Answering this One Question Could Free You From Anxiety

by | Feb 28, 2021 | Anxiety | 43 comments

The anxious mind fundamentally asks one question: “Is it enough?” Are my hands clean enough? asks the hand washer. Do I love my partner enough? asks the person who is struggling with relationship anxiety. Did they do enough testing? asks the health anxiety sufferer.

The presumption here is: “If it’s enough, then I will be safe. If I washed enough, I will prevent germs. If I love my partner enough, I will avoid making a mistake, which means loss. If they did enough testing, it means I’m healthy and, therefore, safe.”

For the anxious mind, the ultimate equation is: Enough = Safe. Enough = Complete. Enough = Just right.

So we chase after an ephemeral enoughness that may exist for fleeting moments in the human realm but is ultimately transitory. What we’re deeply longing for is the fullness and completeness that arise when we’re in direct contact and connection with something bigger than ourselves. This is the true safety. This is why, fundamentally, anxiety and what we call OCD are spiritual invitations, the soul’s longing for itself and connection with something bigger than itself. That is the definition of spirituality.

For modern humans, it isn’t enough, for we are devoid of the rituals, practices, and meaningful community gatherings that nourish the soul and speak its language. We feel enough when we are filled up from the inside out and the outside in: through deep connection with ourselves and regular communion with others.

There are some people – the highly sensitives and empaths – who are painfully aware of the liminality of our existence from an early age, and it often shows up as a fear of change, separation, and death. For these very special human beings, the only way to gain a foothold into the ever-changing sea of our lives is to attach onto the hooks of intrusive thoughts and/or enact rituals of compulsions.

Of course, these are misguided attempts to find certainty and anchoring, but we cannot expect individuals, especially children, to be able to name the true need embedded inside obsessions and compulsions. We, as adults, can hardly name the need, so severed are we from the needs and language of the soul. And so we suffer as children and then as parents we watch helplessly as our children find themselves in a maelstrom of anxiety.

I used to think that if we raised our children with emotional intelligence, tending to their emotional lives closely and sending the message that we welcome the full expression of their feelings, that would be enough to help them feel anchored and tethered. But I now know that it is not enough. We need nourishing and safe community. We need rituals to guide us across the thresholds of grief and transitions. We need stories and mythology to help us make sense of our human lives, of which loss and death are an intrinsic part.

But how? The need and task is too vast for us as individuals. There is a massive systemic flaw in the way we’re living, and we all know this. But what I can share is that the more we commit to the regular practices that fill our well of Self and connect us to something bigger than ourselves, the more we learn how to fill in the gaps and come closer to a sense of abiding completeness. Then, if you’re a parent, you can, as my wise friend Carrie says, become the bridge our children can walk over to get there themselves.

So when your anxious mind asks, “Is it enough” about whatever form anxiety is showing up for you, you can respond to the question within the question, the question that is coming from the soul instead of from the anxious mind that needs certainty. You can ask, “Where is it not enough? What rituals might I need to incorporate into my life so that I can forgive myself for my humanness?”

In France, OCD is called the Doubting Disease. I much prefer this way of referring to this particular presentation of anxiety because it speaks directly to the heart of what the anxiety is about: the brain’s habit of doubting as a way to mitigate the risk of living and loving, which means the risk of loss, getting hurt, and death. The anxious brain believes that if it scans the horizon – that if it checks enough – it can circumvent loss. But we know that there isn’t enough checking in the world to mitigate risk and to offer a 100% money-back guarantee of certainty.

And so we’re left with what’s embedded inside the doubt, which is an invitation to grow our capacity to trust. Just as love and fear are cousins in the pocket of the heart, so doubt and trust are sisters in the soul. This means that when we walk through fear’s door we expand our capacity to love, and when we walk through doubt’s door we expand our capacity to trust.

From what I can see, our ability to trust comes partially from our relationship to Self, but it is also derived from our relationship to something greater than ourselves. For it’s in the spiritual realm that we feel most consistently held, nourished, guided, and loved. It’s when we see through a spiritual lens that we have a direct experience of our enoughness and know that we are intrinsically worthy of love and belonging.

