Growing Trust is a Key to Healing Anxiety and Worry

by | Sep 3, 2023 | Uncategorized | 13 comments

Underneath anxiety is a lack of safety. And underneath a lack of safety is a lack of trust.

Said in reverse: When we trust, we feel safe. And when we feel safe, anxiety quiets down.

But, oh, how challenging it can be to trust!

Worry is a Buzzkill

When Everest turned nineteen a few weeks ago, he wanted to celebrate his birthday by going up in a hot air balloon with his younger brother, Asher. As I’ve shared in several places, I come from a long line of expert worriers, so worry tends to be my default in a situation that includes risk, especially one that involves both of my sons! As such, worry-mind sent me all kinds of catastrophic “what if‘s” in the days leading up to the adventure, but I’ve worked with that part of me enough to be able to bring in a calm, rational mind so that I can allow my sons to follow their passions.

The morning of the launch we woke up at 5am so that we could arrive at the launch site by 6:00. The sunrise was glorious; fire lit across the blue skies of Colorado. The boys were in good spirits and excited for their adventure.

Everest had made it very clear that if my husband and I were going to go with them to the site that he did not want any of our worry. He’s been a real teacher for us lately as he has been clearly communicating that, contrary to what a long line of worriers believe, worry does not equal an expression of love. He wants us to celebrate his joy and join him in his excitement.

In short, worry is a buzzkill.

So we promised we would leave worry behind, and off we went.

The Antidote to Worry is Trust

As they lifted off the ground and I heard worry-mind tap on my brain with its familiar warnings, I had to turn to the antidote for worry, which is trust.

I trust the hot air balloon pilot.

I trust the balloon and the basket and the heat that makes it float.

I trust that my boys to make good choices.

I trust the wind and the sky in the mountains and the geese.

Trust does not necessarily mean trusting that no bad things will happen. We know that bad things happen. And trusting blindly is to be in magical thinking and fantasy.

But in a situation that is known to be quite safe, trust means choosing to trust the more likely outcome. It means recognizing the default mode of worry-mind, and choosing instead to be in joy, and dare we say, perhaps even to trust joy.

And yet… as weIstarted with, it’s not easy to trust. Trust is a practice.

Trust is a risk. 

Why is it so hard and scary to trust? We enter the world full of natural trust, but for most people, trust was ruptured early in life.

If you cried and nobody came, trust was ruptured.

If you were bullied in school and nobody stood up for you, trust was ruptured.

If you received the message that you were too much or not enough, trust was ruptured.

If your passions and gifts were judged and not supported, trust was ruptured.

If your learning style didn’t match the style taught in school, trust was ruptured.

If you were given an idea of God/Spirit/the divine was anything less than pure, forgiving, compassionate, unconditional love, trust was ruptured.

If you were rejected by a sibling, trust was ruptured.

There are a thousand ways for trust to ruptured. But the more important question is:

How is trust repaired?

Trust is repaired when we re-learn healthy attachment – the places of belonging – within ourselves, with others, and with the spiritual/creative realms.

Within oneself, trust is repaired when we learn how to show up for ourselves in healthy ways, tenderly and skillfully tending to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations as we would a child.

With others, trust is repaired when we feel seen and loved exactly as we are. Trust is also repaired when we bring our gifts to our community.

With the spiritual and creative realms, trust is repaired when we learn how to access a reliable source of love, comfort, and deep purpose. This can happen through committing to spiritual or religious practices, and it can also happen by growing a consistent relationship with nature or with a creative source (which are also spiritual practices).

Repairing trust is foundational to inner healing work, and it’s a significant part of what I teach in Break Free From Anxiety: A 9-month course on the art of living. 

Through slowly and gently spiraling through six modules – Resistance, Responsibility, The Physical Realm, The Emotional Realm, The Cognitive Realm, and The Soul Realm – as well as meeting regularly with me and other members in group coaching calls and in smaller, carefully selected groups of like-minded seekers and learners, you will learn how to repair broken trust in all directions: with yourself, with others, and with the spiritual realm.

If you struggle with career anxiety, relationship anxiety, insomnia, intrusive thoughts, health anxiety, or OCD and you’re ready to take a deep yet gentle dive into your inner work, please join us for the 5th round of the course, which starts next Sunday, September 10th. This is the last week to sign up. Learn more and sign up here.

