How to Shatter the Myths that Are Keeping You Stuck

A great deal of my work centers around shattering myths about love, romance, and intimacy that cause untold amounts of anxiety in relationships and sexuality. If we start with the very basic “doubt means don’t” slogan that permeates the culture of romantic love, we see immediately what happens when we dismantle this pernicious myth: we’re free to experience the very common and often necessary doubt that arises in the face of real risk, and we realize that the more we make room for the doubt, the more it shrinks. This is the paradox of acceptance: once we accept what we fear most, the fear eventually falls away.

But the myths that keep us stuck aren’t only centered on love. We carry myths about friendship, myths about work, and myths about life itself. If only our early educational years focused more on the reality of life and less on the fantasy images disseminated by the media we would create a much healthier foundation upon which to enter adulthood. It’s the myths about life that have been cropping up in my work with clients over the past few weeks, so I want to shatter two of them here:

Myth #1: That Where You Live and the Lifestyle You Choose Will Create the Shimmer and Shine You’re Seeking. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of the following: “I never imagined living this life, or the life that I’m headed toward: the suburban house with the partner and kids. It seems so boring. What about my fantasy of living in a loft in New York with a cat? What about living the artistic, bohemian life?”

To which I respond: “So why aren’t you living that life?”

“Because I crave stability. I want a family. But what about that other life?”

“What do you think the other life will give you?”

“Excitement, joy, shimmer! I would never feel bored! I wouldn’t be ordinary!”

“What’s wrong with ordinary?”

“I just never wanted to be ordinary. Is that normal? Do you hear that a lot.”

“Yes, in fact…well… it’s quite an ordinary thought. And when it comes to the demons in our minds, this is where we want to be ordinary!”

Nothing will create that inner glow you’re seeking except for your own connection to yourself. That’s not to say that there might not be geographic locations that are more suited for your temperament (and I’m not talking about relationship anxiety here, so if that statement spiked you please harness your loving parent right now!), but there isn’t a location or lifestyle in the world that’s going to make you feel whole and alive any more than there’s a perfect partner that’s going to make you feel whole and alive. Learning about your aliveness is your job and yours alone, and for some, it’s the work of a lifetime.

Myth #2: That Life and Especially Adulthood Should be Easier Than It Is.

You might consciously know that growing up isn’t easy, but when you’re stuck in the trenches of trying to figure out what it actually means to be an adult it’s easy to forget this cognitive awareness and revert to the cultural myth that adulthood should be effortless and easy.

Western culture is predicated on an adolescent mindset that stunts our growth and makes it difficult to step into full-fledged adulthood. Because the culture waves out the flags that say, “Follow your bliss! Life should be a party! If your relationship is difficult it means you’re with the wrong person!”, most people find it difficult to grow up. This leaves you in a perpetual state of adolescence where you believe that work should always be fun and inspiring, you should feel in love forever, and life should be easy (like it was in college).

I’ve dissected myths about love hundreds of times, so let’s take a moment to shatter this myth about work that says, “I should always feel inspired!” The truth is that work will not always be fun and inspiring. Yes, the hope is that you find work that is meaningful and aligned with your values, but that doesn’t mean that work doesn’t sometimes feel like work. Regardless of the messages of the culture, most of us have a resistant adolescent character inside that would much rather watch a movie or sit around eating potato chips than buckle down and do the work that needs to be done. The path of growing up includes working with both the culturally conditioned and nascent resistant part of us that bucks at the idea of hard work as we recognize that being an adult is not the life of the adolescent or the college student.

How do you shatter the myths that are keeping you stuck?

As I often say on my blog and courses, you douse them with truth-water.

And how do you learn the truth?

By limiting your exposure to mainstream media and proactively choosing to immerse yourself in quality information, including books, podcasts, documentaries, and even who you follow on platforms like Instagram. If you’re at a loss about what this means, start with my Recommended Resources list.

You didn’t have a choice regarding the information you were exposed to growing up, but you have a choice now. You can choose to continue along the path of least resistance, which means continually exposing yourself to the damaging myths extolled in mainstream media or you can choose to nourish yourself with information, images, and messages grounded in truth and wisdom.

What myths are keeping you stuck? The ones I’ve listed above are only two of the hundreds of myths that the culture propagates that inhibit stepping into your true self. Do you carry myths about love, friendship, having children, work, family, sexuality? If a belief or expectation is externally imposed instead of internally derived, it’s something that you’ve absorbed from the culture and it would benefit you to start to unpack it so that you can clearly see where you’re shifting offtrack. I’d love to hear which myths you’re untangling in the comments below.

