Anxiety Blocks Connection

IMG_3231On the heels of my post from two weeks ago, which was both comforting and spike-inducing for some of my readers and course members, I’m elaborating on the topic of connection, specifically this one line:

Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone.

What does this mean? It means that when you’re trapped in the sticky thought-forms of anxiety, you’re not going to feel connected to your partner. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your connection is at its core. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent a day, four months, or two years feeling deeply connected to each other. When anxiety takes hold, it rips all of that away from you in a single moment and steals the aliveness from your life. Anxiety, while often manifesting in the body, is a head state, and if you’re in your head you’re not present and if you’re not present you’re not going to be able to access the feeling of connection. Why? Because we don’t connect head-space to head-space. We connect heart-to-heart. That’s where the pool of love lives.

As a member shared on the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety/Conscious Weddings E-Course forum:

So I know I am not the only one who was spiked by Sheryl’s recent blog post on connection! But for me, this is the part that spiked me:

Here’s my definition: Connection is a sense of home and safety. It’s the person you long to be with when the world feels like it’s crumbling. It’s your safe base and your safe haven, the person to whom you have healthfully and securely attached even when your ego wants to pull you away and tell you otherwise. Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone, but we’re talking about the baseline place beyond fear, the place beyond anxiety.

Okay, this is how I also define connection, and this is how I felt with D for just over a wonderful year. But honestly, without exaggeration, as SOON as that first ‘what if I don’t love him?’ thought hit me and the anxiety took over my body, that sense of home, that safe haven, that connection dropped out of my body and it never came back. Even after working through so so much of my anxiety and thoughts, even after getting to a good place where I don’t worry about my relationship as much as I used to, 9 months later and that lovely connection hasn’t come back. Those loving feelings haven’t come back. In fact I spend 99% of my time feeling disconnected and detached from D, and it’s made worse of course by the fact we are long distance now. It’s not in a way which makes me want to leave, because I desperately want to work on it and get it back, because I KNOW I can feel this way with him, I know he does feel like home.

To which I responded:

Did you see my response to your comment on the blog? Please read it and let it sink in. Connection comes first and foremost from your own self. If you’re disconnected from yourself, you’re going to be disconnected from your partner. It’s the same with sexual aliveness: If you’re cut-off from your own aliveness, you’re going to be shut-down sexually with your partner. It’s your responsibility to light your own match and kindle your own fire. So what I hear in those who were spiked by my post is, on one layer, a refusal to take responsibility for their own aliveness and to do the work to help you reconnect to your own sense of Self. Ultimately, it’s about filling your well of Self. When the well is full, you will be connected internally which will then lead to connection with your partner. And if a sense of home was your baseline when your heart was open, then you know it lives in you when the channels are clear.

Now, what does it mean to take responsibility for your aliveness and not fall into the number one pitfall of relationship anxiety, which is believing the projection that says that your lack of connection or aliveness is because you’re with the wrong person? It means, first and foremost, recognizing that you’re in a projection! This is 90% of the work. The rest is practice.

Imagine that the stories you’re telling yourself (your projections) are suspended like orbs around your mind and heart. These orbs carry a tremendous gravitational pull urging you to direct your attention to them and regard their tales as truth. If you believe their stories, you will remain stuck in their thought-forms, as the stories themselves are designed to convince you to keep your partner at arms’ length so that you don’t take the risk of loving.

The stories are the gatekeepers. As long as the stories are in charge, there’s no access to the heart. That’s their entire mission: to keep your heart protected behind the barriers of thought-forms. And if there’s no access to the heart, you’re not going to feel connected to yourself or your partner.

The path to break free, then, is to work diligently with your thoughts and remember that your mind is trying to protect you from the realm of feeling: the uncertainty, the unknown, the grief, the vulnerability, and the risk of loss. What weakens the force of the gravitational pull of the stories is naming what’s happening over and over and over again. “I’m in my head” or “There’s an intrusive thought” or ” I’m telling myself a story”. When you pop the bubbles of the gatekeepers – the stories – you drop into your body and feel your feelings. Then you open. Then you can connect.

You’ve probably had an experience of this happening: You’re trapped in the bubbles of the stories and then, perhaps from doing inner work, perhaps in a therapy session, perhaps from working through the e-course, the bubble pops and you suddenly see clearly that the problem is not your partner. Once the bubble pops, you drop into your body and feel the feelings that have been barricaded inside the anxiety. You’ve thawed out and can now open to yourself and your partner. This can take months of practice to access the heart more regularly, but even one experience of naming your stories and dropping into your core self can serve as a baseline reminder of what you know to be true when anxiety isn’t in the way.

Remember this: The degree to which the stories are activated and pulsing is the degree to which you are afraid

to be here

in this body

in this moment

with all of the messy, uncomfortable feelings that are a part of being human.

