Fear is a Friend in Disguise

IMG_6472There’s a common concept in our culture – one that I’ve adopted myself at times – that fear is our enemy. When we’re caught in fear’s offspring of anxiety and panic, it certainly feels like we’re been taken into enemy territory and are being held hostage. It feels like someone wraps a gloved hand around our throat and is sitting on our chest with a fifty pound bag of bricks. Anxiety in any form around any storyline – relationships, health, impending loss/death – is an unmanageable state that feels like torture.

I’ve learned so much over the many decades that I’ve become intimately acquainted with fear’s many faces in my own psyche, the mind’s of my kids, and the inner worlds of my clients, and one of the lessons that stands out the most is that fear is not, in fact, our enemy. Just like one of the main tenets of conscious dreamwork poses that all dreams – even nightmares and what we refer to as “bad” dreams – come in the service of health and wholeness, so all symptoms of waking psyche, including anxiety, panic, intrusive thoughts, recurring somatic issues, and insomnia – arrive like emissaries from our personal underworld to deliver opportunities to strengthen our sense of Self. In other words, without fear as the challenger, we wouldn’t have many opportunities to grow.

We’re on a family vacation this week, and, as a result of encouraging the passion of my aviator son, my claustrophobic tendencies have been pushed to the limit. Over the course of the last three days, we’ve walked through a quarter-mile long tunnel, been packed into a freight elevator with 50 other people, and shot up the side of a 600 foot building in a glass elevator (can you guess what city we’re in?). Yesterday took the cake as we gifted him with a seaplane ride for his birthday. While he was more ecstatic than I’ve ever seen him, I felt terror take hold the minute we took off. In my early years of struggling with anxiety in my 20s, this kind of experience would have surely sent me into a panic attack. But yesterday I relied on the many tools that I’ve developed over the years to walk myself through fear: prayer to connect to the still-point of unwavering strength, breath to anchor, focusing on the beauty and majesty of nature to allow the bigger field to edge fear out of the way, and love (which is always stronger than fear). About halfway through the flight, I was able to let go and appreciate the view. And by the time we touched down into the water, I was smiling. I can’t say that I would choose to go up in a seaplane again any time soon, but if I want to share in my son’s passion and inevitable path as a pilot, I’m going to need to work with this fear over and over again, on many levels.

Each time I face a fear, I work through a layer of a block between me and my highest self. Fear, in this sense, is not an enemy at all, but is truly a friend in disguise. For there is a certain and undeniable sense of elation that comes when we face fear head on and rise to our next level of strength, one that doesn’t arise in any other way. While my son’s joy after the ride stemmed from his pure and unadulterated passion for flight, my joy came from facing and then releasing one gripped, gloved finger of fear that squeezes my heart. Depth psychology posits that our greatest wounds carry the seed for our greatest gifts. This is why anxiety and fear, when worked with consciously, always lead to gratitude for the struggle.

Nowhere does this tussle with fear show up more prominently than in the world of intimate relationships. As soon as fear pricks the heart, we shut down, for fear and opening are mutually exclusive. Fear constricts. Fear causes us to withdraw. And fear, most especially, colors our perception: when fear is at the helm, we see our partner through the narrow slits of cloudy eyes, the negative projections of our own inner demons filtering our perceptions.  The challenge, of course (and I say “of course” to those of you who are well-versed in my work), is that we’re not taught to view common relationship feelings like doubt, irritation, loss of sex drive, and lack of attraction is manifestations of fear and disconnection. And if we can’t name those experiences accurately, we fall into the danger zone of assigning first-layer meaning, which, in our culture means: it’s time to leave.

Nothing could be further than the truth. We need to learn the truth about love, which also means the truth about fear. We need to shift our mindset from “love should be easy” to “every manifestation of fear is an opportunity to strengthen my capacity to love.” We need to understand all of the ways that fear shows up so that we can become fluent and fluid at the art of naming them. These are just a few of the tools and techniques for shrinking fear that can be learned so that we don’t remain stifled under fear’s stronghold. The rest of the tools are what I will teach in my next round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner. If you’re ready to take the next step toward loosening fear’s grip and learning the Love Laws and Loving Actions that will help you feel more love and attraction for your partner, please join me on August 27th, 2016 for this ninth round.