68 comments to How to Shatter the Myths that Are Keeping You Stuck

  • Sheryl, I know you hear this so many times but you truly are a mind reader. This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today 🙂 Thank you.

    I have been reading Pema Chödrön’s book “Start Where You Are” and I wanted to share a passage with you that A) I think you’ll appreciate, B) I literally had shivers down my spine reading this. So powerful, and C) Reading this made me think of you because this is what you teach us in your course, being there with yourself…taking the middle way.

    “Feeding the ghosts…The third practice is to feed the ghosts. This involves relating to your unreasonableness. The way you relate to your unreasonableness is by making a relationship with it. Traditionally, you make a little torma-a little cake- and you offer it. Maybe you offer it during a ceremony, maybe you put it out each morning, but in any case you physically offer something to the ghosts, the negative aspects of yourself.

    When Trungpa Rinpoche talked about feeding the ghosts, he talked about unreasonableness that just pops out of no where. Out of nowhere we are unbearably sad. Out of nowhere we’re furious and we want to destroy the place. He said, “You fists are at your wife’s eyes.” What an image! Without a warning, unreasonableness just comes up out of nowhere- Bang! There it is. Frequently it comes first thing in the morning, and then the whole day has that angry pissed-off feeling. It’s the same with sadness. It’s the same with passion.

    This sudden unreasonableness that comes out of nowhere is called the dön. It wakes you up, and you should regard that as best, rather than try to get rid of the problem. So, on the outer level, you give the dön a cake. On the inner level, you see that a dön has risen, that it has all this force, but you refrain from blackening anybody’s eyes, from acting out, and you also refrain from repressing it. You take the middle way yet again and let yourself be there with the full force of the dön. Being there has the power to purify you. That’s a description of 100 percent mindfulness.

    Just as you accumulate merit by going beyond hope and fear and saying, “Let it be,” the same with the dön: there’s some sense of “let it be.” There is even an incantation that says, “Not only do I now want you to go away, you can come back anytime you like. And here, have some cake.” ”

    – Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are, pg 104-106

    Please excuse spelling errors I may have missed.

  • Opps! “Not only do I NOT want you to go away, you can come back anytime you like. And here, have some cake.” ”

    That’s important 🙂

  • Danielle

    Thank you so much for this, Sheryl. The concept of the “adolescent mindset” has forever changed my life, and has made me see all these myths I had been holding onto, without knowing that they are myths. I have been talking to my best friends about it, and they can also relate. Letting go of the pressure I put on myself to have an inspiring life, inspirind career, inspiring everything, has made me feel so much better about the life I’m living right now, and accepting it as it is. My session with you was invaluable.

    • I’m so glad to hear it, Danielle. It’s amazing how a shift in mindset can free us to appreciate the life we’re living instead of holding onto a fantasy of the life we think we’re supposed to be living.

  • ann

    To anyone reading who identifies with this article and thinks living in New York will solve will solve all their problems of not being alive, read this. Ive been in NYC for 13 years. While I love this city, and its where I wanted to live, I very much feel ordinary and not alive, its one thing I really struggle with. And I’ve been putting the blame on my career and my partner. So Sheryls statement ” there isn’t a location or lifestyle in the world that’s going to make you feel whole and alive any more than there’s a perfect partner that’s going to make you feel whole and alive” makes me feel better about attributing my lack of aliveness to my partner. Because I can tell you its not the location!

  • Lovingkindness

    I see so much of myth #1 on Instagram, and it’s hard not to buy into it. It’s especially difficult when I crave being in the mountains and am trying to work on my photography – people with geographic proximity to mountains seem to be generally more successful at landscape/outdoor photography because the subject of their landscapes happen to be incredible. One of my first anxious thoughts was on a mountain vacation with my then-boyfriend and feeling pulled to move but held back by being with him. I’ve come a long way since then, but it’s still hard not to look longingly at those living the life where I want to live and wonder what would have happened had I moved. I know both of our jobs and living situation are holding us back from up and moving to some mountainous area, but I am well aware that it is my responsibility to live my life doing the things I love most, like spending time in nature. I haven’t been able to make as much time for it as I would like. It just seems like it would be easier to manage if the mountains were closer…..

    • While I’m sure it would be easier if you lived closer to the mountains, it’s still ultimately a life choice to prioritize spending time in nature no matter where you live. If you lived closer to the mountains, you would likely find another screen onto which you would project the fantasy of “it would be easier if…”. It’s human nature to project until we start to name it and deeply take responsibility for our lives.