The anxiety is unmanageable; the feelings are not. And the anxiety comes from attaching to the stories, which is another way of saying that when we’re attached to the stories we’re abdicating responsibility for our inner wellness and wholeness. This is our work in relationships, at work, in friendship, with family, and in life: to take full and passionate responsibility for ourselves, to look at our stuck points and ask for help in illuminating our blind spots so that we can shift from a habit of blame to a habit of vulnerability with a mindset of growth shining the way. This is, perhaps, the hardest and most important work we can do in the world, and it must begin with you.

67 comments to Anxiety Blocks Connection

  • Jennifer Kain

    Thank YOU Sheryl. One of the important articles I’ve read about relationship anxiety. You’re master at describing this. Thank you so much! It’s an ongoing journey for me–managing my own relationship anxiety. Hope to join one of yr Programs in the new year

  • Clara

    I love this. So much. Learning to take responsibility has been my true saviour. Thank you Sheryl.

  • anxiouslyengaged

    It’s so nice to get back to the basics and be reminded of this. This is at the heart of all this work. I liked that you defined anxiety for me again. I’ve been at this work for so long that I am finding that my anxiety is not showing up exactly as it used to which makes me question if it is actually anxiety.

    “Anxiety, while often manifesting in the body, is a head state, and if you’re in your head you’re not present and if you’re not present you’re not going to be able to access the feeling of connection.”

    Now I don’t panic as much from my anxiety, but just because I don’t panic and don’t have physical symptoms anymore, when I am in my head I am still in an anxious state. And that’s an important reminder. Thanks!

    • Yes, anxiety can shapeshift, but it usually has defining characteristics, like being in a head space. I’m so glad it was helpful!

      • agnes

        anxiouslyengaged – I relate to your comment so deeply. My relationship anxiety with my current partner has not been like the intense anxiety I have suffered with past, emotionally-unavailable, unsafe-feeling partners (sick feelings of dread and instability). The relationship-anxiety that lead me here was unrelenting rumination, tests and measurements about how loving/attracted/connected I felt. All along I sensed that I was somehow blocking myself and my god, how eternally thankful I am that I hung on in there for this wonderful man.

        So, Sheryl, are you saying that anxiety does not have to be a physical sensation, but a stuck-in-the-head state? I often don’t ‘feel’ anxious (though I am currently quite on edge), but I do have very negative thoughts and rarely meet expectations of feeling (I never seem to feel the right thing/right intensity at the right time).

  • Jeannie Hitchcock

    What a truly inspiring post. I have been dealing with relationship anxiety for many years. My wonderful husband and I have been together for 7 years and when doubts and what ifs pop up, I’ve always suppressed them and distracted myself from them. The past few weeks they have been bubbling over and I have entered into something so dark I wanted to run. Not even from husband necessarily but from my thoughts and my fears, but of course the thought of leaving threw me further into the darkness of my thoughts as I felt like I would be giving in. Reading your posts and following the break free course, over and over you would say to turn inward and for weeks I’ve been desperately trying to do so. Asking myself what do I need to learn! I drew a map of events in my life and behaviors that were learned because of them which pointed to concrete answers why I am “protecting” myself. But that revelation wasn’t enough. Finally, today it dawned on me. My thoughts are telling me that I am not connected with myself. I have never had an outlet, I have never had a hobby for my own. I’ve always felt the need to spend every minute with my husband and if I didn’t I would feel guilty. I’m going to begin a journey of finding my own passion, may it be kick boxing or yoga, who knows! But when I discovered that, my negative thoughts fell away, and I found my husband in my heart again where he was waiting all along. I’ve been reading your posts for years and listening to your message, but it wasn’t until I was at my lowest that I could finally hear you. My work is not done, but I know that when I am well, I will look back and be so thankful I never gave up.

    • Wow! It’s often when we’re at our lowest that the defenses fall away enough so that we can hear the message we need to hear in order to move in a direction of healing. May you find what brings you joy and fills your well!

  • Ignacio

    Great article! Very clear, Sheryl, but I have to ask you one thing after reading this. Lately I’ve been struggling with a little relapse on the intrusive thoughts about my partner. I know that it’s normal and it’s part of the cycle of healing but sometimes I feel that still I don’t have a “good and strong strategy” to beat that.
    Should I just accept my thoughts and the feelings about that thought and do nothing like seeking for reassurance or enter into the eternal train of thinking OR should I do things like name the thought, answer with the truth (“I love my partner, it’s just anxiety and fear, they are trying to protect me”) and then search what I’m feeling afraid of (and stop projecting that into my relationship). The first it’s a more passive way, while the other it’s more active in some way. Which is the best and more effective way to act?

    Thank you!