There’s so much to learn about fear, and we cannot learn about love without learning about its counterpart. As much as we may know that fear is interfering with our joy, we must also learn that fear deserves our respect and gratitude. For fear is often a protective, early defense mechanism we learned as children to keep ourselves safe from the pain and powerlessness of being small without an adult to attune to our needs and guide us through the minefield of big feelings. In other words, fear kept our vulnerable hearts relatively safe until we could grow enough to find better ways of handling pain. So we begin with bowing down to fear with a silent and reverent thank you. From there, the rest of the work begins.

56 comments to Fear is a Friend in Disguise

  • Sarah

    I always love your words Sheryl! I’m in the midst of a hard summer. A toddler and a 9 month old, a husband with mono, and a mom and two grandparents with declining health. I’ve felt a lot of fingers of fear take hold. “What if I just don’t like my kids?” “What if my husband and I just aren’t attracted to each other?” “What if my mom dies?” I’m so glad to be able to combat that though, and not go to pieces in the face of fear, but to greet it and let myself be and give myself grace in the face of hard things. Thanks for this post! It’s still not a season I want to be in forever, but so much easier once you get the hang of this whole compassion and curiosity thing!!

  • Rachael

    Thank you, Sheryl. I am still relatively young, in my first relationship, and it has taken me months to even begin releasing myself from the grips of relationship anxiety. I have been very careful of risk in my life, and often avoid situations that might place me in physical danger; I just never thought I would experience such an adverse reaction to ’emotional danger’ as well. For the past few months I have wrestled against fear, reading it as a warning sign to avoid rather than a “welcome” sign to walk towards. From reading your posts I can feel myself moving from intense anxiety to an uncomfortable feeling of numbness, which again feels scary but as I move into it it begins to feel more like peace. I am immensely thankful for your posts and endless wisdom 🙂

  • E

    Hello Sheryl
    Thank you again. How do we help our partners who are not quite “feeling” or understanding all of this “move toward Love instead of fear” busines? My sweetheart and I separated two weeks ago and thanking God, we are talking more openly and I’m realizing I did not respect him, which is huuuuuuge for a man! HUGE! I did a lot of reading and listening using “Love and Respect” by a Christian counselor who gets it. How do I gently guide my Love to understand that all of the reasons we separated were based on fear, not just “we shouldn’t be together because I don’t love you [in this case, he feels he no longer loves me] anymore?”

    I am a Love-Warrior who is finally getting it. I’m just praying it’s not too late. 🙁

    Thank you

    • You can send him some of my articles, but ultimately it’s about letting go of control/outcome and surrendering the relationship to a higher power (which is the hardest thing in the world to do!).

      • Kyle

        Oh my gosh, NOTHING COULD BE TRUER! This is one thing I have been learning this week, and it has totally changed my perspective. I realized that when I have an intrusive thought or feeling, I feel a compulsion to try to do something in the present to control the future outcome. I feel a drive to do what I can right now to “fix” my situation, whether that be googling, praying, reading articles here, sitting with the thought, etc. The problem is when I have done those things, I have actually been ruminating, and that’s why I often feel worse at the end. When we sit with a thought for example, we should not come to the table with the goal of reaching assurance or controlling the future by the end of the session (that’s what a lot of us do when we worry- we are trying to find a way to get rid of this anxiety now and make sure it doesn’t show up in the most important moments in the future). We should come knowing beforehand that because of the fundamental ambiguity of life, we can never prepare enough in the present to ensure the outcome we want for the future. In other words, there is nothing we can do now to 100% guarantee we will not feel something in a future moment. We need to come to the thought knowing that our job is done; that we have done all we can, and if the plan goes crashing to the ground, it will not be because we didn’t put enough effort in. Sheryl, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is why you say we should come curiously to the thought. It’s not that we should combat the desire for control with curiosity; it’s more that we never had control anyway, so all we can do is be curious and be at peace with that. Wow, I feel good! It feels freeing to know that rumination never has done, never can do, and never will do what I’ve tried to use it for since my childhood. It’s not serving me anymore, and it’s time to lay it down.

  • E

    I’ve already done the Open Your Heart, Weddings, and Anxiety courses, by the way…I sent him some of the thoughts from those during our last round of heavy doubt

  • Rebecca

    Thanks Sheryl for your beautiful words of wisdom and hope.