I recently came across a beautiful passage in one of my favorite books, The Oracle of Kabbalah, in which author Richard Seidman shares the Kabbalistic understanding of each letter in Hebrew alphabet. For the letter Shin he writes

Shin initiates the profound word shalom. Shalom, which is one of the names for God, conveys a host of meanings, including peace, wholeness, fullness, completion, soundness, safety, health, intactness, integrity, perfection.

“Another name for God, Shaddai, begins with Shin. Shaddai comes from the Hebrew roots, shad, breast, and dai, enough. The milk from the breasts of their sheep and goats was the very sustenance of life for the nomadic Hebrews. Shaddai, as a name for God, therefore represents ancient, primal, life-giving feminine force. God is the nurturing source whose “enoughness” pervades and feeds all of life.”

Isn’t this what everyone who is prone to anxiety is searching for? Isn’t this, perhaps, what all humans are searching for? The question then becomes: How do you feel shalom? What are the ways that you feel Shaddai? Of course, this is the language of Jewish spirituality, which speaks deeply to my soul. Everyone must find their own language of the spirit, the robes that cloak you in that place of enough, fullness, completion, safety, goodness, the pathways that help you answer the question: What makes me feel nourished, fulfilled, alive, whole? 

As you ponder this question, I invite you to consider the following ways that many people experience a sense of completeness and nourishment:

  • When your mind is lit up from learning
  • Connecting to close friends
  • Deep, belly laughter
  • Gratitude
  • Listening to music that touches your soul
  • Meaningful rituals
  • Connecting to your ancestral lineage through stories, recipes, holidays, music
  • Being in reciprocal relationship with nature (to understand what I mean by that please read this post and please, please read the book Braiding Sweetgrass)
  • Dance
  • Beauty
  • Being of service
  • Good sleep
  • Movement

This is the spiritual invitation embedded inside of anxiety. This is the right question to ask. From what I understand, there are no quick answers, as it’s a lifelong journey to come into deeper reciprocal relationship with source (divine, God, spirit, nature). But when we dwell in the correct question instead of chasing after anxiety’s presentation, we fill in the gaps of disconnection and step onto the paths that lead to fullness and completeness: the paths of forgiveness and self-compassion where you know that you are enough, you are whole, you belong, you’re safe, and you are loved exactly as you are.

***

Note: I very much value your comments as they pertain to each post and I love hearing about your insights and breakthroughs. However, if you’re struggling with relationship anxiety, I know it’s tempting to ask for reassurance or guidance, but unfortunately, I’m not able to offer advice in this format. I encourage you to read through this Collection, consider the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course, and, as always, work with a skilled and loving therapist who can be a guide and witness for your healing. If you’re struggling with other anxiety themes, please see my book, The Wisdom of Anxiety, and read through my hundreds of free blog posts on a variety of topics. 

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43 Comments

  1. Thank you that was a beautiful enlightening article.

    Reply
      • Sheryl, I love your blog and your book, The Wisdom of Anxiety. I do get triggered though when you speak of the roots of anxiety and your inner child not feeling safe and secure. Does this mean that those who suffer from anxiety have an insecure attachment style? This is, admittedly, my anxiety’s focal point and something I fear the most. I found your material initially because I struggled with relationship anxiety 5 years ago during a very tumultuous time in my life, however, I now struggle with anxiety about my child’s well-being (specifically mental well-being). When I read your material, it sounds like you’re suggesting that those who struggle with anxiety have an insecure attachment style. Is it possible that some are, in fact, “secure” and still struggle with anxiety? I need some clarification because my anxiety is causing me to interpret your writings in a certain light. Many thanks.

        Reply
    • ♥️🔝

      Reply
  2. Thank you, Sheryl! I resonate a lot with the “enough” question. And I love the alternative, “what makes me feel alive?”

    Reply
    • I’m so glad the alternative question is helpful :).

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  3. Gorgeous as always, Sheryl. Reading your blog is like coming home.
    I was thinking as I read this about how, sometimes when I am feeling “off” or in a spiral, I will go to my practices, but I don’t always find my way back to myself until something happens externally, something that reminds me who I am or clicks me back into place. I’ve been framing this as a problem, another way I’m not there yet, not doing it well enough. Can’t do it on my own. But reading this tonight, I thought, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We’re meant to be in community, to be held, to be part of something larger. So if sometimes it’s the something larger that reminds me of that, that’s a beautiful thing.