    • Both paths are helpful at different times. Sometimes we need to simply acknowledge the thought and move on and other times we need to acknowledge and ask, “What is this thought protecting me from feeling?” Either way, we NEVER indulge the thought itself by believing it or seeking reassurance in any way (talking about it, Googling it, writing about the thought itself). Any energy you give the actual thought will fuel the fire.

      • Ignacio

        Thank you, Sheryl! Everyday I’m a little more intelligent and wise with my thoughts and my reactions. It’s a long long way but it’s worth it.

  • Lacey

    Hello sheryl

    I have a question for you that I think lots of women (and men) can relate too. I fear that if I work on filling my well, like feeling more beautiful, and making more money, and just doing the things that make me happy, may raise my expectations on my partner. Now I know this is ego talking, but how do you satisfy the well of self, which can lead to ego boost, and not let ego get in the way of love? I am having a hard time following my dreams because I have fear of potentially making more money. Now in our relationship, he always made me feel like I was too good for him by his actions, like smothering me, and being too excited to see me (more than normal). My core loves him, but I want to be happy in the marriage too. I am doing good now, because he is amazing, but I fear that boosting my ego, by filling my well will increase my expectations. Any advice?

    Thanks Sheryl ?

  • Eleonora

    Thank you, Sheryl for writing so clearly about this. I am starting to realize how much time I spend in my head and in my stories. I have started to realize that there is another realm of living – in feelings, emotions – that I have almost been blind to. Your wise words are really helpful on the way. Best,

  • Angela

    Sheryl, This blog does make sense, and we are in our heads most of the time, we were conditioned from this culture. Do you remember an old movie called BRAVE HEART the actors are christian slater and marisa tomei. I remember one particular line that marisa tomei said to christian slater, YOU DONT FEEL WITH YOUR HEART, you feel with your mind. I believed it and i have taken it with me. Thats not true at all, am i right Sheryl??

    • Perhaps they meant that we feel with our big mind, which is that same as our heart…? I would have to see it in the context of the film, but we absolutely do feel with our hearts. In fact, there’s a lot of research now that shows that we have a brain of sorts in our hearts, and that it’s this “brain” that needs are attention in order to develop balance and emotional health.

  • Worrier96

    Eek, I’m excited that you used my forum post! This resonates so much with me right now, its perfectly timed! I’ve been on the yo yo of anxiety this weekend but seem to have yo yo’d back to a good place where I feel connected! Since your response to me, I have been making an effort to practice mindfulness everyday, just to sot and be with self. I’ve also been making gratitude lists ever day too which slowly opens the heart! Currently I’m feeling open hearted and connected for the for time in monthes. Thank you Sheryl!

  • Just me

    I am in the path of healing. I had terrible physical sympthoms for years which are almost gone. It was so easy to blame our relationship for all of that. And my constand divorce dreams were also a sign at that time that I was on the wrong path. Now we have improved our relationship and communication and those divorce dreams have stopped. Maybe they were more a sign that we should pay more attention to our connection instead of leaving relationship. Thank you Sheryl again!!

    • Thank you, Just me. For anyone struggling with relationship anxiety and feeling hopeless, I encourage you to find and read through Just Me’s comments on my blog. She’s also on the Break Free forum, and you can chart her intense struggle and breakthroughs there. I hope that’s okay to say, Just me! Like so many course members, you have followed a trajectory of complete hopelessness and despair to true growth and healing and it’s very inspiring ;).

  • elle elle

    May I ask a question of you and others? these two articles and all of your blog have been a lifesaver. I have finally hit the root of my relationship anxiety and see a path forward for healing myself. However, my boyfriend of 16 months hit a wall of anxiety and initiated a break between us just 8 days after expressing a deepening commitment. I was devastated. This was all triggered he says by the the election and our political differences. Ironically his anxiety peaked just as I became self aware, and realized that I really do love him in spite of our differences. (he didnt know this)

    Now a month later he is interested in resuming our connection. Needless to say I am confused and Anxious! When one or both partners are triggered into an anxiety explosion, how do we discern if it is appropriate to return to the relationship and grow more connection? I miss him very much, and would like to build on the good, but my trust is broken again. Have any of you gone through break ups and successfully built a secure relationship? Is there a way to help me get clear on who to handle this? Thank you!!

  • LightAtTheEnd

    The scariest thing for me, is that I can feel chemistry, lust and ‘connection’ with other men! I know deep down its all a fantasy…and the classic grass is greener syndrome…but when the ego is looking for evidence…it finds it right there, that I would be happy with a different man. My deep sense of knowing that the problem lies ‘within me’ is there however louder, (although muffled and fading at times!) and staying by the man who keeps me safe, keeps me strong when I times I feel so weak is there. I know I’m not alone here. We all need to dig deep within US and build the tools to beat the anxiety and wish to run away, thinking that the honey is with another bee….x

    • If you’re experiencing lust and chemistry with other men then you have a big piece of work to do, which is to seal up yourself and create a watertight seal around your marriage:

      You’re not doing yourself any favors by opening those channels that allow you to feel chemistry with other men. In fact, by doing this, you’re creating a huge obstacle to your healing as you’re reinforcing a belief that you would have more chemistry with someone else. A big aspect of this work, in a nutshell, is to find that “chemistry” with yourself, and then bring it to your loving, wonderful partner (and I say that to you specifically because I happen to know without a doubt that you have an incredibly loving, honest, warm, attentive partner who loves you to the moon and the stars and back again!).