  • Andie

    I love this article! I graduated from university 2 years ago and thought that once I got that dream job and moved to an exciting and innovative city (Portland, OR), I thought I would feel excited and alive all the time. the shimmer of the novelty of a new city, new job, new routine are wonderful but then it suddenly wears off and again, I am left with the reality that the same anxious thoughts and insecurities arise. I really resonate with the reality that it is soo important to solidify one’s identity and know oneself above else. At least for me, I feel like I have a lot of self-awareness but at the same time, constantly struggle with the question, “who am I when I am alone?” I am recently married and have undergone constant transition and I definitely feel stuck in some existential uncertainty.

    • It takes a long time to know ourselves deeply, and it’s what the decade of one’s 20s are about, but it sounds like you’re well on your way as evidenced by your ability to name the pattern of seeking the excitement of something new only to notice that it wears off within a few months. We can chase these new experiences indefinitely but eventually we realize that the shimmer we seek must be sourced from within.

  • Rachelle Pierson

    Sheryl!

    I look forward to your emails every Sunday. Reading your work calms my anxiety and allows me to keep moving forward in life. I LOVE how you make me realize that I can choose !!

  • Bianca Wilson

    Oh BOY Sheryl do you always seem to have these perfectly timed. I decided this year to quit my corporate job and follow my entrepreneurial dreams and start doing what actually inspired me in life. While that may spike people, there are many sacrifices that have had to come with that and I feel many of which entrepreneurs don’t always like to be open about. I myself am moving back home with my parents to get more financially stable and with almost being 30 years old I am certainly struggling with that whole “adulthood should be easier than this” or “adulthood should look different than this” battle. All of the good ol’ comparison monsters are coming out even though my rational mind knows that we are ALL dealing with something; I rationally know that life doesn’t always look how you thought it would and thats ok but that knot in my stomach and beating in my chest lets me know that societal pressures still have their claws in me. Thank you again for writing this to remind me to up my truth water especially during this move!

    • You’re absolutely right, Bianca, that the entrepreneurial culture doesn’t share the whole picture of what it’s like to forge out on one’s own. Every path in life includes challenges and gifts, and one of our tasks is to weigh them both and continue to move forward. I’m sure you’ve read this article but it touches on exactly what you’re struggling with:

      https://conscious-transitions.com/the-myth-of-a-calling/

      It’s good to hear from you and thank you for sharing!

  • E

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’m not sure how this fits in, but I have been having major struggles job my life right now due to my parents recent separation. My family found out that my father was having an affair, and the whole ordeal has been pretty traumatic. When people say that affairs and divorce are normal, it’s making me have major spikes in my doubts in my relationship with my husband. I love him very much, but it is scary to think how people can grow apart and hurt each other. How can I process this feeling of shock, betrayal, disappointment; fear of the unknown, without projecting onto my relationship? Myself (and my siblings) are having a hard time dealing with this. Even though it feels like we are supposed to be adults with our own families and provide support to our parents, I feel like a child again wanting parental stability.

    • Parents’ divorce is one of the most triggering experiences to endure no matter what your age as it shatters your entire foundation. I encourage you to honor your feelings about it while working with the shame that says “I’m supposed to be an adult and provide support to our parents.” That shame voice will interfere with your own grieving process, and it’s the grief that will help you move through this utterly heartbreaking and devastating experience without projecting onto your relationship.

    • Laura

      Hi E,

      I just wanted to reach out and say that my siblings and I are going through the same thing with our parents. They haven’t divorced but they are in an unhealthy relationship. When they are together its so tense. The affair happened for the first time when I was 7,then 22 and now again at 30 and in my first real relationship. It has spiked me everytime. Especially because I am so close to my dad and I adore him while hating him in the same space. It’s made me wonder… can any relationship be healthy? Fulfulling? Can anybody stay together and be loyal and true?

      I just wanted to reach out because reading your comment really hit me.

      Like you said “I feel like a child again wanting parental stability” I still crave the idea of my family being together and a unit and knowing I came from a happy love.

  • custard353

    Hi Sheryl,
    My husband and I have decided against having children. Having never been a child person myself and him being 50 and I 40 we kind of feel we are too late for this anyway. I however have always loved animals more than babies and young children. Also, I have always felt that not everyone should be a parent – look at all the neglected/abused children in the world. I am a person who needs her freedom and autonomy. I get very depressed and down if I am restricted. I worry because most of the people that come to CT have a desire to have children and I don’t. Does this mean that I am deluded in some way or that I am stuck in perpetual adolescence?

    • Hello,
      My husband and I have decided against having chilren too. I never pictured myself with children although, like you, I imagined myself married or in a long-term relationship. Not everyone is meant to have children and there are many other ways to bloom. I know several people who don’t have children and they are as mature, and sometimes even more, than other people with children. There are no rules it seems.