    Reply
    • “So if sometimes it’s the something larger that reminds me of that, that’s a beautiful thing.”

      YES, Katie. We’re not meant to find our way alone.

      Reply
    • Wow, Katie! Amen to EVERY word you said in that comment. You put it better than I could. But your conclusion I hadn’t reached until I read your comment, so I thank you!

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    • Yes to this, Katie! I often experience the same thing. When I cannot do anything for myself I sometimes just “give up” and wait for something or someone to come help me. It’s like praying for a miracle, cause I don’t know what to do anymore!

      Reply
  4. Hi Sheryl, I’m sp intrigued by what you’re saying about the “massive systemic flaw” in the way we live right now. Of course I understand what you mean and it does offer me some kind of relief to know it’s not “just me / jus my problem”. But I also think about what Byron Katie would say. She would ask: there is a massive systemic flaw, is it true? I have been so interested in this way of thinking lately, of completely accepting reality, the way it is. This means dropping the illusion (including the frustration that come with it) that it will be “better”. Because everything is right as it is, just because it is. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this way of thinking!

    Reply
    • Dear Emma,

      I’m curious what Sheryl will say about Byron Katie’s work, but I would really caution you against it. It is a very simplistic form of cognitive behavioral therapy (and I fell for it for months!!), which does work on false beliefs but unfortunately is applied by BK to everything, which leads to what is called “cognitive distortions”. It is very damaging especially for people who have suffered from abuse and trauma.
      There are tons of articles about this online (type Byron Katie criticism). I just wish there was more awareness around her work because it can be harmful.

      Love from another Emma 💕

      Reply
  5. I lost my brother last month. I was raised by an American mother, abandoned by my Egyptian father at age 10. My brother, at age 8, had a difficult time and it led him astray. As I try to seek Allah’s (God’s) warmth throughout this time, I am alone because my father is in Egypt and unable to perform these rituals with me. Last Friday I went to the mosque. Let’s just say I felt peace,but after speaking to one of the congregants, less so. But the ritual of prayer felt healing. I needed to do this ritualistic motion. It felt right.

    I don’t know Arabic so well but God has 99 names. As-Salaam is one of them and it means Peace, identical to Shalom. I didn’t know Jews had multiple names for God.

    And I have OCD, and a nurse in this pandemic. It’s been a rough year. Thank you for your insightful post. Who knew everything is so interconnected?

    Reply
    • Samara: I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother and for the pain you’re suffering. Yes, it always strikes me that Salaam and Shalom are so similar, and speaks to the fact that at the core all religions offer the same teachings in different language and with different rituals. I’m so glad you found some peace by going to the mosque. Sending you much love.

      Reply
    • Does anyone notice when they try to move forward spiritually that their anxiety can get a bit worse? Its like, don’t go there, there are dark sinister answers in there that you really don’t want to know, and you’ll definitely decide that your anxiety thoughts are true, despite them being completely illogical haha. Logically, I’m inclined to think it’s a misguided protective response of some kind. But my anxiety would have me believe it’s far more sinister. Does anyone know what I mean, or is it just me?

      Reply
  6. Dearest Sheryl, you do so much for so many and I just wanted to acknowledge that and send you my best hopes that you are well too. This past month or so has felt particularly liminal. Your work is guiding me through, as ever, and I so appreciate these gifts you share with us.
    My places of belonging are a funny combination of grand and humble: my sofa (with a blanket and a book!), my shower, my bed, my yoga mat, the canal outside my balcony (any body of water really!), the mountains, my dreams (even though mine have been frightening recently), dancing and singing amongst the words and music of my favourite songs, laughing with my friends, being in the arms of the man I love. I really do have so much to be grateful for.
    Sending all my love x

    Reply
    • This is so good:

      “And so we’re left with what’s embedded inside the doubt, which is an invitation to grow our capacity to trust. Just as love and fear are cousins in the pocket of the heart, so doubt and trust are sisters in the soul. This means that when we walk through fear’s door we expand our capacity to love, and when we walk through doubt’s door we expand our capacity to trust.