      • Elizabeth

        Hi Sheryl,

        Isnt it natural to experience attraction to other people when in a relationship? What do you mean by creating a water tight seal? It sounds very restrictive. I usually just accept that there will be attraction with others and then try to think and act based on my higher self. When ever I try to seal myself up I just end up perpetuating feelings of guilt and fear and get very upset. Any reflections on this?

        • Elizabeth

          This is a huge point of anxiety for me. I would never actually do anything with another man outside of my relationship though!

          • Elizabeth

            I just read the water tight marriage piece. I do understand what you mean about the ‘look’. But for me its deeper than that. I am scared of being attracted to others. I get scared when I can tell a man finds me attractive because I feel like my loyalty is being thrown into jeopardy. This makes me hyper aware of attraction and interactions with the opposite sex. Its not about flirting for me. Its about feeling intimidated by the sexual vibrancy of men other than my partner and afraid of that dark side of me that wants to fall into temptation. PS would never cheat, this is all very internal

        • There’s nothing you can do about a man finding you attractive. What I mean by a watertight seal is what you do with that moment: do you engage with the man? Do you flirt? Do you bring that energy back into your marriage? None of these things are wrong, and many therapists would encourage you to flow with the human energies of attraction. I have a different view on it. I encourage people to reserve the flirtatious energy for their partner only and to ignore others in the world who give you that energy. Again, there’s no right or wrong way. It’s about learning about what works for you and your partner.

          But what I hear you describing is your lack of self-trust. You don’t trust that you can experience a moment of vibrancy and not act on it. As you work on yourself and become stronger inside, you will be able to trust yourself and know that you have a choice regarding how you act. This article speaks to this point:

          • Elizabeth

            Thank you so much for your response Sheryl! You are so spot on about my lack of self trust and thank you for pointing it out because I often forget. I also agree about the no flirting. Sometimes the person may be a lovely person and also good looking and I have to communicate with them at work (Wow so much physical feelings of anxiety here), so I just try to be friendly and send out the I am taken message! Again, as you said once I develop greater inner strength it will be easier to draw that inner boundary.

            Here is a funny story for everyone on this topic:

            When I was 12 I asked my Mum “whats happens if your friend who is a man is really nice and handsome and you get along really well Mum? Like you and X (neighbour and colleague)! He’s so cool and handsome and you guys get along so well! What do you think?” POOR MUM! And she said “well sometimes it happens in life but I chose Daddy and we love each other very much and that’s it (big smile and hug)”. Her response completely settled my wandering curious mind. Love my Mum <3

  • NewMarried

    Hi Sheryl. Thank you so much for this post. My weekend has been an anxious nightmare with the intrusive thought of “what if my husband and I divorce” or “what if I went against God’s will marrying him”. I’ve been following your blog and it’s been helping me with those thoughts and feelings somewhat, but what I think I really need to do is one of the e-courses. Variations of the same “what if” questions plagued me throughout engagement, and then started creeping back into my life a couple months after the wedding. I am trying to be open with my husband about my anxiety while also assuring him that’s what’s going on, and not real doubts about our relationship. This post helped me recognize (again) that really the root of my anxiety is a fear of losing my husband, my best friend, the person I feel most comfortable and at home with.

    • I hope you give yourself the gift of the Break Free course, especially since the Gratitude Week sale is running until next Monday (coupon code: Gratitude2016). The blog helps many people find their feet again but it’s the course that drives the information home.

  • Isabelle

    Hi Sheryl, these posts are really wonderful. I completed your conscious weddings e-course and have been married for a few months. Throughout this time, the anxiety has waxed and wained, but I’m noticing that I’m still very much stuck in the “stories”. Even, as I write that, I have the thought that “no they aren’t stories! they’re real problems!” … So it is difficult at times to see them for what they are. My “stories” tend to revolve around anything that my partner does that I don’t approve of, often things that get crazy magnified (like taking a U turn where you’re not suppose to) or other issues that I think we’ll be finding a balance around for years to come (he likes to go out and party more than I do). I suppose my issue is that I have these judgements (that I use to not have by the way, they are somewhat new and way more critical these days), and then I worry that the fact that I have these judgements means that something is deeply wrong and that we’ll never get past them. The topics change from week to week so I do see it as my anxiety attaching onto whatever it can find – but I have difficulty figuring out if these are real “issues” or if it’s really simply all anxiety? I ideally want to the be the type of spouse who can make space for their partners mistakes and except to be disappointed at times, but mostly focus on the wonderful strengths in the relationship. But I seem to have developed a bit of a negative “filter” if you will around even the slightest of things…How do I shift away from this negative filter that is really robbing me of feeling connected and appreciating my partner for all of his wonderful qualities!

