrender…and find the me/myself again. Through letting go, of fear and non-control, I gained trust, and warmth and …trust again.

    I Thank You.

  • bumblebee

    Dear Sheryl

    My fiance showed me the picture of beautiful woman and said she’s beautiful and felt desire for her , and he told me too about his old friend who he had crushed onto sent her invitation, I was wondering how come he wasted his time on those things not focus on our relationship, yess I’m jealous too, and I said to him if you still in searching mode , we can make a closure
    what should I do, I love him, but he had a thought that there’s someone out there who suited him
    Thnkyou

  • Hi Sheryl would you consider a red flag if back when I was young my now husband and I were so immature and stupid that we never really opened up for trust, we were never in a commited relationship we just went out and then feelings started to grow but we were both not ready to commit and he was kind of a flirt back then, you know the classic young guy who is flirty with other girls?
    Now years later after being in bad relationships we saw each other, started dating and then got married and he has shown me the best anyone ever has on what is like to be loved and respected, he listens and he is also there for me in every way, even in my loops.
    But the voices in my head spiked when I read about trust issues being a red flag, and I trust him but there is times that I think oh my god what if he cheats on me or what if he is like he was back in the past when he was young.
    and I have to admit that I do have trust issues in general myself. and back then when we were younger I did not trust him because everyone said he was bad, and he admits now that back then he just did not care about anything and thats why he stopped seeing me cause he did not want to hurt me even though he had feelings for me, he was not ready to be commited.
    I also have to admit I never also opned up back then to try and build anything. I was very immature too and never gain his trust. WE were both just immature.
    Do you think that is a red flag on us?
    WE have both the same interest, values, goals, and I respect him and so does he, is is funny, he listens when I get scared, he hears my doubts he works, he is sooo lovie we are just great for each other, is just that doubt that spiked me bad….. 🙁

    Thank you

  • Laura

    I’d been meaning to read this post for a while. finally today I did. It turned out to be very true to How I’m feeling today, these days. .I dint know how to tackle my thoughts. There are so many both from myself and from outside voices. ..boyfriend, friends, parents. And then there are the ideas of what I Think other people are thinking.!!! Today though I will try to name the thoughts and talk to them 😉 thanks for making me feel you were speaking to me 🙂

  • Irishcolleen

    Hi, loved this article. Does anyone know of a good therapist living in Ireland who works through relationship problems/fears in a similar way to Sherly. Unfortunately I’ve been to a therapist who created more fear for me and basically said if there is no excitement and I’m filled with confusion then I have to make up by mind very soon 🙁 Wan’t helpful!

  • Mich

    Hi Sheryl. One of your past blogs you wrote “After reading through my site, many people are left with the question: If I can grow love and cultivate attraction, can I make a relationship work with any good and loving partner with whom I share values and vision? My short answer is: no. Let me explain.” That really spiked my anxiety and now I can’t get what you said out my mind. I’ve had anxiety since I met my partner so I’ve never been able to know if I feel a connection or not. When my heart is open I do adore him and appreciate what I have. We have a very solid relationship built on trust and friendship. Now I keep thinking “what if I’m just trying to force it to work” like when you said no it can’t work with everyone. I’m freaking out a tad! 🙁

    • Kate

      Sheryl- Every article you produce on this website knows the inner workings of my mind. How did you become so wise? It is the kind of wisdom I wish I came by naturally. I feel as if I am constantly self-sabotaging myself when I come by good situations because they’re never “enough.” It’s as if my soul is not at peace. I recently got engaged to an amazing man (this is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in and I pushed for us to get engaged), and to my surprise I’m crippled with self-doubt because I don’t know if he is “the one.” I have shared my doubts with him, and he is very supportive about this. It kills me that I am feeling this way, but I’m more concerned because he deserves someone that believes he is “the one.” I have been praying for a sign, and I hope this eCourse is it.

      • Thank you, Kate. I understand your mind because I’ve listened very closely over the past fifteen years to thousands of clients and course members with the exact same mind! You’ll see all of this reflected in the course.

  • Stef

    Hi Sheryl,

    I am currently going through your break free course which is amazing I just say. Even in my highest anxiety your voice is calming and all the information is so important and useful! I’m loving it so far.