    I have been going through the spiral of anxiety and pulling away from and then moving toward my partner again and again.

    I’ve recently taken time out and see that the love we were cultivating is not the love my higher self wants. I see my higher self delving now into more deserving and I’m not sure that will occur side by side wiht my partner but I’m doing the work any way to feel my way through it.

    He’s also getting it – opening up and softening and communicating with more patience, I’m just not sure he’ll change at the same rate as me. But then, that’s his journey right… and perhaps this period is about cultivating faith – that what ever plays out – I have the strength to handle it.

    Big love,

    • I’m wondering why you believe that you and your partner need to open and soften at the same rate? But yes, a big piece of this work is about cultivating the faith that whatever happens, you will be fine.

      • Rebecca

        Good question- I think it’s because I’m scared I’ll outgrow him and we won’t have a depth of connection that I’m craving. That’ll I’ll need to leave him behind so I don’t stunt my own personal development…

        • A very common, fear, Rebecca, and one that is usually rooted in anxiety instead of truth.

          • Rebecca

            Oh Sheryl, it’s soothing to hear. It’s a lot~ toddler~ new business~struggling to get ahead. Lots
            feeling the load! Thankyou for your words and space which allows
            Women like me to feel seen, heard and allow for vulnerability. Biggest gratitude xoxoxoxoxooxixo

  • Mhk

    Your experience in the sea plane reminded me of my experience rock climbing this summer. I had done it last summer and it was amazing how different it felt this time around, especially after working through your anxiety course. I have a fear of heights, but when I was perched on a ledge high up, in between climbing pitches, I could suddenly relax and just trust the process and the equipment, and take in the gorgeous view. My body was still reacting but more and more my mind was in control. My climbing guide that day kept saying how he views rock climbing as a metaphor for life – so true! In the same way, I am learning to trust in my “gear” (the tools I develop to confront fear) and distinguish between real causes for fear and exaggerated reactions or projections. My fear usually keeps me on the ground, but once in awhile I can say “thanks fear, but you have done your duty and I want to climb up there and see the beautiful views!”

    Rock climbing is NOT going to become a hobby anytime soon, but I see the value in facing fears in all aspects of life – from choosing to climb and challenging course to choosing to commit to my partner.

    • Absolutely beautiful, Mhk. Thank you for sharing. Fear’s entire mission is to try to keep up safe, whether from the risk of love or heights. The trick is to learn to discern between true danger and calculated risk. Love and rock climbing are calculated risks, and are scary endeavors for those of us who are risk-averse!

  • Saskia

    Dear Sheryl,

    You always seem to know what people need the most at a certain time. I am tapering my antidepressant which is related to some fearful thoughts like “Is this the right time?”, “Will the fears and intrusive thoughs come up again?”, “Will my sex drive come back?”.

    This is a very exciting time for me right now. I know, I am ready to do this, because I felt so much better recently, but this morning I was again full of fear, full of negative projections which I am still not able to handle sometimes. But know I can sit down with my thoughts and my fears and kind of talk to them, so that I can get aware of what they are trying to tell me. I felt diconnected to myself in the last couple of days, because I had the feeling that I don’t get enough time for myself in my relationship. But that is actually my own fault as I don’t talk to my partner about needing to spend time on my own. He is very much understanding about my needs so acutally there is not even a problem. But not talking about it makes it bigger in my head than it needs to be and so the viscious circle of fear and intrusive thought starts again. I hope, you get what I mean. But talking about it with my partner makes it easier for me.

    So, Sheryl, thank you again for showing me, what a real, honest relationship with all of its feelings should be like.

    Best wishes

  • MelleS

    Hello everyone !

    This article makes me want to share with others who are struggling with anxiety how i try to work through fear and anxiety. Maybe it can help. Like you say in this article, Sheryl, i noticed that fear has many forms. So, i draw my fears. For me there is a main character that is my fear (as i noticed that fear appears arround 8 PM, i draw a clock with big frighten eyes) and this character has some henchmen. All are the different forms of my fears. Now when fear appears i can name it and see it with humor. It helps me face fear. My partner helps me to find names to my characters and we laugh at my fears together.
    No need to be very good at drawing, what matters is the image.

    It’s the article about inviting anxiety to share a cup of tea that gave me the idea to work through fear like this. So thank You Sheryl for your work.

