How One of Netflix’s Top Shows Can Help You Fall in Love with Your Partner

by | Feb 7, 2019 | Intrusive Thoughts, Open Your Heart, Relationships | 35 comments

Anxious people aren’t typically the most easy-going people on the planet. Because our high sensitivity wires us for hypervigilance, which then causes us to scan the horizon for danger, we’re physiologically primed to have a more tightly-wound nervous system. Unless you received guidance as a child for how to work with this propensity to worry, all of those worry-strands continued to coalesce and gather strength in your body and psyche over the years, forming a tightly wound ball of twine until it reached a breaking point. The anxiety can focus on any topic, the most common being relationships, sexual orientation, health, money/career, parenting, and death.

When you can identify your personality type (tightly wound hence the need to control), you can see how this trait would easily transfer to your most intimate relationships. This point was illuminated for me as I watched a few episodes of one of Netflix’s top shows, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. About once a year I fall in love with a series on Netflix. Two years ago it was Grace and Frankie; last year it was Queer Eye; and now it’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Yes, I’ve fallen into the craze, and I’m loving every minute of it. But of course when I watch any kind of television (which is rare), I’m also looking for the subtext story, the one that isn’t necessarily the focus of the show. So when I’m watching Tidying Up I’m fascinated by the dynamics between the couples, and I can see almost immediately which people are prone to anxiety and which are the more easy-going, laid-back types.

And I sit there thinking: “Those laid-back types. Does anything really bother them? They seem to laugh things off and easily move from moment-to-moment without becoming mired in projections.”

Of course, I realize that I’m watching a tiny slice of these couples’ lives and personalities. Like Facebook, they know they’re on international TV and they’re not likely to air their emotional dirty laundry (only their actual dirty laundry). But I’m watching not their words as much as their energy, the way they look at one another, and especially their degree of reactivity. Anxious/sensitive people are more reactive. Less anxious people allow things to slide off their backs. They laugh more. They don’t take everything so personally.

And what’s even more fascinating for me to realize is that, over the many years of doing this work, my husband and I have become more laid-back people. And the more laid-back we become, the more deeply in love we fall.

What do I mean by “the work”? I mean working actively and daily with fear. I mean seeking help when we’ve reached roadblocks. I mean being devoted to a daily practice. And I mean practicing the Love Laws and Loving Actions that I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction for your partner, the tools of which were born not only from my work with clients but also from my own marriage.

Love is a Choice

I’ll share one of these tools here – one that stems from the foundational principle of my work on real love:

Love is a choice. It’s not only a feeling. It’s not ecstatic fireworks or fluttery butterflies. Love may start there (and it may not) but real love is a choice that we make every single day. It’s an intention and an action.

Let’s take this a bit further and show how this basic premise can help you cultivate feelings of love and attraction.

Since love is a choice, you can choose to see through a fear-lens or you can make the choice to see through eyes of love that perceive the heart essence of your partner. The tricky part here is that we’ve been so culturally conditioned to believe that you’re either attracted and in love or you’re not that it’s difficult for our brains to fathom that we can choose to see our partners through different eyes.

In other words, you can choose to see the same features or characteristics or perceived areas of lack (not social enough, not intellectual enough, not driven enough) through a different lens. As one course member shared, “I used to be repulsed every time I saw my partner’s ponchy belly and would think, ‘Why can’t you exercise more?’ But the more I did my inner work and saw that this was a projection of my own self-judgement about my body and other parts of myself that I criticized under a microscope, the more I softened inside. Then one day I looked at him and thought, ‘You’re so cute and your belly is like a big cuddly teddy bear.’ And I saw in this moment of clear-seeing that his snuggly belly was just like him: warm, safe, cuddly, and my deepest comfort. It was a total shift in my perspective, and that shift made me soften in other ways.”