    I wanted to ask a question as I’m not sure if it’s relatable to the course content so I thought I’d ask here in this article about the voice in your head.

    I notice that my relationship anxiety in the way of that I might need to leave my partner and that constant feeling for being with someone where it feels right sometimes subsides if I get jealous of my partner with others.
    My partner is an elite boxer and often goes on trips away for tournaments and training camps and so on. I have notice that when she does it’s almost like I can’t be happy for her. I also notice this when she meets new people such as when she started her new job.
    It’s almost like all the anxiety I have and thoughts I have about leaving her just vanish and I turn into a big scary green with envy monster!
    This past weekend she went away for a trip for boxing that I joined her in half way through to go and watch some of her fights.
    While she was away she was excitedly explaining to me how the company had bought along a massage lady and after she had spoken to her they realised they were both into holistic healing ( my partner is very open and spiritual) she went and had a massage and the messeur also gave her a reading and an energy clearing
    My partner was very excited about it and told me all about it and she said after she told me she noticed a change in the tone of my voice and told me not to be worried because she knows I sometimes do.
    When I arrived where she was everything was fine but I did something stupid and read my partners messages to this lady. My partner is a very social and well liked person, she’s also very loving and had appreciation and fascination with people who can do amazing things so I already know that about her however it sometimes makes me uncomfortable.
    The messages were nothing that I wouldn’t have expected from my partner to say to another person she appreciated
    She told this lady she was grateful for her help and that she was a beautiful person and she should be very proud of her gifts and so on
    After we spent a few days tiger she had messaged her asking her if she was coming down for dinner with all the team and told her she hadn’t forgotten about her and couldn’t wait to see her again.
    I don’t really know if I feel that that is appropriate.
    I talked to my partner about it and she tried to understand me but also goes into her she’ll and says she can’t change herself and that’s just how she is and so on..

    I basically wondered why jealousy comes out and overrides all my other anxious thoughts about leaving her. It brings up other thoughts like I only want her when she’s making new friends or whatever
    I don’t want to be a jealous person and feel cautious every time my partner meets new people and I want to be able to trust her..

    I think this might have something to do with what happened when we were just seeing each other.
    My partner had dated a friend of mine and while she was with her she tried to stop herself from flirting with me but sometimes she did, nothing serious of course but it was still there.
    After they had broken up for a while my partner persued me but then we both felt bad and guilty for what we were doing and I think she got scared so she all of a sudden stopped. She was with other people in this time and was having fun I suppose after being in a trapped relationship. After a long while we eventually got together and were committed to only each other. In this time in longed that she would come back to me and would try to stop myself from being jealous of who she was flirting with at the time.
    So I suppose that maybe a lot of that pain is still surfacing I’m not really sure.. After our honeymoon phase I went crazy and was extremely jealous and insecure but then it turned into this anxiety about if this was right for me and if she was the one..
    It’s a very confusing place to be and I wondered if anyone can shed some light on this issue.

    Sorry for this long post

    Stef 🙂 x

  • Stef

    Hi Sheryl and everyone

    For anyone that might have read my post above I have a question.
    As I had said previously I have relationship anxiety for some time but there are occasions where my anxiety turns from I don’t want to be wth my partner into anxiety about my partner leaving me.
    I got jealous of a friendship she made with someone this past weekend and for that week it’s almost like the type of anxiety I was dealing with before vanished and I was only anxious about her leaving me or getting attention from someone else.
    We had a big fight and last night patched things up but I was scared we’d be at our end because this used to happen a lot and I think my partner has had enough and thought I was getting better.
    I noticed that as soon as we made up and we were okay I could feel the anxiety about if my partner is the one if I still even want to be with her coming back. It’s like a feeling washed over me that felt horrible again.
    It makes me wonder if I only really want to be with her when there’s a threat in my mind. Or because I can’t bare the thought of her being with someone else and that’s the only reason why I don’t leave..
    I don’t know.. I guess I wondered if after feeling that pain and worry about her potentially leaving me is the anxiety trying to protect me from feeling pain? Or maybe it’s to afraid to be close to her again after feeling like she wants attention from someone else..
    It’s very confusing I wondered if anyone else has felt this..