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13 Comments

  1. Hi Sheryl – I’m very drawn to your work and am interested in your 9 month course. I have hesitations because I am so undisciplined in my life with the exception of going to work and making sure my daughter is taken care of. I push off all other responsibilities and feel like healing has been a chore because no therapy, book, coaching or medication has gotten me dialed in enough to get out of my mental health disorders since terrible ppd and PPA 6 years sfo. I just don’t know if I trust myself to commit and do the work. I’m rambling a bit but just wanted your honest feedback on how successful others with a host of mental health issues have been managing your course on top of motherhood and running a business. Much love and gratitude!

    Reply
    • Good question – and I think your inner knowing is already shining through :). It sounds like you have a sense that you’re not in position to commit to the work at that moment and it’s probably better to wait.

      Reply
  2. I decided to sign up for this round of the 9-month course, and I think it will be interesting to do it now as opposed to when I did it two years ago. Not that it didn’t help at all then, but I think I wasn’t far enough removed from some of the immediate trauma and grief I was going through at the time. Just in 2023 I’ve grown so much and had so many new experiences- plus started a medication that so far seems to be taking the edge off so that it may be easier to do the work. I’ll be very interested to see how it goes this time!

    On that note, I believe it was during this course the last time that I took it that you said it would be vital to my healing to make friends outside of my family (and my primary therapist said that, too). I am overjoyed to be able to say that I have made several friends since returning to Alaska last June- one of which I actually text frequently and we talk about a lot of even some pretty heavy stuff. Still working on developing close female friendships, which I realized might be somewhat difficult for me since I grew up in a house full of boys.

    Also, I love that Everest is confident and safe enough to feel okay about saying “No thanks. I don’t want your worry.” That’s pretty cool!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you’re be joining us again, Riley, and it does indeed sound like you’re in a very good place from which to receive the course material. And I’m THRILLED that you’ve made some good friends in Alaska! That can make a huge difference in our overall well-being and healing processes.

      And thank you for your comment about Everest. Yes, it’s amazing that he can express his needs so clearly, and it’s been a true gift to us as his parents and as human beings.

      Reply
  3. Sheryl,
    I’m so happy I found this website, resources and this community. From as early as I can remember I’ve had ocd tendencies/anxiety thoughts. It started out with thinking my house was going to catch on fire, then lead to not being able to sleep at any friends houses (I would always have to have my parents pick me up), every Sunday I would get sick to my stomach to go back to school on Monday.
    My parents, that are still together today, have never had the best relationship. They fought in front of my a majority of my life while I was living at home up until the age of 23/25.
    I have been in the same partner for almost 14 years now, we started dating when we were 15 and have only been with each other. I’ve had these feelings of rOCD/relationship anxiety on and off for a majority of our relationship.
    I would say from about 2020 up until about May/June of this year was so amazing! No anxious and intrusive thoughts about him or our relationship, felt very connected to each other, had a great time together, make each other laugh, have the same values, want the same things etc. we moved back in with my parents in April of 2022 and that’s when I felt like things started to come back slowly for me as far as my intrusive/negative thoughts go. Specifically from January of this year up until now. I had a surgery in April that I kept having intrusive thoughts of “am I going to wake up?” “How bad is the surgery/post op going to be?” And I’ve done this my entire life, especially when I don’t have anything to compare it to – I’ve never had surgery before. Everything went fine! I worked myself up so much that after the surgery I had developed insomnia for about 4 weeks after surgery, I still go through spurts of not sleeping well.
    Anyways, since then my relationship anxiety has come back full swing. We live in NY and have our whole lives but we’re planning a move to Texas by the end of the year hopefully. A time that I want to be so fun, exciting, happy and full of life feels like the total opposite and some days feels like I’m making a mistake. When I think about it, deep down I want to move with my boyfriend, try somewhere new, get a new job, meet new people etc but the questions of “what if” or “are we right for each other?” “Why would I be feeling like this if we were right for each other?” I think a lot of my intrusive thoughts about my relationship also stem from the fact that we have only been with each other so I also don’t have anything to compare it to. I also haven’t seen anyone else say that they’ve only been with this one person that they’re with now so that also makes me nervous and makes me feel like *I am the exception*
    We have gone through so much together and even when I’ve gone through periods around having these thoughts and questioning things, I’ve always had a feeling to not leave. Something has always told me that staying isn’t right but leaving isn’t either. I keep getting this feeling of not feeling safe around him – even though nothing has changed in our relationship except for the moving half way across the country factor. But do I give up a perfectly healthy relationship because I’m having doubts? Or even if I did leave and find someone else down the road, would I still have this relationship anxiety? I guess that’s what keeps me up at night.
    He’s such a good person, hard worker, loves me SO much, wants to move to Texas for a better life for us, we have great conversations, make each other laugh, tell each other everything and are honest and supportive of one another.
    I just wish there was someone/something to tell me “you’re in the right relationship, this is just your anxiety that you are projecting onto your partner” it’s so difficult 🙁