  • Hannah

    Hi Sheryl,

    What would your advice be to someone who is feeling really closed off?

    I went on a break with my girlfriends in July and was really nervous about it because I didn’t want to leave my SO. It wasn’t for long but I had this horrible fear and beliefs that caused my anxiety. One being we would drift apart and not love eachother anymore. When I got back I was so excited to see him and as soon as I saw him I felt my whole face light up. I was so happy and so proud to call him mine. I have had moments where I have felt like we are made for eachother and we are soul mates. I know lots of people in this community say not to use those phrases because they don’t believe in it but that is just how I felt in those moments with him, jus so much love! And then fear krept in and now I just feel nothing. It’s so scary and horrible, I don’t like it. I have been journaling – which to be honest doesn’t really help me, I feel it makes me worse. I have been excersising, speaking with my LA as hard as I can, done gratitude lists in my head (Maybe not as much as I could have done) but I have noticed that we aren’t as affectionate as we used to be. So, does this show that loving actions really do open the gateway to love and feeling connected to eachother? We had a chat last night and we both agreed that when we have sex more often we do feel closer, when we have it less we tend to drift apart. So, for someone who is feeling really disconnected and off, do I just keep going? To be honest, I don’t feel any happiness for anything in life right now. I’m feeling pretty off all round. I am hoping the gateway to love will open soon so I can reawaken my love for my partner but this is even more scary knowing am engagement is around the corner, what if I say no? I know we are both nervous about getting married as my partner keeps saying ‘I hope you don’t say no’. My normal reaction is ‘why would I say no?’ But sometimes I feel like there is a part of me who doesn’t want to get married and just wants to run away. Even though there have been times I have wanted to go and get married there and then. Am I seriously closed off right now?

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl, I am feeling anxiety free and thats freeing feeling. Now i can see through clear lenses, I wanna tell you I like the bit where you said ” without fear as the challenger, we wouldn’t have many opportunities to grow. I am learning and believing you full heartedly thats a true statement.
    With love Angela ?

  • E

    Angela, how did you get to that place???
    Thank you!

  • saskia

    Dear Sheryl,

    You always seem to know what people need the most at a certain time. I am tapering my antidepressant which is related to some fearful thoughts like “Is this the right time?”, “Will the fears and intrusive thoughs come up again?”, “Will my sex drive come back?”.

    This is a very exciting time for me right now. I know, I am ready to do this, because I felt so much better recently, but this morning I was again full of fear, full of negative projections which I am still not able to handle sometimes. But know I can sit down with my thoughts and my fears and kind of talk to them, so that I can get aware of what they are trying to tell me. I felt diconnected to myself in the last couple of days, because I had the feeling that I don’t get enough time for myself in my relationship. But that is actually my own fault as I don’t talk to my partner about needing to spend time on my own. He is very much understanding about my needs so acutally there is not even a problem. But not talking about it makes it bigger in my head than it needs to be and so the viscious circle of fear and intrusive thought starts again. I hope, you get what I mean. But talking about it with my partner makes it easier for me.

    So, Sheryl, thank you again for showing me, what a real, honest relationship with all of its feelings should be like.

    Best wishes

  • Bra77

    Thank you Sheryl for your work. This blog has kept me in a relationship with the sweetest, most caring partner I could ask for. Lately I’ve been dealing with my need for approval/aliveness from people. At a wedding I attended this past weekend I was there alone and a couple of times I wanted some other women to come up to me and to flirt with me. They were just thoughts but I had them on three different occasions. I do have thoughts like these about me hitting on or flirting with other girls almost every day and it does not help my fear of cheating me. I know that love is a choice and that saying no to all these women are a loving action. I realized though this past weekend is that when I was younger I used to fill myself up with a multitude of women because I wanted to feel not only alive, but I needed approval from them to feel like I was worthy and good enough. This is the reason why I started weight lifting when I was so young because the more muscular I got, the more people would notice me and I would feel good about myself.

    Is this normal Sheryl? Is this a part of me grieving the single life as me and my love go long distance and plan to marry in the next 5 years? Thanks in advance

    • Hannah

      I am sort of the same! Before I met my partner I loved being single because I loved the attention I got from multiple other guys. It felt good and it made me feel wanted. It actually became a real addiction and if I didn’t get the attention I wanted from a guy I would get annoyed and find someone else for there attention. It’s really bad but I think this is something we need to grieve! It’s not a problem if you have those thoughts, it is a problem if you act on them. You just need to grieve it that’s all!