    Stef

    • Fear of losing self and fear of losing other are two sides of the same coin, and the two fears often vacillate between each other. The coin itself is called “worthiness”, which means at the core of each fear is a lack of waters in your well of Self. Keep pouring yourself into yourself through mindful actions like journaling and mediation (both of which I teach in the Break Free program), and the negative focus on your partner will diminish while the positive focus grows.

  • ANNELIZE

    Good day all,

    I want to buy the Relationship anxiety e-course but I want to type my story and get your advice from people who has worked through it.

    Since I was a child, my parents gave us everything they possibly could. My mother always says that she just wants us to have what she never did.In a way I think this has caused me to become spoiled. I have grown certain habits that has always become problems in my relationships. My parents are great people but it never felt like they were good role models for me as to how a relationship should be like. My father is 18 years older than my mother but they got married when she was 18. she is 52 now and my dad 69. I remember they were always irritated with each other. My mother was always very rude to my dad. One time while they were fighting (i was 6 and my sis 5) she wanted to commit suicide but didn’t (in front of us). So I would say they were verbally very abusive to each other.
    As I grew up I always liked guys who didn’t like me. There weren’t ever any certainty that they wanted to date me. I think I enjoyed the chase. I am 29 years of age at this stage. My first boyfriend came into my life when I was 17. We used to fight about nonsense a lot and I remember I was always irritated with him even though he was a great guy. I was never happy. Then we broke up after 3 years and I couldn’t stand to be alone so I started dating someone 5 years my senior. this was a VERBALLY abusive relationship. and it went on for three years as well. I always blamed him but I know now that I wasn’t always easy to get along with. then I was single for 5 years. During this time I liked guys who didn’t like me or the one who did like me, cheated on me all the time with another girl. Once again this wasn’t healthy relationships. At the end of 2012 there was a guy that I knew from holidays at our beach house.We started talking and at the end of 2013 we started spending a lot of time together. I remember telling my sister that he is everything i want in a guy and a partner.

    In Feb 2014 I started with my MBA and we started dating. Ever since April last year I have been struggling with anxiety. I really have the perfect person in my life but I keep on telling and asking myself questions like I DON’T THINK WE FIT, DO WE FIT?, I keep on finding issues, I am thinking but our relationship isn’t that exciting so maybe we shouldn’t be together, or I don’t feel as happy so maybe he doesn’t make me happy. This is only some of the things that I keep on thinking. I do not want to lose him but I keep telling myself that if I was happy in my relationship I wouldn’t have these thoughts. I do not want to lose him. I have been going to therapists, to psychiatrists and been on antidepressants. I do not want to loose my perfect guy but I cant switch off these thoughts. Please can someone give me advice or help me how I can become happy for the first time in a relationship. It feels to me like God has sent him to me because he is EXTREMELY patient and rational. He has been standing by my side but I want to enjoy a happy life. I have never felt like I have ever been 200% happy in a relationship. my one lecturer told me that I am extremely hard on myself and asked me where I get all these high relationship standards from. I really am struggling to be content because of all the perceptions i have in my head.

    please help 🙁

    Annelize

  • ANNELIZE

    Please if someone can respond? I would like to purchase the course if it would be helpful and benefit me. I would like some advice as it is rather expensive to buy without your advice 🙂

    • I’ve already responded to you via email and my response is the same here: the course would be ideal for you. I assure you that you will get your money’s worth, and will give you more than you’ve received from the psychiatrists and therapists.

    • ANNELIZE

      My apologies I haven’t received the mail. I am going to make the payment now. HOw does it work after I have made the payment? Sorry I do not want to be an irritation

  • Madeline

    Hi Sheryl! I really loved this article. I purchased your break free from relationship anxiety course, and I am making progress. I still do have those voices in my head telling me this work isn’t for me, maybe I just don’t love my boyfriend, and especially that I am to young for this. I am almost 18 and have been dating my boyfriend for a year. There is just something about him that makes me stay. I’ve also always had a need for certainty, so I worry I just stick with him because I want to be certain of my future. I’ve always been known for being mature, but it’s hard to have faith in young love when society thinks you don’t know what it is. Please help me know what I should listen to and do!

    • Keep working through the course! All of your questions will be answered there. And then it takes TIME and PATIENCE and a real commitment to turn inward and learn to attend lovingly to your inner realms so that you can address the root causes of your anxiety and intrusive thoughts.