  • Newly Married

    I think I figured out that the reason why I may have a hard time to connect or feel safe with my husband is based on fear, I am afraid that he will hurt me therefore because he did things that were hurtful on top my all my childhood I am afraid and I because hipper trying to analyze if he is with me for the good reasons trying to avoid getting hurt and thats where my sense of “not trust, not feeling safe, etc” comes from, yes maybe there was some things that were hurtful but my anxiety has taken them to the top and that sense of safety got lost because thats how i have been all my life. My husband of course is not doing anything to create that environment anymore he is awesome, so it is me.

    This post came at the perfect time, I was feeling that most blogs would not apply to my feelings, thank you so much Sheryl
    Lots of love to all.

  • Newly Married

    One question though is its possible to maybe get some help in, how do I know my husband and I have an attachment rupture? Based on what we discussed Sheryl when I contacted you about how my husband would make up stories to create jealousy games for his own insecurities and based on all his behavior? I have a hard time with that. I wondered if thats us? although there never was a sense of total safety with him because of our fears, we are working on it little by little though. But is it me or us? or we have never had attachment?….. Confused……

    • Safety comes first and foremost from within and from our connection to a greater source (God, nature, Life Force, however you conceive of it). Just like we can’t expect our partner to make us feel connected, so we can’t expect our partner to make us feel safe. Yes, there may be an attachment rupture, but that can be repaired if you’re both committed.

      • Newly Married

        Thank you Sheryl:
        I guess my confusion comes them from the fact that I understand if then this sense of not feeling safe then comes because I am projecting my anxiety on him or because his behavior of jealousy games and making up lies are what caused this? Or borh?
        I m constantly anxious and get angry about how he behaved telling me things about his ex even before we got together like he missed her one day and then he loved me later made me feel like he is not with me for the right reasons or because he ever loved me. Then when we got back together and married again playing games and not been clear made me go into a state of total anxiety and fear and unsafe. And then when I confronted him he confessed it was his own insecurities and jealous of me that he made up stories that were not even true to get a reaction out of me but now i m questioning everything and even then he would not be clear until i literally went crazy. Specially because he said he always loved me but pushed me away because he didn’t want to get me involved in bad behavior he was in( not anymore) so it’s confusing to me, does this apply to me? Or not really? This article?
        He had matured and he and i have an amazing relationship other than that, he says he understands how his behavior is confusing and can bring up a lot of doubt of course but that he is now conscious when before he just thought it was just jealousy games. This behavior is not happening anymore and he really tries and does the best for our relationship, however now also i feel so stupid too because i think to myself how did i come back why did i not expressed my feelings right away? And i dont know if its my pride or whar that says, if he left to be with another girl before i m diminishing myself by being with him? Even though he says he didn’t leave to be with another girl he just said that and the girl who he was with had nothing with him, she was just there! It was just he didn’t want to get me close to him back then because he was involved in gangs. And he looked me again because he wanted to be with me now that he could give me a better life, not because that woman Left.
        Do you thbk its me Sheryl and my anxiety ? I been anxious of course my whole life, i used to be anxious about being gay or bisexual before. Or is it that my anxiety shoot up more based on his behavior? Does your work apply to us, me?

        • Newly Married

          I dont want to leave, we really have a good relationship and we really work out great together is just that sense of safety and questioning and everything that makes me feel very unsafe and I am afraid to be hurt again. Sometimes my ego tells me that I should go just because he left you and because of all the mean things that he used to say then at the same time I think that relationships are not perfect and we can work this together in this just part of the process and part of healing just like you say that no relationship is perfect but I get confused between those things so I need help

  • ellen

    Hi Sheryl,
    I noticed that your Walk with Love post is now password protected- neither of my passwords seem to get me access to that post.

    I found that post quite comforting and wanted to access it in moving forward. Can you share it with me either by helping me understand how to access it or by emailing it to me?

    Thank you so much,

  • Thank you so much Sheryl for your work! I’m still applying so much that I learned in your open your heart course. Several of your words of wisdom ring true like mantras when I’m in need of an anchor back to center. I’ve also been able to take three separate clients much further than I ever would have when it comes to their own relationshipa anxiety if it wasn’t for finding your rare and gifted words. Thanks again!