    • Kyle

      Hi Bra77,

      I think I responded to your post least week, lol! Again, even in this area, you and I are very alike. I spoke to my therapist a couple months ago about these very same thoughts (yes, while in my relationship). I hated them and didn’t want them, and just wished I could “love” my partner more (how do you measure love?). Anyway, I found that it was my projecting onto my partner that made me feel apathy for her and excitement for other girls. Once I began seeing that there is really nothing wrong with my partner, I began appreciating her more and more, and I can say now that those thoughts are not a big issue any longer. I’m telling you, DO THE COURSE! Don’t wait. No longer. Sign up today and start it. It may not fix all your problems, but it will help you understand that your brain is playing tricks on you because it doesn’t want to take the risk of loving; the risk of losing your partner. You may not see it at all right now; I did not either. But you will by the end.

  • Marg

    I recognize that view! I’m getting married there next weekend… sure wish you were sticking around for the week 🙂

    But really, thank you for helping guide me to this point where I can take this next step – willingly and happily. Without your guidance and wisdom I don’t know where I’d be. I’m entering this union in such a stronger place than where I was a year ago, feeling prepared to handle the uncertainties the future will bring and continuing to build our relationship on a foundation of REAL love.

    Hope you had a great vacation in the PNW!

  • Angela

    Hi E, I have been suffering this relationship anxiety for 4 years, and with Sheryls incredible courses have gotten me to this freeing place. The best thing you can do when struggling with anxiety is talk about your feelings with your partner and that helped me. Hiding your irritable feelings will only take longer to heal.

  • anxiouslyengaged

    Hi Sheryl,

    I appreciate this article so much! I have been noticing that as II work through my relationship anxiety, fear continues to pop up in all aspects of my life. Since as far back as I can remember I have always been scared of the ‘something bad that was going to happen’. I always try to correlate my fears back to God’s purpose in my life… what will be my challenge in life that I will have to learn about and get through. The hard part that I keep focusing on (I guess as a way to protect myself or to have some sort of control) is that I truly believe that some of my greatest fears WILL happen to teach me a lesson. Such as my fear of loss. And things that I am not afraid of (because there are some), will not happen because I am not afraid of them!

    I am thinking that this is another way for me to feel like I have some sort of control, to predict what may or may not happen in the future, but have you ever found this to be true?

    Sheryl, I truly appreciate your work and for your help in guiding me through these life lessons. I have truly been living so closely with fear for my entire life, so I know it will take as much time to continue to work on separating myself from the fear as well–so glad I got to start early.
    Thank you!

    • Yes, this is exactly how fear works: it hopscotches from my storyline to the next, and uses magical thinking to create the illusion of control about the future. No, I’ve never seen life work that way (manifesting specific fears that we have to teach us that exact lesson), but I’ve certainly seen the fear-mind work that way a thousand times over!

  • Paige

    Hi Sheryl,

    Lately I’ve been feeling like something is missing. Has anyone ever felt that. Like you’re missing something or hiding something from yourself. Idk. It’s really hard to explain. Its like what I’m doing isn’t enough; something is missing. Could that missing be me not wanting t admit I’m ready to leave my partner?? Its not a negative feeling or anything and its not accompanied by anxiety, its just this deep feeling or thought. Idk. Anyone else ever experienced this?? I’ve recently left religion alone and made a lot of big changes. Could this be what I’m feeling? Please Help!

    • It’s a common manifestation of anxiety, and of life. The danger trap is to assume that the emptiness or feeling that something is missing has something to do with your relationship, and the truth is that it has everything to do with what’s missing in your own life or your own self. Emptiness is also a normal part of life, and much of the work is to learn how to sit with it directly and compassionately. This article may help:


      • Paige

        Thank You, Sheryl

        The “Anxiety and Emptiness” article gave me clarity! It’s helped me tremendously. After sitting with the emptiness for a while, a thought came up that startled me. The thought was; “I love my partner so much, and I can’t believe I thought of leaving, I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t deserve my partner because I don’t know how to love them the right way; that’s fine whereas I’m working on it.” I grabbed my partner’s picture and cried endlessly at the thoughts of leaving. I knew without a doubt where I belonged. It felt wonderful. I never knew I didn’t feel worthy of my partner’s love.