      From what I can see, our ability to trust comes partially from our relationship to Self, but it is also derived from our relationship to something greater than ourselves. For it’s in the spiritual realm that we feel most consistently held, nourished, guided, and loved. It’s when we see through a spiritual lens that we have a direct experience of our enoughness and know that we are intrinsically worthy of love and belonging.”

      Thank you for what you wrote. It spoke to my Soul this morning.

      💗🙏

      Reply
    • This is so beautiful to read, Elizabeth, and brings a big smile. I love this:

      “My places of belonging are a funny combination of grand and humble.”

      Yes! I think perhaps it’s that way for most of us. Thank you so much for sharing here.

      Reply
  7. Wonderful and insightful, as always. Thank you for articulating how strongly the concept of ‘enoughness’ plays a role in my anxiety, as it evidently does for others too.

    You mention France. My understanding is that there is also some very interesting work going on in Italy, where they seem to take a much more eclectic approach than our merely ‘symptom busting’ paradigm.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately there is not much happening in Italy regarding OCD. Most therapists are at preliminary phases of updates when it comes to the topic. I tried to find someone who was going a bit beyond the mere ERP approach (which is already hard to find), and I was very disappointed in discovering there was nothing available.

      Luckily there is so much info we can find online 🙂

      Reply
      • Check out the work of Francesco Bisagni

        Reply
      • also Alessandra Cavalli and Suzanne Maiello 🙂

        Reply
  8. Hi Sheryl,
    I’m on my path to healing but I stumble often across the same triggers over and over. I live abroad and after many months I recently managed to visit my homecountry and family again. The sun shines all year long there and the place its filled with colors, memories, flora that cause me so much pain. In short, I compare all this that I left behind many years ago, with my current country (NL) where I live with my bf. There everything is different, I enjoy my life there but as soon as I feel this pain in my chest, this melancholy for what I left behind I can’t stop comparing and thinking that I made the wrong choice. Needless to say that it started with my relationship anxiety and from there it went to my life choices. (hence living where I live now). What was an healthy doubt about ‘maybe one day I’ll come back’, became a ‘ I can’t stand the pain of being away from all the beauty of my home country, plus I’m afraid the reason I stay away is a partner I’m not sure I love’. You see…it’s all connected in a gigantic spiral. I try to broaden my perspective of ‘right’ place and remind myself that I can always come back, just not yet and not because of this anxiety in my throat in my head.

    What other practices can I apply? it’s like having a big flow of emotions which I don’t know where to place. I picked some beautiful lemons yesterday with my father, among the olive trees.. and those moments cut through me like knifes of doubts, why would I leave all these sweet moments? and why does this connection with my homeplace feel stronger than ever now that I doubt?

    J.

    Reply
    • Hi Julia,

      Your comment really resonated with me, though in reverse! When I am “home,” things seem gray, I doubt my relationship, I have a tough time connecting or finding joy and light in the place. But when I’m living abroad, I feel on fire – relaxed, confident, ready to connect, purposeful, etc. I also start to wonder if maybe “home” isn’t the place for me, particularly because the widespread values of my home culture (materialism, individualism, man before nature, etc.) don’t align with mine.

      I hope you can tune into your higher self and figure out what is “enough,” and which life you want to pursue. There will be a mix of sorrows, growth, love, light, and more, no matter which path we choose, but I do think deep down maybe there is a path that speaks more to our souls than another.

      Wishing you feelings of completeness, strength, love, connection, and joy!
      -Lauren

      Reply
      • Hi Lauren,
        I understand you so deeply. I read my own comment an yours again and again and I saw it: we are placing our aliveness and reason to be outside of ourselves. You sua you feel ‘better’ abroad and I feel ‘better’ back home. But those are only small moments, detached from our every day life and every day self. We are giving projecting ourself into an external idea and situation. I think, we need to take responsability of our aliveness, by grieving the many lives that are outside of our destiny. Meet the many selves we envision outside, exactly where we are.

        Maybe travel a bit more, or go home a bit more when we feel we need to recharge.

        Does it resonate?