  • Francine

    I needed this so much. I am so scared lately, I flip-flop constantly between worrying he’ll leave me or cheat on me (which would crush me beyond belief) and worrying that I’m bored in his company at times, that I don’t feel alive enough, that our conversations aren’t interesting enough or that we just won’t ‘make it’. ENOUGH – it’s time to do some work again. Thanks Sheryl, I don’t know where the hell I’d be without this blog. Fxo

  • Silver

    Last night was a very painful experience, I gave up on my partner.I had to stay in other country before this happen which made us long distance for the first time. Being the immature lazy and anxious one. We talked about me losing my connection with her and my heart keeps growing away since my partner ask me why I don’t care for her anymore and don’t give time. Constant assurance seeking by questioning me about certainty and how I see her, what she is in my life made me tell her that she’s nothing and what we’ve done for almost 2 years is nothing not even real things happen between us (I can’t tell her really due to my thoughts). I told her that I fear change also in this particular point in my life wherein I fear that when I grow and heal, I would leave her and be guilty to what she done for me all this time. Reading LightAtTheEnd’s comment It made me feel the same way, I was very distracted at other woman who is more attractive physically it made me difficult to control the energies within me that keeps telling myself that what if I’m with that woman who is more attractive, “I might feel different” or “I feel like I just used my girl to pass time” “You’re not really in love with your partner because you want other woman not her deep down.” Makes me lose every inch of connection and wanting for her. I have also this heart who is very envious, who wants to have what other people have. I have also the need of constant admiration and attention telling me or noticing me how good I am. I want to climb the ladder of success so that I could reach satisfaction in me. I’m not gonna talk how are relationship was cause I’m a huge red flag because of this and my anxious thoughts there is not even clarity whether I could call my partner a partner even I keep avoiding her. Lastly she told me that I was very selfish that I don’t allow myself to grow and mature too much self pity and negative thinking. Since I don’t trust myself I keep copying and molding myself to what something looks and say what is the best. But I can’t risk, since I don’t know what and how love and relationships work. And it feels like I’m FORCING myself to work and talk to her. Might be emotionally unstable and unavailable and I don’t really want to marry her. I was also moved by the comment “Because I can feel home with him.” I keep telling myself that there is a chance for us to work.

    Any tips to where I start doing the work? There’s too much issues but I’m considering changing my attitude and view things. I can’t really see my partner who gives the world to me

  • Jenna

    Thank you so much Sheryl for another beautiful post. I am a course member and an avid follower of your blog. My whole body feels like its lighting up when I read your work. Your posts are like little pick me ups or reminders not to fall prey to the projections and to keep moving forward. Your work and posts have been there for me like a wonderful and supportive friend when I thought there was no hope left and had nobody left to turn to. I feel like a different person to where I was last year… In the best way possible. It’s been and still is the hardest work I’ve ever had to do. Who would of known making friends with myself would be so hard ey? Or even realising that’s what I needed to do. To everyone out there who’s suffering with relationship anxiety please just stay strong, keep going! and follow Sheryl’s work. It will truly change your life. I am so greatful and have so much love for all of you out there.. And I’m so greatful for having gone through this anxiety which has been the most challenging and beautiful experience of my life. It’s made me who I am today. And I couldn’t of done it without you Sheryl! I can’t thank you enough for that. Thank goodness for you!! <3 🙂 x

  • agnes

    This may sound like an odd question, but I think I have trouble knowing when I am having anxiety…as a child I used to feel anxiety very physically in the form of tummy aches and tingly arms, legs and aching in my neck. When anxiety manifests in the body, I guess it has reached quite high levels (?), so, I’m not sure I know what to look out for in order to identify when I am anxious. I only seem to pick up on it when the dial is turned up to nearly max. Can anyone help?

    Sheryl, you also say that ‘it is hard to connect to anyone or anything when anxiety is at the helm’ – what if you are looking after yourself, being creative, doing the work and you do feel connected to other people (though I guess that you would say with others, the risk is not as high so connection is easier?) and connected to yourself, yet you still feel disconnected to your partner? This is not my current state, but often when I am making my art, I notice an ‘uh I don’t want to’ thought when I take myself away to be with my partner again. I usually notice it, but to go be with him anyway as this IS what I want (I think). I’d like to understand this resistance better. Do you have any ideas? Great post, as usual.

    • Eleonora

      Dear Agnes,
      What you are writing about regarding identifying anxiety is a very interesting topic. After all, if we knew that it was anxiety, maybe we would be less disturbed by the thoughts accompanying it. If we could say “ah, that’s anxiety” it would be less problematic. I think this is equivalent to what She’ll is talking about when she says “I am in my head” or “I am telling myself a story”.

