I never remember dreams but just had one last night where I cheated on my bf with a guy I used to date and had no feelings for. In the dream I felt really bad and told my best friend I wasn’t going to tell him that I cheated because it meant nothing and didn’t want to hurt him. She told me that was really dishonest and I was wrestling with that. I am wondering now if this means I feel guilty that I am having all this anxiety and doubting the relationship and he thinks everything is fine because I act really loving towards him, tell him I love him (and I do!). But the fact that he has no idea I’m struggling with this makes me feel like I’m hiding this big secret. I’ve told my ex-bf’s though about the anxiety and it caused a ton of problems and led to breakups so I don’t want to tell him unless it’s aboslutely necessary/relationship ending.
When she Googled the dream theme she found the following interpretation: “Cheating means you’re betraying yourself in some way.”
Let’s just pause for a moment to review the Conscious Transitions unofficial rule number one: NO GOOGLING! It doesn’t matter if you’re suffering from relationship anxiety, health anxiety, or any other kind of anxiety, as soon as you hand your fear over to Dr. Google you’re opening yourself up to the almost guaranteed possibility that you will increase your fear tenfold. The fear-mind looks for evidence to support its argument, so even if 99% of what you read sounds calming and reassuring, your anxious brain will find the one tiny footnote of information that will send you into an anxious tailspin. It’s not even what Google presents as much as where our minds go with it that’s the problem. And if we don’t have someone to guide us out the rabbit hole, it’s too easy to become stuck there.
Luckily, this member and I happened to have a coaching session already scheduled for the following day so we were able to dissect the dream and her response before the anxiety festered too deeply. With her permission, I’m sharing an excerpt of the session here (Keep in mind that her main anxiety hook is “he’s wrong for me”):
Client: When I read the Google interpretation I immediately understood that it meant that I’m betraying myself by staying in this relationship when I know it’s wrong for me.
Me: What could another interpretation be? How else might you be betraying yourself?
She took a moment to think about it. We fall so quickly into fear’s trap that it can take a few breaths – or longer – to pull ourselves out long enough to access a wise, clear part of ourselves.
Client: I guess I could be betraying myself by believing the spike.
Me: Right. Good. So let’s sit with each of those interpretations and see where they land in your body. First interpretation: I’m betraying myself by not being honest with myself that I’m in the wrong relationship. Where do you feel that when I say it?
Client: I feel it in my gut, which is where I always feel fear. It’s like a pang.
Me: Now the second interpretation: Every time I believe the intrusive thought, I’m betraying myself and denying myself the possibility of having a loving relationship.
Client: When you say that it lands in my chest. In my heart. I feel an opening inside of me. It’s not a huge opening because I’m been fused with the fear response for so long, but it’s an opening.
She paused for a moment. It was one of those rich pauses in a session when the chatter of the anxious mind quiets down and the silence that dwells in the heart makes an appearance. Then she said, “I’m not letting myself have the love I deserve.”
This is how we grow our inner loving parent: we take the time to self-reflect and consider how different statements land in our bodies. This is how we pull back the projection of believing that the problem is our choice of partner and instead explore the root causes of anxiety, one of which, for this client, is the belief that she’s not worthy of love. Once we broke through the projection, other spokes of her intrusive thought wheel – with “he’s wrong for me” in the center – came tumbling out of her; once the projection balloon pops we see clearly what was living in the center. This is how we dissect relationship anxiety spikes and heal from the inside out. This is how we grow our voice of clarity, compassion and wisdom. This is how we learn to take responsibility for our well-being and engage in a healing process that serves us for the rest of our lives. This is how relationship anxiety, and all forms of anxiety, when approached with consciousness becomes a gift. As the client said at the end of the session, “I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty self-aware person, but there have been entire parts of myself that I’ve had no idea how to handle. I’ve learned and grown so much from doing this work.”