      • custard353

        Hi Suzanne thanks for your reply. So nice to hear from other people who feel the same.

        Sometimes when my relationship anxiety is quiescent, my anxiety will hang onto this instead : if I don’t have kids, I am not normal and this is why I am suffering because I am not doing what I should be doing in life. I have somehow this belief in the back of my head that I will never feel fulfilled and happy but it must be because I am not doing what normal people want to do. Then my therapist said, so what is stopping you from having a child and I said “because I don’t actually want to be trapped by a baby and I like my life as it is” and she says that I have answered my own question. Like you, when I was younger, I always wanted to meet someone who would be my best friend in life but I never really thought about kids. I think I know my answer but my anxiety keeps trying to tell me different.

      • I love this exchange between all of you, and as others have said, you’re FAR from alone in terms of not wanting to have children. As I mentioned in the article, it’s one of the common myths that keeps people stuck as there’s a very strong cultural and historical expectation to have kids, but it’s not for everyone and the work, as always, is to trust yourself and honor your path. As I often say to my coaching clients who don’t want to have kids (and there are plenty of them), there are so many ways to offer ourselves to the world, so many ways to give, and being a parent is only one of them.

        What stands out most in your comment is your very insightful awareness that anxiety is trying to hang its hat on this theme, especially with the line, “Everyone else here seems to want to have kids. This means there must be something wrong with me.” You’re calling that line out on the mat where you can work with it actively now. Bravo!

        • custard353

          Thank you so much Sheryl, your words mean a lot 🙂 I am finally starting to see how this anxiety works and how latching onto a thought is what sends us spiralling. It is all finally starting to really sink in 🙂

          • It does take a while for this information to sink in as we’re not taught how to work with the mind or the heart growing up, but once it does it’s life-changing. I’m so glad that’s happening for you.

    • SR

      Hi. My bf and I feel the same way. Neither of us have a desire to have kids. We realize that could change based on a number of factors but for now we are okay with it. I think it’s easy to buy into other people’s desires for your life that you should have kids or feel the pressure when it’s a societal norm. I think some of it is bringing love and acceptance to who you are and where your at in life.

      • custard353

        Thank you SR for your reply. As per my reply above, I am thinking that this is what my anxiety has decided to get another one of its hooks into. I have never pictured myself with kids. It is only now that I am 40 and time is running out that it is making me anxious whether it is the right decision because it might be another way that I am avoiding growing up.

        • SR

          Yeah. I hear u on all of that. Mine hit when I turned 30. I just decided I would be okay either way and with the amount of inner work I knew I had ahead of me I didn’t want to bring a little life into the world if I felt like I was barely learning to take care of myself. Plenty of my friends have opposed that tho and always say “you would be a great mom!” And while I know they are well intentioned cause they have families they love, I’m really okay with it happening or not. And I agree with Sheryl that there are so many ways to nurture and bring love to others in the world. I think anxiety too will do everything it can to make you believe lies or things that just aren’t true and it sounds like that’s what’s happening. It sounds like you’re uncovering that and I hope you continue to see more of the light shining through!

  • Rosie

    I don’t think it means that at all. I’m here and I don’t want or have children. What I want is to be able to have a relationship which I can’t because of my anxiety spikes when I’m in one which make me physically and mentally ill. I knew from being a kid that I wouldn’t be a mum although I always thought I would be married. I totally agree motherhood is not for everyone.

  • SR

    Yes. Thank you for the reminder of taking responsibility. I’ve struggled with that for quite a while, whether it be work, where I live, my relationship. The “if only this was different” spike takes hold every time or “it would be easier if.” Yet it’s starting to sink in that even if certain things were easier there would still be elements that are harder and the anxiety would find somewhere else to hang it’s hat. The more the fear falls in my relationship tho, the more I see how my boyfriend is everything I’ve wanted. I used to think there was this certain type of guy that would make me feel alive. Yet as my BFF and I were talking last night I remembered how exhausting those guys were and how what I love about my bf is that he is laidback and doesn’t take things as seriously as those other guys did. My fear also comes in the form of learning that emotions are safe and I am safe within them. As I work through that I’m reminded of the same thing. I’ve dated guys who Expressed less emotion, but w that there was fear and uncertainty there too. I say all that to say that it’s easy to avoid taking responsibility if we are always getting hooked into these different myths. Nonetheless, I’m excited to take responsibility cause I’m ready for the freedom and joy that lives on the other side. 🙂

    • You’re doing excellent inner work, SR. I hear it every time you post here and on the courses, and you’re right: at the core this is all about the ways that we avoid or accept responsibility. Thank you for sharing your insights with us!