      You write that you have problems to identify anxiety. I completely see what you mean. I believe that the associated feeling in the body when we have anxious thoughts is fear. And fear is not so easy to actually feel. In the book “The untethered soul” the author says that fear does not want to feel itself. In my case I have been trying to identifying symptoms that can tell me when I am feeling fear:

      – a feeling of being disconnected from my body and being intensively in the head. The body seems far away.
      – a feeling that whatever the feeling is, it is much bigger than myself (which is scary but probably not true)
      – the high prevalence of thoughts that scare me might in itself be a sign that I am in an anxious state
      – a feeling of being paralyzed
      – a feeling of being cold
      – shallow breath

      I would LOVE to hear other people’s clues of knowing when they are in an anxious state.

      Thanks for bringing up this topic, Agnes! I can relate to your other comment as well, by the way.

  • Kim

    Hi, I’m currently on the break free course, although I have hit a stumbling black ((maybe I haven’t gone far enough through yet). I’m carrying huge amounts of guilt because of lies I told at the beginning of the relationship because of my own insecurities. My (currently ex but open to reconciliation) partner has forgiven me but I still feel massively anxious around him, which has caused a deep depression that I’m in the middle of. Many of the steps in the course/personally fulfilling activities don’t bring me any joy because of the depression, which is brought on by the anxiety/guilt I carry in connection to my man. Is this something the course can help to rectify?

    • This work takes time, Kim. If you’re in the first weeks or months of the course, keep going, keep doing the work and you will notice shifts inside. Yes the course will address the issue you’re struggling with.

      • Newly Married

        Hi Kim I understand what you are going through, my husband and I were not honest at the beginning with each other, he made up things for his insecurities about him and a woman and he would keep bringing up the same more and more to push for me to open up about my sexual past which at first I didnt want to discuss and then I lied due to shame, all it did was for us to now feel very scared of each other, specially me. Its complicated but it does hurt when you dance that in a relationship, and its hard work to get back into trusting someone, but with work it will be ok, I used to get so down for not telling the truth and finally came up front to it to my husband and so did he finally, I feel feel like I dont trust him but we are working on it, my thought would be like maybe I should not be here because I dont deserve a good relationship because of my past, I still feel very shameful but my husband says he understand that for a woman is a million times harder to open up about your sexual past whether was or not very wide, because society can be Judges and we are afraid, my husband then understood that making up stories to try to get me to opened up about that because of his insecurities was not the right way either we both learned from it and though it hurts and sometimes my anxiety grows so much he says that no matter what he loves me and only wants to be the best for us, my point is, we all make mistakes and its hard and scary to accept those mistakes specially for us anxious people, we bounce between fear, and wanting to open up and then gult for not doing it fully, but my advice would be, dont be too hard on yourself, give yourself a break and commit to say the truth, its a beautiful opportunity that the universe put out for you to start loving yourself for who you are and fully accept you and embrace who you are with grace 🙂 hope it helps 🙂

  • Kate

    I’ve been struggling with the intrusive thought “what if my truth is to leave” for a few days now and thought I’d share my thoughts on it this evening as they have been rather positive. I read a comment posted on one of the old guest blog posts which really did give me a sense of peace and I define anything that gives me peace as something that resonates within me, something I don’t have to force myself to accept. Her comment highlighted something I’ve been missing all along…

    Relationship anxiety came (around the same time I was loosing my nan to cancer and me and my partner where making a commitment to move in together) and because I was unaware of this site at the time I believed everything my thoughts told me although I desperately didn’t want them to be true as I am incredibly blessed to have this man by my side which in turn took the confidence away from my (hope this bit doesn’t spike you) but my inner knowing that this is someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with so I began to distrust my real truth and lost confidence in that certainty that I knew I wanted this and fear took completely over my body and I became an anxious mess. So maybe the work isn’t about finding your truth but having the confidence to believe it again when fear isn’t there to take it away from you. As Sheryl says time and time again you already know your truth isn’t to leave or you wouldn’t be here doing such hard work on yourself to find something else. I think that’s nothing short of a monumental gift, because this process teaches you to believe in yourself and shows you skills you can use for the rest of you’re life. This little revelation has not only made me feel peace but also made me incredibly excited to start working with my inner world to help heal the pain of mum walking out on our family and to hopefully find the confidence in myself to not make the same mistakes as her.

  • Laura

    Dear Sheryl,

    I just want you to know that I truly believe that every single person that visits your website is grateful for all the effort that you put in writing these blogs. It does not only bring peace in all our minds, it also helps us to connect with other people having similar problems. You are just WONDERFUL!

    I never expected that I would find such reassuring words on the Internet. Your website is the hidden pearl of the world wide web 😉 I am incredibly thankful for your blogs (that are free 😉 ) because I am a student and I cannot afford your classes. Although I would LOVE to subscribe for one of them.

    I feel a really good vibe reading your articles. You sound like an intelligent and caring person who knows how it feels to experience deep emotions (as we HSPs do). I don’t want to talk about my worries to you for once, because I feel like it is absolutely necessary that you know just how wonderful your work is!