It’s a practice to see through clear-eyes because fear and anxiety are the default lens for most people (especially those who find their way to my work), and every Love Law and Loving Action in the Open Your Heart Course is designed to support the creation of this new lens, which is literally a new way of seeing. Opening your heart is fundamentally about learning how to let go: how to soften the fear-walls, how to release control, how to yield into the soft, vulnerable heart where you can see your partner’s soft, vulnerable heart. It’s what I see in some of the couples on Tidying Up with Marie Condo, and it’s what my husband and I grew into after so many years.

This is my sixth year teaching this course and the 14th round, and thousands of people have learned the Love Laws and Loving Actions that have helped them arrive at a softer heart so that they can let go of the fear that causes the tightening and see their partner through clear eyes and fall in love in the real sense of the phrase. As letting go of control happens in layers, taking a course like this won’t solve your anxiety or make you feel instantly in love with or attracted to your partner, but it will plant the seeds that will help you begin or continue the process of letting go of fear and reorienting your vision and perspective that will eventually allow you to see your partner through eyes of love. This round starts on March 2, 2019, you can learn more here, and I look forward to seeing you there.

***

Note: If you’re struggling with relationship anxiety and have NOT taken my Break Free From Relationship Anxiety Course, I recommend starting there. You can learn more here

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35 Comments

  1. Thank you, Sheryl. I’ll have to check out that show! I have a question, if you don’t mind. I’m sure this person won’t mind me sharing as there’s no identifying information in the comment, but someone on the forum said this and it really resonated with me:

    “It’s like in principle I do understand it, intellectually, it does make sense. Practically, however, there’s just no evidence for me.”

    This is how I feel. I believe in the work, but there’s no evidence of it working for me in my real life. I feel so jealous of those on the other side and feel like I must be doing something wrong. I must not be trying hard enough. What do we do when this is the case?

    Reply
    • What do you mean by it not working for you? When I talk about “the work”, I’m referring to committing to a mindset of full responsibility, which includes doing the daily practices (whatever those are for you). Have you been able to adopt those two aspects of the work?

      Reply
      • To a certain degree, yes, but there’s always more I could be doing and I’m scared of getting trapped in that loop where it’s always going to be my fault if I don’t feel okay.

        By it not working for me, I mean, there’s still intrusive thoughts, emptiness and a sense of mental ill health.

        Reply
        • Ugh…I think one of the things that prevents me from committing to daily practices is that my brain registers it was black & white thinking/perfectionism/diet-mentality (i.e. ‘gotta stay on the wagon!’) which are all things I’m trying to get away from. But then I’m stuck because I do actually need rituals in my life. I need routine and I need to prove to myself that I can commit to practices that serve me. It’s part of self-trust. My critical voice is so strong when I try to make positive changes and so I avoid committing because dealing with that critique is too painful.

          For example, it’s like my hobby of blog-writing. I avoid it now because my inner critic is so vicious that it saps all the enjoyment out of it. Then, there’s no motivation to pick it up again because the voice will pick apart every word I type.

          Reply
          • I hear you, agnes. It’s a real challenge when that inner critic – which is also the voice of resistance – pipes up with a vengeance and zaps the joy out. I encourage you to start there: dialogue with the critic and see if you can see that inside this voice is a small, scared child. Reviewing this article may help:

            https://conscious-transitions.com/in-bed-with-fear/

            Reply
  2. I love this and I’d also like to say – How food is Grace and Frankie??

    Reply
    • Good* whoops

      Reply
    • I love Grace and Frankie too!!! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Love this blog about seeing through clear eyes. I feel like everything about my partner has been such a projection and it all leads back to my own feelings of rejection. Like everytime I start doing my inner work about our differences, his silliness, etc I see how it all leads to my lack of acceptance for myself. But I’m enjoying watching my heart open up as I peel back the projections and hurts. I’m starting to see the good of who my partner really is and the good in myself. I remember reading on one of the blogs where someone mentioned that it’s important to learn to see through clear eyes and fill ur inner well. And I will testify that it makes such a difference. Anyways, just wanted to say that clear eyes rock! Thanks as always, Sheryl. Sending love your way 🙂

    Reply
    • Yes, clear eyes do rock, Sara! And it can take so much work to clear the lenses, which you’re doing.