  • SJG

    Thank you Sheryl for this and for all of your work. I find myself coming back to your site when I am in a funk (currently in funk) 🙂 I connect so much to your writings and they bring me a lot of ease and different perspectives, which I love so much. I know my funks entail narrow thinking. Currently I am fixated on, ‘what if he proposes and I say no’, ‘do we have enough chemistry’, ‘do I love him enough’.. I am also very focused on his idiosyncrasies, so much that I think I’m almost forcing myself to see him in a negative light. I identify what I am doing but also tend to wonder if that’s maybe just how I feel about him? This is by far the best relationship I have ever had. I don’t like when I get to this point. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

  • Northernlass

    Does anyone else find that the internet, media and culture is seeped with the idea that we are just not meant to be monogamous? It is even claimed to be scientifically against our nature. But I just can’t believe this. I suspect it’s to do with our ‘fast-food’ culture that doesn’t want to have to work for anything. .. not even our meals (so much easier to go through the drive-through at McDonald’s than slend an hour preparing a lovely, healthy dinner). We throw away anything that’s broken rather than try to fix it. Then we are bombarded with so many ways to have casual sex and multiple dates, through Tinder and other sites, and to have extra-marital affairs (there are even sites for those).I can’t help feeling like we are being brain-washed a little to believe that we aren’t capable of mating for life anymore. Yet it doesn’t hold fast, this concept, since mang of us can look at oyr grandparents and parents and other older couples we know who have been married or together for decades. Many of them aren’t even religious, so it’s not only religious conviction that holds them together. I’ve left religion (but still believe in a loving Higher Power) and still believe in coupling for life. I see that it has spiritual meaning and opportunity for growth and learning like nothing else. I still think (and maybe I sound old-fashioned, but hey-ho!) that children are better off in a stable family unit. I don’t think we want to do the work anymore that staying coupled for life takes. We don’t want to put in, which means, unfortunately, we won’t get out. What do you think Sheryl? Why are scientists and psychologists coming out with the idea that we were never meant to be monogamous? Anyone else got any thoughts on this?

  • J

    wonderful as always. I have a question about dreamwork though. One of the things Taylor says is that dreams never tell us what we already know. This is a little spike for me, as I’m always looking for what ‘hidden messages’ may be in my dreams, like my dreams are somehow in control of me. Is this a common concern?

    • Northernlass

      My sister is currently working with a therapist who suggests that dreams are often manifestations of our fear. Could your dream be a manifestation of something you’re afraid of? Losing your loved one? Fear of missing out or being ‘wrong’ or fear of taking risks?

    • Paige

      Dreams seem to help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. What we see and experience in our dreams might not necessarily be real, but the emotions attached to these experiences certainly are. Our dream stories essentially try to strip the emotion out of a certain experience by creating a memory of it. This way, the emotion itself is no longer active. This mechanism fulfill an important role because when we don’t process our emotions, especially negative ones, this increases personal worry and anxiety. In fact, severe REM sleep-deprivation is increasingly correlated to the development of mental disorders. In short, dreams help regulate traffic on that fragile bridge which connects our experiences with our emotions and memories.

  • Bluebell

    I am so grateful for your writing Sheryl. It’s difficult to express how soothing your words are and the places it reaches and attends to, it feels like a big security net reminding me how it’s fine and even good to fall. I had a bit of an episode at my friends wedding where I had a panic attack. It felt crippling as I couldn’t socialize or share the beautiful day the way I expected to, as I was a bridesmaid. I felt frustrated as I believe I have many tools to rely on but with so much change going on in my life, I didn’t prioritize my on-going practice. Your writing reminds me that sometimes life has a funny way of showing you your truth- perhaps I wish it was better timed as my memory of the wedding differs, but then I wouldn’t be dedicating myself the way I have decided to now. Thank you. Much love. x

  • bumblebee

    I really got trigger a lot by my fiance ,because of his uncertain feelings, about his fear of getting stuck if he marry me , fear of he doesn’t love me , fear of intelectual gap, emotional gap…my head feels like want to explode ..
    He insisted to marry me one month ago, and now he has crippling doubts, it always happen to him since the first time we met..
    but sometimes he said he really doesn’t want to lose me, he needs me ..I really confused

  • bumblebee

    he afraid that he’s just not into me.. he afraid that if he’s not overjoyed or even apprehensive by being with me ..what can I say

  • hayley

    Hi Sheryl. I was wondering if you would ever make a post about you and your experience with relatio ship anxiety, going into detail about how you felt and things you experienced?

