We are not taught to meet life on life’s terms. Left to ourselves, we have this nifty little defense mechanism called an ego that will shift and move and invent and convince in order to remove us from meeting life square in the eye. All of the ego’s intrusive thoughts and fear-based schemes are, in fact, finely crafted and often convincing escape hatches designed to remove us from touching the raw places that define being human: our loneliness, pain, fear, uncertainty, and transcendence.
I work with pregnant women who have the thought “I don’t care about this new life.” I work with people in loving relationships who are dragged down the rabbit hole of anxiety by the thought, “I don’t love him/her.” I work with new mothers who become terrified by the thought directed toward their baby, “I hate you.” Because we’re not taught how to work with our thoughts effectively in this culture, the only choice the untrained mind has is to believe the thoughts and take them at face value. None of these thoughts are literal. They’re like dream symbols that have to read as metaphor. They’re sneaky defense mechanisms that protect us from the profound vulnerability of loving someone as fiercely as we do, sentries that try in vain to protect us from the uncertainty of life.
To read the rest of this blog, please see my book, The Wisdom of Anxiety: How Worry and Intrusive Thoughts are Gifts to Help You Heal (Sounds True, May 2019).