  • greenlane

    Sheryl, your reading list and resources have saved me many times. In case you are looking for a read this season, you may resonate with “Self Observation” by Red Hawk. I don’t find the Amazon description to do it justice in the least. https://www.amazon.com/Self-Observation-Awakening-Conscience-Owners/dp/1890772925

  • Alicia B

    Sheryl,

    Thank you very much for this article. I want to recommend your material to those especially in relational uncertainty. I read your “Conscious Bride” and took your online relational course that was so helpful during my engagement. There is such peaceful wisdom and practical application. I’ve been married for 6 months today and am enjoying the imperfect process of learning to love each other every day!

    Thank you!

    Alicia Bell

  • Thank you Sheryl for another wonderful article! This resonates with me because I’ve recently had an insight that you would probably find very interesting. I had taken your relationship anxiety course (and continue to constantly review it when needed), which had helped me tremendously to conquer the fear and doubt that was crushing an otherwise amazing relationship. After getting engaged, completing your course, and really righting my mind to be happy in the relationship, a new fear emerged. My fiance and I began to look at houses and I started getting worried that if we end up in a location other than my ideal town, I just won’t be happy. I began to associate him with the fear of this move and all of the irrational thoughts (“I’m not attracted”, “I’d be better off with someone deeper and more talkative”, “I would prefer a better dresser” etc), all began to surface again.

    I realize that this is all due to my anxiety surrounding the move – however after reading this article, I felt an “aha” moment where I said to myself; wherever you end up moving, you can be happy. Once again, I was placing my own happiness on an outside factor. Which of course, linked to the relationship (as happens with this kind of anxiety), and a cycle began. How about just realizing that in general, I can be happy?! I’m in charge of my own happiness, and whatever enters my life I will approach with joy. Thinking this way helps ease some of the anxiety surrounding the move. Would you agree with this statement? Thank you for your insights!

    • I agree 100% and I also want to remind you that any time we’re in transition – and a move is a HUGE transition – feelings of loss, fear, and vulnerability are activated. When we can attend to these core feelings we circumvent the knee-jerk response of projecting them onto our partners. It sounds like you’re doing great work, and I’m so glad the Break Free course was helpful!

    • Beck

      You just described the situation I am currently in EXACTLY! I am going through the same transitions right now and having the same thoughts. Sheryl’s work and my therapist has helped me to see that all of these “fears” are a result of my own anxieties that I need to be aware of. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Marrie

    Hello, Sheryl! I love when you write about other types of anxiety/myths/issues than couple relationship. I’m always looking forward to articles like this one.
    I’m 35 and I think for me and many friends “the calling myth” around career is avery strong one. And also the myth on how to measure carrer success: it is only success if you are famous or socially recognized in your field by certain people (that each one of us think are the important ones).
    All of this is part of a culture that puts so much of our identity in our professional life. Off course, work is an imprtant dimension of our life, its how we materialy provide for ourselves/our family and for many a way to express ourselves. But for me the problem is when I identify so much with the professional character as if it was the most important one and than allow this dimension of my life to define my value as a human being in terms of how professionally “successful” I am.

    • Yes, that’s exactly right: there’s a major difference between enjoying work as a way to provide money and meaning and relying on work as a way to define your sense of self. The former is healthy and the latter is unhealthy, yet we live in a culture that sends out the message of the latter at every turn. It takes a lot of work to break through these myths, but naming them is an important first step.

  • Pascale

    Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you for this amazing article.
    The myth you chose hit close to home because i can’t count how many times I’ve moved in the past 10 years.
    My question is – how can you tell if a move (or a change of job or partner) is the right thing to do , or if it’s a projection ?
    I left Canada and moved to Israel because I wanted a more fulfilling and meaningful life and following that dream and pursuing my roots was the best thing I ever did.
    Now we live in an urban setting and my husband and I both crave a more natural set up (a move I know you made – can you please post a link to the article you wrote about this?!).
    I’m just wondering when to listen to that voice that calls for change, and when to say no, this is projection?
    Thank you!
    Pascale

    • I’m not sure which article you’re referring to, Pascale. Can you describe it more so that I can try to find it for you?

      There are no simple answers to your last question. It’s about self-trust and also knowing that there are no perfect paths in life. We make choices that have challenges and gifts, and then we live our lives and assess. It’s often about course-correcting as we’re continually getting to know ourselves and our core needs/values at deeper levels.