  • Lili

    Hi sheryl, thank you for your post. Can you also write about fear of conceiving and trying for a baby? Me and my husband are thinking of having a baby but im very scared of this decision and athe transition, i keep wondering if this is the right decision, how could one know if its a good decision and the right time?

    • M

      Lili I am experiencing the same thoughts as you are. My husband and I are going to start trying the end of September and the thought is so scary to me and I am worried my relationship anxiety is going to be bad while I am pregnant. At times I am very excited about stating a family and other days I just don’t think I can do it or an not ready. But I don’t know if I will ever know when I am ready to start trying for a family. My anxiety makes it difficult.

      • Lili

        I understand what you are going through, its a difficult situation, but somewhere in our heart lies the truth. Hopefully, we will find the answer and be strong enough to trust what our inner voice decides.

  • Francine

    Hey Sheryl & friends – I wanted to say that I ‘m doing much better lately. I’m getting really good at dismissing misguided cultural messages about love (they’re EVERYWHERE) and I’ve experienced such warmth, softness of heart and wonderful ease of connection with my partner. In these times I’ve found myself thinking: ‘This is the most beautiful thing ever. I’m so so glad I stayed’.

    I’ve noticed that this rise to the highest heights of feeling occur after I’ve reached the bottom again and fully accept feeling bad and disconnected – usually anger and flatness. Across my life I’ve noticed that whenever I look forward to something (a meet-up/party/exciting event) I’m usually left disappointed; whereas if I approach it with a low expectation/pessimistic mindset I end up having some of the best experiences of my life. This is a problem as I can’t live my life expecting the worst, but it does alert me to something within myself that suggests that I protect myself from disappointment/high expectations. This time, my boyfriend was due at my house to go out to a big event and I just couldn’t feel excited. There was low self-esteem and general irritability in the mix, but I accepted the flatness and the angriness and to my surprise, I opened my front door to see his face and it lifted me. This soar up to serenity continued for several days, with only minor interruption. I’m still struggling with my sex drive, but I suspect that this is due to several things which are about me – anxiety performance, self-pressure, expectation (around how much/strongly I should feel aroused) and low body image. I noticed that when I imposed sexual pressure on myself (having sex for my boyfriend when I felt physically unwell) I descended into familiar resentment, irritability and lost connection. Then cue the: ‘he’s not enough’ – ‘if you loved him you’d hurt over him more, touch him more, feel more arousal’ type of thoughts and feelings of disenchantment…snowball, snowball, snowball. We all know the drill!

    However, those moments of true happiness are not only utter bliss, but they offer me such insight and clarity into what makes me tick. I hope sharing my experiences here helps someone else work themselves out. I wonder if anyone can help me with this though –

    If ‘fear’ feels like the truth, how do I know after self-examination, when I have reached THE truth? I’ve seen people write here that when they reach their clarity or the root of an intrusive thought, they often cry. I haven’t really experienced this. Whenever I ask myself what an intrusive thought/feeling might be telling me OTHER than its literal content, I am only exploring logical possibilities as other explanations. How do I know when I’ve hit on the right thing? I hope that was clear. Thanks, Fxo

  • Trina

    Hi there Sheryl,

    Your blogs are amazing! Thank you for such insight. I fear that I do not love my boyfriend enough. I fear that I will be a terrible mother and wife to him one day. I often find myself getting frustrated with him over any and every little thing and there are days where I question if I love him. I know he loves me a lot. He has not and refuses to give up on me despite my flaws and difficulty to be with. I constantly look for validation. He just purchased a new home and we are now living together. He even is renting one of the apartments out to my mom! He is seriously the perfect guy! But, I can’t understand why I feel this way! It kills me! Anytime someone asks me if I am happy or I am excited about getting married, I feel a nervous-butterfly like feeling in my tummy. I saw a physchic and she told me I feel this way because I do not love him and that I am going to be alone for a long time. I am truly afraid, and lost. I want to feel that love I know I have for him again and forever. Thinking about taking one of your courses. What would you recommend?

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