      Reply
  4. Also, I love the quote from your client about seeing her partners belly differently. Tho the physical has never been a struggle with my partner, I’ve alwsys struggled to love my own body. Yet I love how he sees me through my essence rather than my weight. We’ve both gained weight since we’ve been together and together we are working it off. But he is so playful in how he sees me. In his silliness he will pat my belly and his lovingly go “oh little pancita! So cute!” And I’m so thankful that he sees the beauty and sweetness in something that has always been hard for me. Anyways, just another reminder of how clear eyes help us to see others and ourselves in the beauty of who we really are.

    Reply
    • Sara – I think I’m in love with your husband, lol. Just kidding, but seriously, that is such a wonderful story, as is Sheryl’s client’s. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
    • I love your story, Sara. Thank you so much for sharing!
      Your husband is inspiring me to treat my partner with more kindness and tenderness in this area. It’s also making me wonder about my own projections of insecurity and how I may may put that on him.

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for your perspective Sheryl. I used your site at a really tricky time in my relationship, and did so much work to overcome the ways that I was self-sabotaging in a partnership that was very valuable and happy and I was taken to new heights of understanding and contentment.

    Recently I’ve been rocked by some revelations (I discovered that my partner behaved very poorly to an ex toward the end of their long-term relationship – about 5 years ago – nothing that would get him in jail, just behaviour that is completely unlike the man I know and love) and I find myself skittering back down the hole again.

    I feel at a loss with how to navigate this new dynamic. Suddenly I’m so aware that the man I know did really unkind things in the past, and I’m struggling so hard to accept the knowledge and move forward in the relationship, because I feel guilty if I act like nothing has changed, but at the same time he can’t change what happened so there’s no way to improve it. I don’t worry that it’ll happen to me, but I suddenly feel so disconnected from him because I can’t conceive of my partner, and a man who would behave so poorly, being the same person. And so I feel stuck in limbo, in a relationship with a man that I love dearly but struggling to find peace with a situation that he cannot change. I know he regrets his actions, and is a different person now, but it flares up in my mind whenever we’re together. I’m hostile and cold because I don’t feel like the man I’m near is my partner, and I’m angry at him for hurting somebody the way he did. But if I soften and reach for him, I’m angry at myself and feel like I’m being weak and letting him off the hook.

    I’ve always been so focused on action and solutions, trusting myself to work hard to find the answer, and this is a whole new challenge where action cannot help me, and it’s devastating to feel like I did so much work, only to be completely unmoored again in a way that I’m ill-equipped to deal with.

    Apologies for the rant, aside from my partner I’ve had nowhere to turn with this, but I know that your resources will provide some wisdom for me.

    Thank you again x

    Reply
    • It sounds like what’s being asked of you is to move toward acceptance and forgiveness. As long as your partner is remorseful and has learned from his past actions – and his current behavior isn’t a reflection of his past actions – this isn’t a red flag. Your anxious mind will treat is as one and will likely latch onto it as a reason to run. Your work is to name the current escape-hatch story and keep tending to your underlying fears around how risky it is to love.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for your writing.

    What happens when both partners are mired in these sensitive considerations? Nearly two years have passed since my ex made the decision to lean into her uncertainties (which both of us wrestled). Most days I still have to work at accepting this decision. I miss her a lot.

    What does it look like to move on, and yet feel heartbroken that the choice was not made to continue our relationship? I struggle still to reconcile this. She is still in my heart and mind, often daily.