  • Emma

    Thank you Sheryl for this great article! I just moved to the suburbs to be closer to nature, and although this is what my husband and I wanted, I am now finding myself struggling with the exact statement you wrote 😆 our culture depicts suburban life in a very negative way, and my ego is judging our move and angry that I am not a cool young professional living in the city anymore. I actually did live in NYC for several years, and the truth is that it was nice once I made some good friend, but lonely at the beginning, LIKE ANY OTHER PLACE!!! And yet, a part of me is suddenly missing NYC… even though I moved 10 years ago. NYC gives this instant aura of ‘coolness’ to the outside world and it’s so reassuring and safe.

    ButI know it’s not really about living in the city vs the suburbs, it’s actually grieving a new layer of loss as I am getting further into adulthood (= moving to the suburbs, with our small son, probably for many many years ). The truth is that my intovert self loves nature, but my ego finds the concept of suburbs boring and despicable (= myth) and ‘be rrikagined living this kind of life.’ I have actually been revisiting your course on wedding anxiety and replaced ‘partner’ with ‘house in the suburbs’! It kind of works as the same principles are at play (loss, fear, grief, projection). I have also noticed after the move that my heart is more closed to my partner (he wanted the move more than me, or at least that’s the story my ego is making)… it will take time for me to adjust to your new life! It helps to
    Tell myself that it’s normal not to love it right away.

    Regarding Pascale’s comment, she may be referring to a blog you wrote about your house being close to a creek which brings lots of mosquitoes in the summer? I just browsed through all your articles about ‘moving ‘ recently ’ (I think it’s acategory on the blog) and this one was so helpful. It is not specifically about deciding to move closer to nature,but a reminder that no place is perfect. For me it is that the train station for my commute is a bit further than I’d like, but everytime I hear myself complaining about it,I tell myself, ‘this is your mosquito… if it wasn’t that, you’d find something else.’ I think the most powerful way to fight against the current mainstream culture is to embrace and cherish imperfection, inside out 🙂
    Lots of love and as always, thank you for your work ❤️

    • Thank you, as always, Emma, for your beautiful, insightful, and vulnerable comment. Yes, the work is the same regardless of the transition, as you’re so wisely tuning into: dismantle the myths and expectations, feel the uncomfortable feelings, reel in the projections, allow time to adjust.

      Ah, yes, I’ll have to try to find that article. Or if you have access to it, please post it here :). x

        • Pascale

          Hi Emma,
          First of all thanks so much for finding that article!
          Second, thank you for sharing your experience. I can relate to every word. That’s been one of my biggest struggles – in an urban area and big space I feel like my ego takes over and I’m on this constant to do mission, less present, less relaxed, and when I live in a more rural environment (small village or country house) yes I can breath and relax and am more present but at same time I feel alone and sorry for myself. The ego kicks in “your poor kids are growing up isolated, you need a more beautiful space, what will your family say when they visit you, you haven’t made it”. And the anxiety also kicks in. (What if I need a hospital, I’m all alone here….)
          This polarity is driving me (and my poor husband) crazy!
          I’m going to do what you wrote Emma. I’m gonna go over the relationship anxiety course again but replace with relationship with home.

          I’m so grateful for Sheryl/this blog/this community.
          Thank you so much.

          • Emma

            You’re welcome Pascale! Yes, the ego will find anything… I live abroad, so now that I moved further away from the city, my ego is saying ‘your friends and family will not visit you because, they’ll think it’s too far away from the airport and city’. This s ridiculous because I would never think that if I was visiting someone I loved!! 😉

        • Thank you, Emma! I love the dialogue between the two of you. This is also how we heal: when we’re able to expose these myths and discuss then shatter them with like-minded others.

  • Andy

    Thank you for this, Sheryl.

    I relate to both of these. The first one very strongly. It’s something that I struggle with that has caused immense unhappiness for both myself and my partner in my current relationship. And it is a lifelong struggle. I took your Trust Yourself course, which I loved. But as you said, it’s the work of a lifetime. It took me 47 years to get here. So, I try to roll up my sleeves daily. I fall on my face more than stay upright most days. It’s disappointing and frustrating. But my hope is persistence and self awareness will eventually begin to reverse these numbers. I have the dream of a sunny, SoCal, Dwell magazine existence. But that existence doesn’t just happen. And once you have it, those externals will never “fill the well” as you say. I feel that shame is at the heart of my issues. And I’m hoping that addressing this in a meaningful way might help me dismantle my own myths, both known and unknown. I’m trying A.R.T therapy currently. We’ll see where it goes. The majority of my actions feel so rooted in my subconscious that it seems like a reasonable approach.

    Thank you for all you do.

