As much as I love offering a deep dive into specific topics through my courses, it pleases me enormously to also offer the resource of this blog, where I can freely and regularly share both my personal and psychological musings, insights, and tools. The blog is a way that I remain in reciprocal relationship with my readers, a weekly opportunity to say hello with more depth and breadth than social media platforms allow. Whether I’m writing about parenting or health anxiety or relationship anxiety or transitions, I try to slow and simmer down into the heart of my soul so that I can offer something meaningful to the ever-expanding conversation available on the Internet
But when you’re suffering from your specific brand of anxiety, it can feel overwhelming to sift through almost 700 posts. So for today, instead of offering something new, I am collating the most important posts on relationship anxiety. You can find a Relationship Anxiety Collection here, which I created the last time my team and I did a blog makeover in 2018, but there have been many posts on relationship anxiety since then that elucidate some of the key mindsets and practices that can help you break free.
Here’s my work with relationship anxiety in a nutshell, including links to the most recent posts that elucidate the core concepts:
Relationship anxiety is a portal into deeper layers of anxiety, pain, and wounds that have lived in you for a long time. In other words, this is unlikely the first time you’ve experienced anxiety.
Relationship anxiety, like all forms of anxiety, is both a projection and a protector: intrusive thoughts and mind-spins are your unconscious’ way of projecting what needs attention onto the screen of your partner and when you’re stuck in anxiety your heart is protected, which means anxiety is doing its job: keeping you safe from taking the risk of loving.
The most difficult aspect of this work is recognizing that anxiety is a projection because the anxious mind is deeply attached to the question: But what if it’s true? What if this isn’t relationship anxiety but it’s actually my truth? This is the million-dollar question, and when you remain fused to this question you successfully avoid taking full responsibility for your inner world.
The number one reason why people are afraid to do the deeper work is because they’re afraid of what they’ll find, either about themselves or about their partner. They’re afraid that they’ll discover that their deep down truth is that they have to leave the relationship. This fear, in itself, is one way that you know that you’re suffering from relationship anxiety, for why would you be scared of discovering that you want to leave unless you really don’t want to leave?!?
What you’ll actually discover when you turn inward are the fears that barricade your heart and prevent you from loving deeply. When you soften these fears, you find more love, not less. You’ll discover that these fears often show up as some form of the “enough” question: “Is my partner enough?” which often flip-flops into, “Am I enough?” These two poles reflect our core attachment fears around abandonment and enmeshment. Most of us have a combination of both. This is one of the essential questions that lives inside relationship anxiety, as well as one of the most powerful healing opportunities.
Another key element to breaking free from relationship anxiety and rewiring the anxious brain is learning how to respond differently to the initial trigger and not latch onto first-response interpretations. I explain this concept here.
This is the piece that many therapists miss: working in the realm the heart. We cannot heal if we’re not willing to feel, and yet many therapeutic modalities attempt to bypass the messiness of the heart and only work with the mind. While it’s essential to correct cognitive distortions and learn how to respond effectively to our thoughts, we do not heal in the mind alone. Healing happens in the heart.
Lastly, people often ask me about the difference between relationship anxiety and ROCD. Here’s how I see it.
I hope that’s helpful. Of course, if you’re ready to take a deep-dive into your inner work through the portal of relationship anxiety, consider my Break Free From Relationship Anxiety Course. But many people have found healing from this blog alone, and I intend to keep writing it for as long as the muse taps on my shoulder.
Thank you for reading. I’m so glad you’re here.