    Reply
    • There’s a lot of grief and heartbreak in the comments this week, so know that you are not alone. Life rarely unfolds as planned, yet as I shared with Starla below it’s through these massive ruptures that we’re invited to learn and grow the most. We can heal from loss as long as we’re willing to tend to our hearts and minds, but it’s never simple or easy and, like all inner work, requires a daily commitment to show up for ourselves with kindness and devotion to a healing practice. Journaling is my top choice, but there are many others.

      Reply
  7. I love this article, Sheryl. Your wisdom is the only of it’s kind that I can find and I’m so thankful for your guidance.
    I do have a difficult question… what do you recommend, in terms of practice, if the relationship ends? I have been in your Open Your Heart and your Breaking Free courses, and am still very much struggling to get out of the fear and to understand the true nature of love. My husband has made the heartbreaking decision to end our marriage. So, how does one move forward with their inner work when there is no longer a partner to do this work ‘on’/ practice on…if that makes sense? Is it possible to become a more loving partner when you no longer have a partner to love? I feel so lost with how to move forward in doing the practices when so much of it is based on how you treat/view your partner… and to try to still focus those practices on my husband, who will never again be there, is just too painful.

    I’d appreciate any wisdom you, or anyone else, has to share.

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry to hear this, Starla. The inner work after a breakup or divorce is first and foremost about moving through the grief process, which has its own arc and timetable. The work right now isn’t about practicing with a partner but about tending to yourself with utmost care and gentleness, and remembering that every transition, even and especially the most painful ones, are how we crack open and grow. Sending love.

      Reply
  8. I just signed up again for netflix after a long hiatus. Looking forward to watching Marie Kondo, now especially after your notes on it. As an anxious type, I have an easy time spotting other anxious types in real life.

    Reply
  9. Hi Sheryl!

    Where to even start? I have taken your course “breaking free from relationship anxiety” and it helped a lot in regarding to understand what love is and etc. But it also showed me that I have a lot of trauma to work with, and right now I am in the middle of a huge healing journey. I have a somatic therapist and a life coach who is specialized in helping survivors of childhood trauma. But a lot of old fears regarding my relationship has serviced as I actually never did the practical work when I first took your course. I just read. I hurt so much right now. Both from old pain and new pain. And can help feeling that the best and most kindloving action I can do for myself is to leave my relationship and focus on myself as I am full of and with myself right now and I really don’t have anything to give to him. And it hurts me so much. But then I read some of your writings and blog posts and I get a little sense of a hope. But I don’t know I am so confused. I feel like I want to take this open heart course, but I am afraid it would be another thing that I will not full heartedly do. What is your advice for my situation?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • It’s quite common to believe that you have to leave your loving relationship while in the depths of the healing process, but I hold a different mindset. We all, as human beings, must endure difficult patches, and a loving partner can not only tolerate those rough spots but help us through them. Yes, ultimately we want to focus on giving more than getting, but we’re not always in a place where we can give to another, and that’s okay. Does your partner understand that depths of your pain and how hard you’re working to heal it?

      As far as taking Open Your Heart, if you feel that you can devote some time each day to learning these principle and actions – perhaps 10-15 minutes – I recommend taking it. It would help you shift out of yourself a bit, which is always a good thing, even in the depths of your healing process.

      Reply
  10. Dear Sheryl
    Thank you so so much for your post. I love Marie Kondo, I’ve read her books and they are so good! Her method is beautifully spiritual and much deeper than just mechanical throwing things out ?? I just wanted to say, if you ever lack inspiration for a post, please write about how being a highly sensitive / anxious person is a good thing, what are the benefits and how are we the “lucky ones.” Your post left me slightly saddened that I’m not one of those super cheerful easy going types, who don’t take things to heart too much, who just roll with the punches, who don’t mind criticism, who don’t cry easily, and so on ….
    thank you very much
    Gabi

    Reply
    • In some way, I offer that perspective in many of my blog posts, and it’s an entire section in my two main e-courses: Conscious Weddings (which I believe you have) and even moreso in Break Free From Relationship Anxiety. It’s also a significant part of my upcoming book, The Wisdom of Anxiety, so stay tuned :).

