What is the Work of Breaking Free from Relationship Anxiety?

A coaching client recently said to me, “You talk a lot about doing “the work”, and I wondered for so long what “the work” was. I thought that if I understood anxiety intellectually I would feel better. And the first time I went through the course I did feel better for a while, which I know is very common for new course members. But then I felt anxious again, and I realized that I wasn’t doing the work.”

“How do you understand the work now?”

“For me it means going underneath the story. It means taking the information out of the realm of intellectual understanding and putting it into practice. It means dialoguing with these different parts of myself, which is about engaging with them instead of being fused with them. It’s so different to dialogue with the part of me that’s scared of intimacy as opposed to just thinking … Click here to continue reading...

Deciphering Suicide

I’ve been reluctant to write about suicide as it’s a vast and complicated topic that extends beyond a single blog post; to write about suicide from one perpective inevitably calls to mind another perspective, another angle, another mindset. But suicide is in the news due to the recent celebrity deaths and, as such, the topic is coming up with my clients and on the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety/Conscious Weddings E-Course forum, so I feel compelled to offer my perspective.

What I offer here is one lens through which to view the suffering that can lead to suicide. By no means do I mean to over-simplify this complicated topic or appear trite, but I share this perspective in the hopes that it will shed light for you or someone else who may be suffering. Sometimes one crack of light is what we need to create a shift that leads … Click here to continue reading...

Heartbroken Not Broken

Shame is often a placeholder for powerlessness and a protector against grief. Instead of feeling the rawness of grief, the mind latches onto a shame story that says, “I’m broken.” Instead of surrendering to the powerlessness of painful situations that had nothing to do with you, like your parents’ divorce or any other trauma, the shame story says, “It was all my fault.” Instead of leaping off the cliff of thoughts and diving into the sea of vulnerability that defines being human, the shame story says, “I don’t deserve love.”

These shame stories often arise in childhood as brilliant defense and survival mechanisms, for if children were to see the truth of their family, social, societal, or education situations and feel the corresponding feelings of loneliness and heartbreak they would crumble. Shame gives us an illusory sense of control: If it’s my fault, I can change it. If I’m doing … Click here to continue reading...

Debunking Sexual Myths: Genital Response Means Desire

One of the spokes of any anxiety wheel is cognitive distortions: the assumptions, misunderstandings, and expectations we form about love, relationships, romance, parenting, sexuality, and nearly every realm of being human. Because we’re not explicitly taught how our minds and bodies operate – how to understand and attend to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations – we’re left to form our own conclusions based largely on what we see in mainstream media. Since the mainstream seems to know virtually nothing accurate about these aspects of being human, the vast majority of these conclusions are incorrect, which invariably leads to anxiety since reality will rarely align with what we’re told we “should” be thinking, feeling, and experiencing.

In the realm of relationships, as I’ve written about repeatedly on this site, this often sounds like, “I should be wildly attracted to my partner” or “I should just know when I meet The One.” … Click here to continue reading...

A Foundational Key for Breaking Free From Anxiety

“This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.”

― Marion Woodman, Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul

We’re a neck-up culture. We place a high premium on words and believe that our salvation comes from intellectual prowess. We talk and think and ruminate: talking our way out of problems, thinking our way through dilemmas, and fully believing that all of life’s answers are found in our heads. Some of this propensity toward talking comes from our extroverted culture (Americans have a particularly bad reputation worldwide for being blabber-mouths) but it also comes from a defense mechanism that begins early in life for many children: when the pain is too big, they travel away from their bodies, which is the locus of pain, and into their heads.

This … Click here to continue reading...