        Reply
        • Lauren and Julia, I came across your comments a few days ago and have been mulling them since. I feel I could write a book on my journey along these lines and you are definitely headed in the right direction- as you say Julia, the awareness that you are projecting yourself onto an external idea and situation. No matter where you end up geographically, you have to take ownership of your own journey and aliveness, and that is a LOT of work and exploring.

          My ROCD/relationship anxiety began when I got engaged and I’ve journeyed with it ever since. In 2007, my husband and 3 small children and I moved from the US to Australia for a 5 year contract (the only way I would agree to it was having a definitive end because I did not want to live so far from my family) Guess where we still are? Once we committed to staying for “good”, my spiral into deeper relationship anxiety with a layer of anxiety around the choice of staying was deep and painful and led me to serious depression. However, as I’ve grown through it (thankfully off the strongest meds now), there are a couple (ok, maybe a million, but I won’t share them all) things I’ve learned- it was really important for me to get in touch with what brought me joy and purpose on an internal level beyond my husband and kids and trips back to the US- that meant building a new work and girlfriend community (and online support) that gave me a broader sense of connection to my individual self (this was particularly important because my networks here were only throught my husband’s work and my relationships with others through my kids). I delved deeper into mindfulness and meditation to connect myself to where I “belonged” in a deeper context than just geography- exploring broader questions of our interconnectedness on a global level, my “smallness” in the context of history and time, my connection to God and prayer.

          I’ve read a lot of Sheryl’s work and connected to OCD groups that have continued to help me explore how I using my thinking/analyzing brain to control situations that have no definitive answer- like where we “should” live, or who we “should” marry, or how close we “should” live to our family. I have processed an enormous amount of grief for not raising my children in the society that was familiar to me and in which I had so many wonderful childhood memories (as you say Julia, “grieving the many lives that are outside our destiny”)

          Could I have chosen another path? Yes. But it still would have been filled with pain and grief and struggle because that’s just the way my brain wants to process things and it’s the human condition (if I know my brain well enough, if we had moved back to the US, I would have obsessed over whether we should have stayed in Australia!) I have done my very best to keep my family connected with yearly trips back to be with family and share with them our heritage and special places and I know that is hugely important to them and their sense of self.

          I will say that covid has brought an entirely new level of the process to light- it put into stark contrast the values that my husband and I have come to hold dear- a sense of collective reponsibility for one another and the value placed on family and leave time in Australia that have sadly become major points of divide and disconnect in the US. We were unable to make our yearly trips back for the first time in 14 years (and which we will not be able to do again until at least 2022), and that’s forced me to think outside the extended family/US box and really embrace what it means to live life in a fully present way right where I am, rather than always focusing/living for the next visit “home”.

          These are by no means definitive answers, but the reflections on a journey that I’ll always be making. Go gentle with yourselves.

          Reply
          • One other thought is that I’ve really come to understand recently is that the compulsion that I default to is “figuring out”- I have spend thousands of hours ruminating over what is or was the right thing to do in these contexts where I would have intrusive thoughts. For example, the intrusive thought “do I love him enough to marry/stay with him” was the thought. The rest was all just figuring out/ruminating and that’s what needed to stop and then I could drop into the more healing processes of exploring grief, a desire for control, a lack of internal exploration, clinging to external forms of all kinds (even very healthy external family structure), etc. I could have saved myself enormous amounts of suffering if I could have pinpointed the difference between the initial intrusive thought and then the rumination/figuring out that came afterwards. But maybe that’s part of the journey….