    Reply
    • It sounds like you’re struggling with textbook relationship anxiety and the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course would benefit your enormously. Please note that I can’t offer advice or guidance through my blogs, and that ultimately the work is for you to come to your own place of clarity, which hinges on self-trust.

      Reply
      • Thank you, Sheryl! I will be purchasing the break free from relationship anxiety course very soon ☺️

        Reply
  4. I’ve been struggling with anxiety my whole life and now at 25 it seems once again to be reaching a breaking point. I have relationship anxiety among others, and also suffer from a feeling of impending doom and fear for future. My main problem/obsession for seven years now has been my college/career choices. I recognize this is a privileged problem to have, but this thing is literally agonizing and I feel like I can’t take it anymore… And as I’ve read your writings I think this goes wayyy deeper than this choice, although it’s hard to see. Would this course be of benefit? What about Trust Yourself? I’ve read and googled and studied tons though but all that hasn’t quite gotten integrated in me….

    Reply
    • Hi Carla: Trust Yourself will help you address the current iteration of anxiety, but if you’re looking for the deep dive to address the lifelong anxiety I would recommend this course.

      Reply
    • Hi Carla,
      thank you for verbalizing that. I’ve never seen someone verbalize so succinctly how I was at exactly your age. Especially the part where you agonize over whether you’ve made the right choice of school/career for yourself or (if I may fill in the gaps with my own themes) “made a huge mistake and ruined my life by choosing wrong”, all the while anticipating some horrendous disaster or accident to come to my life. All I can tell you is how unbelievably lucky you are to have found Sheryl’s work now that you did. I envy you so much. My life took a very dark turn because I’d been trying my best to address my anxieties in all kinds of both mainstream and alternative ways, all unsuccessful, and finally decided to try a yogic breathwork technique with an organization called ‘art of living’ that’s supposed to ‘easily cleanse emotional blockages’ and it turned out this technique was too intense for my system and it just caused untold damage, because as I learned too lete, HSP aren’t built for intense breathwork. Apart from ‘don’t do intense breathwork’, my heartfelt advice to you would be to stick with Sheryl’s work. As I’m trying my best to rebuild myself, it’s been the only thing so far that I felt ‘got me’; it’s unlike anything I’ve been exposed to before, and it just ‘hits the spot’ in ways that are very deep and meaningful, healing and *nourishing*. I know you probably won’t see my comment, but just in case – know it’s ‘a thing’ what you’re going through, as I didn’t have anyone to tell me that when I was in the position you were in (other than the occasional pathologizing by well-meaning doctors). And know that although ‘what’ you choose as a path seems so super pivotal, all the while wondering if ‘the other thing would maybe have been better’, but it’s *so much more* important to put your attention on *how you show up* for the thing you’ve already chosen, and to give your best to where you are. I wish I’d known that back then.
      All the best.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your thoughtful and supportive comment, Tea. xx

        Reply
  5. Beautiful post, Sheryl. I love how you named some of the things that seem common, or ‘normal’, during childhood that rupture trust. I imagine those experiences are shared by many of us who feel anxious into our adult years. Thanks for the writing! Hope the hot air balloon experience was a memorable one for the boys!

    Reply
    • They loved it! And thank you for your response to the post :).

      Reply

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