    • I hear so much self-awareness in your comment, Andy, and a deep desire to continue along on your healing path. EMDR can also help with deeply rooted, subconscious beliefs that cause shame, as can the journaling technique and visualizations that I teach and share in the Trust Yourself program.

  • Cait P

    I think one of the myths that has me stuck is that “you have to know be the best version of yourself before you’re in a relationship…”

    It’s 3:30 AM, I have anxiety during the witching hour but for some reason today I am calm and feeling insightful(in my own world). I find this myth very hard because you see it posted and written about so much. I swear, nothing stirs up our wounds like Love and the more I learn about Love the more I come closer and closer to accepting this and working through my wounds. I love the concept of we partner up with people who help us heal and I believe my boyfriend and I are still trying to find our ryrhym and I am learning (through forgetting and remembering) that it take time. I’m anxious and he’s calm but I’m really learning that relationships are designed for betterment of self, not to be the “best” but the better version. To me, best means that one is either the best or worst and once you are the best, that’s it, you’re where you will be – and having anxiety, that is very black and white thinking. When I focus on the word betterment, it seems that there is more longevity to it, the course of learning to better myself as a human is timeless effort and to me, there is a lot of beauty in it. I realize that Love requires us to move past our comfort zones and F and I both have helped each other in different ways: I help him try new things and he helps me introspect, I help him structure his life, he helps me go with the flow. Boy, it is challenging for our differences but there is willingness to improve and I’m glad helped is not in the past tense! Betterment comes with willingness and that is one of the best gifts this relationship has continued to show me.

    • Oh, Cait, I LOVE that you shared this here as it’s a myth I hear ALL THE TIME in my work and I completely disagree with it for all of the insightful reasons you shared below. We absolutely grow into our better selves through being with a loving and available partner.

      It’s reminding me of another myth: “You have to be healed before you have children.” As I say to my clients, if that were the case NOBODY would have kids! We grow THROUGH these relationships with partners, friends, children, and the expectation that we have to be healed before we enter into a relationship is absurd and damaging.

    • SR

      Hi Cait. I love your post. I also think that becoming your better self isn’t always the picture we all imagined. I know I can get really fired up about so many things in life and my boyfriend is so calm and can easily let things go, which is so good for me and for our relationship! I used to think he was supposed to get as upset as I do but I’ve seen how he balances me out and at times I help push him further. As you said, learning to work w our differences takes time but they really are a blessing!

      • Cait P

        Sheryl! Thank you for your reply! I agree with you about 75% on the dealing with our issues and healing before kids – I’m in therapy on a weekly basis to better myself and understand myself so I don’t make the same choices as my parents. Both my parents are and were wonderful growing up but I feel a lot of the emotional availability was not present in the way I needed it. I would like to understand myself a little bit better before kids come into play so that some of my hurt from my parents doesn’t affect them. 🙂 (but I know what you mean and I always love your responses)

        SR!!! Thank you for commenting on my post! Let me say, you are far from alone! I always think that my boyfriend has to react like me and that’s where I get stuck too! It’s a blessing to not be with a reactor and I’ll tell you the more I work on myself I realize that I am wired to think that reaction means love and it goes back into my childhood with my mother. I felt like her reacting(just yelling) and shutting down was love so when I don’t receive that response from F I get very scared it’s not love. The reaction for me, in a higher self, is kindness and openness and vulnerability. It’s taken me a long time to figure this out but it’s so worth it, and Sheryl, like you said, it’s beautiful when it’s presented by an available partner to show us where we need to grow. Thank you both for being kind and replying xo

        • SR

          Hi Cait. Omg yes! I could have written your response exactly. My home life was similar and I’m learning what it means to have healthy connection. If you want to exchange emails I would love to hear what you’re learning and share too. It’s always nice to know we are not alone!

          • I love this dialogue!

            And Cait, let me clarify the myth about having children. The myth says “you have to be COMPLETELY healed before you have kids”, which, of course, is impossible ;). But certainly taking time to look at oneself and one’s familial patterns before having kids is of great benefit to everyone.

            • Cait P

              Sheryl, are you able to provide SR with my email? I also understood what you meant because in reality, who is ever completely healed? We got a lot of learning to do. Completely agree with you and I am definitely trying to look at my ways and learn as much as I can! 🙂

              SR!! Going to have Sheryl give you my email! (I don’t think I can post it here) Would love to exchange stories and perspectives. You mentioned about others putting their desires for kids on you and I’m thinking oh my god I need to hear more because I am in a somewhat similar situation only I may be the one doing that! I want to hear your perspective!