            Reply
            • Wow, Blessed, this is such a great message you sent me. You have no idea the stream of hope I’m feeling.. and all the way from Australia! It’s like if our minds were connected somehow. You managed to put in words thoughts and feelings that spiral around my mind covered in a heavy cloud of pain.
              I am doing a bit better today, and as I read your response I understand the core of what you are saying which I think is ’embrace uncertainty, trust your choice and work on yourself’. Plus, a considerable amount of acceptance regarding our own hyper sensitive personalities.
              And yes! so much of my pain would have been spared if I’d manage to pinpoint it inward instead of outward. This year has made me spike often because, as happens to you, we were forced to stay away from our families. At the same time I also noticed that I found a bit of relief in knowing that I couldn’t go because of an external reason. I guess this is still unprocessed grief and guilt playing a part in the situation.
              A good friend of mine (also from a wonderful ocd community) recently told me that I need to trust the life I am building with my partner and let go a of the romanticized idea of my own country (which sometimes I talk about as if it was an ex). Also, remembering the reason why I found myself abroad is important (to escape a narcissistic parent for instance) and building my own sense of worth! I lived in many countries before (4 in total) but I never had struggled so much with this trigger as my rocd started, which was also the start of my more settled life (transitions?).
              My mind will always find reasons until I accept my path and find beauty in it. There were times that a slight colder response from a friend here would send me to spiral about how cold are ppl around me and how easy it is to connect back home. It’s probably true, but not as dramatic as I make it, not as impossible to overcame as I imagine.
              How is your relationship with your partner going now? I did a lot of pure ERP and ACT in the past years, and it helped but now with sheryl I’m finding a whole new level of awareness which is so beneficial especially when in a long term relationship.
              Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this truth watering you gave me.
              This is one of my favorite parts of your message which I wrote down on my diary: ‘I delved deeper into mindfulness and meditation to connect myself to where I “belonged” in a deeper context than just geography- exploring broader questions of our interconnectedness on a global level, my “smallness” in the context of history and time, my connection to God and prayer.’ This is pure wisdom, and it’s something I understand on many levels cause I felt it as a river of joy in many moments of my past, most of them were not back home but ‘home’ as in the world.

              Grazie, dankjevel, gracias, merci, thank you.
              Julia

              Reply
  9. This was so so beautiful, Sheryl. I don’t know how you – after all these years – continue to convey just what my soul needs with these weekly posts. I think it’s been almost exactly 10 years since I found my way to your work, and I am just as inspired and centred your words and wisdom now as I was 10 years ago. Your writing is always so alive and fresh – it never grows stale – you always have a new, living way of exploring these age-old, thorny human problems. I love everything you write about parenting at the moment. It speaks straight to my experience, and helps me find my way back to the parent I want to be. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you, dear Clara. Your kind words of reflection warmed my heart and soul this morning. Could it really be 10 years since we first connected? Extraordinary! Sending you and your beautiful family so much love across many ponds.

      Reply
  10. Your posts always come in the perfect timing, Sheryl. Specially around the sense of a community having your back.

    I have been struggling for a couple of weeks now over a very silly mistake I did when I had been dating my boyfriend for a couple of months. A guy kissed me (I didn’t pull back) in a club bc I was very drunk (alcohol has never really been a good friend to me). I really couldn’t believe what just happened and called him straight away explaining the situation. He decided to thank me for being honest and I’ve put my 100% to let him in and see that I had no intentions of being with someone else or hurt him.

    We are such an honest and healthy couple, invested in growing and evolving together. (Notice I have suffered from relationship anxiety). But the thought of people judging me for what I did, or him for forgiving me is making me cry all the time and I feel like I’m not worthy of his love, even though we are so loving and caring for each other.

    I just feel very lost in my generation’s behavior around “mistakes” because I don’t think anyone (b&w thinking) would forgive that and makes me feel unworthy of love and also that I’m toxic and my boyfriend is making a mistake with me. Which I know is not true because of the foundations we are building and the commitment we have.

    I would just love to have a sense of belonging and someone understanding this.

    Is there any e-course I should invest in?

    Love,

    Ly

    Reply
    • Ly: You’re describing one of the core challenges of the anxious-sensitive soul, which is not feeling deserving of love. This stems directly from the theme of this post, which is feeling like you’re not enough and having a hard time connecting to the abundance of the world. As such, I recommend starting with Grace Through Uncertainty, then considering the Trust Yourself course.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your wise words, Sheryl. I purchased the Trust Yourself since I feel that I need to deal with some other things as well. But will have the other one in mind.

        I do have a hard time connecting with my sense of wholeness and the kind heart that characterizes me since I was young. I feel like I’ve made the most awful mistake with the person I care the most.

        I also don’t know how to support him when he gets the intrusive thought of me kissing that boy. We’ve been in therapy to deal with the unhealed feelings. I know in my heart he is a very sensitive man but he doesn’t make space for uncomfortable feelings. Any suggestions?