    Warm hugs!

  • Curious

    What do you mean when you say, drop down into your body and feel your feelings? How do we do that??

  • Heidi

    *i already posted this but on the wrong article, sorry!*
    Hi Sheryl. So, idk where to start. I don’t know if anyone will even see this or respond, but I feel so much emotion right now I just have to write it down. I am 26 years old & have had one relationship of only 1 year. The ending to that relationship changed me forever. It was the first time I ever experienced a “dark night of the soul” & the overwhelming thoughts of “I don’t love him” along with the paralyzingly sick gut feelings that were the result of anxiety. Whatever thoughts anyone has said that they have thought, I thought them. I was tortured. I felt that I must not love him anymore so I ended things. That breakup changed me forever. My heart felt like it was ripped out, I was in agony because of how much I knew I hurt him. This was five years ago. I have not been able to have a relationship since then. I get anxiety before I even go out on the first date. I’ll try, feel ok for a date or two, then the anxiety takes over & I end it because I analyze whether or not I feel anything for them, test my feelings, & just straight up sabotage any type of relationship before it even happens. I focus on the negative things so much that I’m not even able to get to KNOW the person & focus on the good things. I recently grew to deeply care about someone but the anxiety is there all the time it’s hard to pinpoint how I truly feel so I haven’t been able to do anything about it bc I just feel sick all the time & tortured with the same thoughts over & over of how I don’t have feelings, there’s someone better etc. There’s so much more I could say but this is the first time I’ve read something about relationship anxiety & OMG when I read an article from you I found from googling “what if I don’t love him” I BAWLED MY EYES OUT. You have no idea what a relief it is to know that it has nothing to do with anyone else but me. I have struggled with feeling disconnected, & the thought of a relationship or marriage ALONE triggers me. I started the Break Free course & its really hard for me bc everything I read makes me overthink & makes me think that I’m overreacting & it’s not for me. Do you recommend taking this course even though I’m not in a relationship or even CLOSE to being in one? Do you think I should do therapy as well? I’d really appreciate your insight. I can’t tell you how much of a Godsend you are to me. <3

  • Ash

    Do you have posts specifically related to over-analyzing undesired behavior of a significant other (and thinking every issue is a major issue)? It’s like I can’t figure out what things should be overlooked and what need a sit-down convo. In my mind every issue is huge and needs to be made right. I hope that makes sense.

    I ask because growing up anytime I mentioned something I wasn’t fond of in a boyfriend my mom would chime in with, “Well it only gets worse when you get married”. (She made that statement before I started dating, too.) I think that is part of the reason I stress and fret over arguments between my fiancé and myself, and when my feelings get hurt. It should be noted that I’ve always been an anxious person, change doesn’t come easy to me, and I don’t like to talk about situations when I’m not 100% sure of their outcome (ie: new job opportunity, starting a business). I think it all stems from being too self-conscious—which I am.

  • Nadia

    Thank you for this website.I am almost 30. Known with panic disorder and general anxiety but relationship anxiety is the most challenging for me. Since 9 months I am in a warm loving relationship with a pure,sweat soul who wants the best for me. But all I do lately is obessively scanning for danger, signs that I am in an wrong relationship leading to intrusive thinking and horrible panic attacks. Doubting my love for him. Almost to the point of leaving. I know he s my love. In times of rest I feel so safe, happy and there is so much tenderness. I went back in therapy. It would be the worst if I would leave him out of fear. Hope I can work it out. Your site helps me. Thank you!

    • You can absolutely work it out. It takes a lot of dedicated work using the proper tools and information, but with enough commitment and patience you can learn and grow through this and learn how to open your heart for longer stretches of time.

  • Diana

    Hi. I found this website when I needed the most and it gives me hope. I have been in a great relationship for 3 years. I struggled with anxiety in relationships before but until now it was about me being scared they would leave, that they would find someone else. I cared about my present relationship and hated the neediness that sometimes showed so I started talking to a counsellor. The episodes of asking for reassurance grew smaller and I was feeling better. But for almost a week now I have the opposite feeling: a horrible fear of him asking me to marry him because I don’t think I want to.(when the previous week I kept wondering when he will do it) I lost my appetite and have an almost constant knot in my stomach, barely want to do anything. I am scared I don’t love him. I moved from my home country so he is all the family I have around at the moment. He is a wonderful person. I can’t tell if it’s my anxiety or if I’m just scared to be alone. But deep down I don’t want to let go but is that because of fear?? It doesn’t feel right to make a decision because of fear.

    My questions are:
    Is it anxiety or do I really don’t want this relationship anymore?!
    Should I talk to him about it, is that fair, how even can I explain?! ?
    Is there still hope for things to be good again between us?

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