  • Angie

    I think I struggle with the myth that it matters what other people think about my marriage. I get caught up in social media and think, “oh my college friends are going to know I gained 15 pounds since graduation” or “she married someone less attractive than her!”
    I want to lose the weight, but I think relationship anxiety is being used as an excuse not to commit to being healthier. My fear-spike is, “if you lose the weight, then you will feel less attracted to your partner and you’ll realize that you can be with somone more physically attractive.” It’s so silly because my husband has lost 20 pounds himself! Through therapy work, I know that i center much of my identity on my weight, and that didn’t change once I found love (I thought it would!).

    Sheryl, which e-course would be good for an inner dialogue like this? I want to work towards viewing myself and my husband outside the context of physical appearance.

  • Alison

    My myth for the past several years was that I needed to ditch my husband and go live some bohemian lifestyle where I make a living running a travel blog. The truth is, as much as I love exploring new places and the IDEA of being able to say I’ve been to such and such city or country, travel itself wipes me out and often leaves me feeling depleted. So no, being a professional travel blogger would not suit me, and I’ve finally made peace with that. It sounds so dumb saying it out loud but it took me awhile to be okay with that. I’ve also fallen prey to the myth that if I were in XX city then I’d be happier. Well, I recently moved to a city I absolutely love, my dream city, and I’m struggling! My husband and I have made no friends, we’re thousands of miles from family and friends so we have no tribe in which to raise our baby, and the weather is notorious for being a bit dreary this time of year. I’m sure we’ll adjust with time, but I always remember the words of a former therapist–wherever you go, there you are.

    • Not dumb at all, Alison. In fact, it’s one of the most common myths I hear about and I think it comes from the “Eat, Pray, Love” follow-your-bliss culture that tells you to leave an uncomfortable situation and find your “true joy” while traveling the world. It’s great that it’s being dispelled for you through moving to your dream city and realizing that struggle still exists!

  • Flynn

    Wonderfully timed, thank you so much. I am definitely dealing with the ‘location’ myth, in the exact forms that you’ve described! I love the idea of a loft in a big thriving city, where it’s just me and my writer’s tools, or travelling the world, living in crappy apartments and working in bookshops, moving on every few months. But I think about these things and then feel guilty because it would mean leaving my partner and I feel torn between what loving what I have, and wanting something ‘more’.

    I’ve come to the realisation that all these fantasies I have aren’t about the experience itself, but more about my fear of permanence, of being trapped and not having options. I’ve spent a lot of my 26 year old life choosing options that were easy to disengage from – relationships with people who were leaving the country soon anyway, jobs I could ditch at a moment’s notice, degrees that would occupy a set time then let me go again. In fact, when I met my partner I had just accepted a place to go do an MA on the other side of the country! Looking back I started seeing him with the comfort of knowing I had an out… and then fell in love, which sparked a huge amount of panic, because choices and permanence and closing off options feels so scary when you’ve spent your whole life trying to float around.

    I’m choosing to work through it though, my partner is worth it and I’m working to get to a space where I recognise that the artfully lived life is something I can create wherever I am, and I need to make space for the normal, because everything becomes normal eventually. It is trying to wriggle away from normal that stops me finishing important things, and making progress in areas that I’m passionate about (chasing the next big novel idea when the spark of the current one has worn off) I have a lot of work to do, but this article really brought home to me that actually this is something a lot of people deal with, I’m not broken, I’ve just fallen into a common trap. Thank you x

    • Beautiful, Flynn, and so much wisdom here, like this: “I’ve come to the realisation that all these fantasies I have aren’t about the experience itself, but more about my fear of permanence, of being trapped and not having options.” Part of this, I believe, is a result of a generation that is built upon an expectation of instant gratification and which almost breeds a lack of commitment. The culture is telling you constantly, “You can have it all and you don’t have to settle,” which isn’t reality.

      And I love this: “I’m working to get to a space where I recognise that the artfully lived life is something I can create wherever I am, and I need to make space for the normal, because everything becomes normal eventually.” So wise and true.

  • Monica

    Great post, Sheryl! Thanks a lot 🙂
    My reply comes a bit late, but lately I’ve been going through the myths around adulthood and independence. I moved back with my parents almost 2 years ago and that has made me feel terrible as in “I’ll never be an adult” and “other people my age have it all figured out by now” (I’m 25). I know I’m not a burden to them, they actually like having me at home, I pretty much take care of myself in every aspect, but I keep feeling stuck and longing dreaming of my independent life and dreading it will never come, but I wouldn’t like to make a hasty decision leaving home without a plan. Does your comment about “there’s no location and lifestyle” also apply to an adult child living with parents?

    Thanks!!!

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