        Warmly,

        Ly

        Reply
  11. Hello, i’ve recently dug into my well of self and come to the knowing that my partner is not right for me. He gets too angry with his job (he is self employed) and is always just so irritable and mad about something regarding his work. He is soo good to me and never acts in anyway shape or form, but he is just always so frusterated and will vent to me about his day with such anger. He will cuss (which I do too when im frusterated so I can’t be hypocritcal about that…but im trying to get better about it and learn to have more patience with things and life because watching his tone of voice just really scares me. It’s not abusive in anyway but i just keep getting this deep deep fear that one day he will get so frusterated with me that the tone of voice would come out on me and he will hit me or something. Ive never been abused so idk where that fear comes from.

    We talked about it and he said he knows that he needs to handle his frustrations/ anger better but it just scares me so bad and something in me keeps telling me this isn’t right for me. And when I come to that place of knowing I feel peace and steadiness and this is what is says “hes too mean” Last night I was around him and he was just like “my employee did this and this and they are so effing stupid….” (granted he would NEVER speak to them like that…never has. But just that outburst of frustration scares me so bad and i just feel so small. I’m really not sure this is something I can just “get over.” Because im sensitive and have always been sensitive and I feel like i would need someone with a softer tone of voice or who wouldn’t sound that way when frusterated (which is multiple times a day because he is always working.) Also, he told me last night that he is trying to hire someone else to help him with his part of the company because he feels like he is about to have a heart attack or stroke from being so stressed out all of the time. Which I am proud of with that.

    Does anyone have anything to say about that? It’s like the only thing really in our relationship that I can’t stand that is definitely in that grey area. It just sucks to come to the reality of me leaving fully. But he will always run a business (thats what he feels he is meant to do) and I really dont know if those frustrations will ever go away.

    I think maybe I need to talk with him to see if there’s any compromise but im scared that if he isn’t right for me, that by talking with him about this, it’s just leading to the inevitable that im going to leave too.

    sheryl, any insight on what is healthy and normal frustration in a person and what is borderline not okay? Does it matter? Is it just finding what I am comfortable with and not comfortable with. Will I ever find someone who doesn’t get angry?

    thanks…

    Reply
  12. I found this post very comforting and relatable. So interesting how I happened to “stumble” upon it this morning! 🌹No coincidence I’m trusting, but a “divine message”.
    I am making great strides in managing my anxiety by doing some of the very practices you talk about, so as I read through this post I felt I truly could relate to the value of what you were saying. Understanding where our anxiety originates is crucial to overcoming it. Peace is definitely within reach!

    Gail

    Reply
  13. I would also put creating on that list. Whether your a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a stay at home cook… Whatever you can find that allows you to create, small or large is a wonderful way to gain nourishment, connection and purpose..

    Reply
  14. Hi Sheryl,
    I’ve been experiencing relationship anxiety for a year+ now. It started with intense anxiety which faded over time. Now, i have moments of intense anxiety but mostly i feel completely unbothered. I don’t feel in love and I have doubts but they don’t bother me much anymore. It’s like I don’t care. I also find that whenever people talk about relationships or I see relationship help tips or something I feel really resentful, drained and want nothing to do with them. I used to read these non – stop in hopes it would save my relationship. Now I feel like i can’t be bothered anymore. But I still think my partner is wonderful. Is this common in relationship anxiety (like a burnout) or is my relationship just done? I don’t want it to be done.

    Reply
    • Hello Lillie, I don’t think this is a description of burnout since it was your anxiety who spiked this thoughts. From my experience you have to take responsibility of what is happening to you, it’s hard to understand but no one has the answers and no one will sabe you from the messiness of being human.

      It’s so hard haha, it’s hard to take responsibility from your own feelings and understand that it has probably nothing to do with your relationship (and your wonderful partner I assume).

      I have struggled with that as well, is part of healing. Feeling nothing and numb, because anxiety starts to fade away, and you kinda want it back (it gave you purpose at some point in your life). I recommend you to watch Is It Normal To Feel Disconnected? By Awaken Into Love on Youtube.

      I hope this helps! And remember that being human is as hard as it is wonderful (if you learn how to not let your mind control you).

      Sending you a big hug Lillie 🤍

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