      Reply
  11. Hi Sheryl, loved this post. Seriously considering doing OYH AGAIN!! Would be interesting to see after all this time apart,if a fresh perspective might emerge. Hmmm….. Much love. Xx

    Reply
    • I’d love to see you there, Zoe! I’ll be sending out an alumni discount code soon.

      Reply
  12. Dear Sheryl,

    I like Marie Kondo too 🙂 I decided not to watch the series, though, as I thought it would spike me into some “shoulds”, like “I should be more organized”, which I already am, so I decided I don’t need more of that for now hehehe.

    Changing topics a bit, I’d love to hear your thoughts on dating. If I understand that love is a choice and not just a feeling, that butterflies in the stomach are not necessarily always there and so on, could I try to “convince” someone else of the same? There’s this man I’d love to get to know more, and sometimes I just feel like shouting “hey, you don’t have to think of me as a princess so that we can date; the feelings would come in time” hahaha – I know it sounds silly, but would it it be wrong to try to “convince” someone? Not as in just asking them out, but something deeper than that. Or would I be going against the principle that says that, for love to happen, the other person should be available and willing. It’s not that this guy is anxious (I’m the anxious one, in fact), and he’s definitely not a jerk – the one you usually talk about and for whom all giirls feel attracted etc, I guess he just doesn’t “like” me, but I would love to try anyway, in the lines of “I want to learn more about you so that I can decide if I want to learn to love you”, but I guess I could never dare to say it as he probably thinks “if I don’t like her, we’re not meant to be” as everyone usually thinks.

    Sorry about the long post, and I hope I could get my (weird haha) point across.

    Thanks and all the best!!!

    Reply
  13. Hi Sheryl,

    I was surprised you said you liked Grace and Frankie, to be honest. I found the show incredibly spikey because the ex husbands didn’t choose to love their wives, when I believe they could have made it work. It seemed like it was another way Hollywood tried to justify that you can’t choose who you love. Again the show was incredibly spikey for me, for this reason. I just hate it when I see people choose not to love their partners, when they have good ones. I’m not homophobic. It’s just I think the men could have had satisfying relationships with their wives if they CHOSE to. Especially in Frankie’s case. I think Grace and her husband could have got there eventually. It’s just scary that they didn’t make that choice and the uncertainty of it all. Am I crazy for thinking that they could have chose otherwise?

    Reply
    • I can understand why the show would be spiky if you’re prone to a sexuality spike, but in this case the men were clearly gay. As such, they made the loving choice to leave their straight partners and pursue a life together, which was honoring to everyone.

      Reply
  14. On the flipside Anonymous, one could regard both female characters Grace and Frankie to be excellent examples of filling ones own well – they make new friends,challenge ageist stereotypes, explore spirituality and the inevitability of death and start a new business!

    Reply
  15. My latest and probably most intense spike is astrology. Our synastry(relationship astrology) is pointing to many issues and possibly a fundamental incompatibility. I feel heartbroken and feel like I’m fighting against fate or something. Is it okay to love awkwardly for life? I feel like they way we live each other is so awkward and full of fear. I don’t know if anybody else has this astrology spike.

    Reply
  16. So I’m a little confused why Grace and Frankie is an ideal show to help with anxiety about relationships. I watched the entire first season and really liked it, until Grace breaks up with Guy because he “isn’t that” (in reference to Phil). He’s an awesome loving guy and she says herself she’d be stupid to break up with him, but she “doesn’t love him”. Maybe I’m interpreting this wrong but I do not understand how that is a helpful message. I feel like that is definitely more of what the culture says- that you have to look for “more” and not be content with who you have. To be fair, I haven’t watched the second season in case there’s clarification there. I am just confused about that, how it’s helpful..

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely right: that’s a terrible message. Overall I love the message of the show but that part is problematic for sure. Thank you for pointing it out.

      Reply

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