“The Wisdom of Anxiety” is Coming Down the Birth Canal

by | May 12, 2019 | Anxiety | 48 comments

In April 2015, I had a dream while on vacation in Los Angeles: Robert Johnson, the Jungian analyst who has informed so much of my work, came to me and said, “It’s time to write another book and it’s mostly written.” I woke up, faithfully wrote it down as I do with most of my dreams, then filed it away in some far-back recess of my mind.

I had no desire or intention to write another book at that time in my life. I was happy seeing clients and creating courses, and the idea of a book felt draining and daunting. Mostly, I knew that when I did write another book I would have to be prepared to leave the safety and solitude of our quiet life and re-enter the world in a bigger way, and I wasn’t ready to do that. My primary focus at that time was still very much my children. They were 6 and 10 years old, and I knew I wasn’t ready to separate out from them quite yet.

Time passed. My kids got older and more independent. As I’ve said many times with motherhood, especially to new mothers who are submerged in the underwater overwhelm of those early months and years when kids’ needs are high and paramount, with each notch of their own independence, you gain a little piece of your own self back.

So I waited. I tracked my dreams. I noticed an interesting longing arise from time to time: the longing for a third child. But as I’ve written about on this blog, my husband and I both knew that we were done at two. Still, longing and knowing are often two separate streams, and I knew that if I followed the longing down the river of its becoming instead of taking it at face value (ie – we have to have another baby) I would arrive at the core.

What am I longing to birth? I asked myself. What creative passion is longing to gestate in the womb of my being? I wondered. As a woman, it’s so easy to siphon off all of our longing for creative experience and expression into conceiving a child, birthing a child, then raising a child. We mistakenly believe that we will feel fully fulfilled through the path of mothering. But it isn’t so. Our children can occupy centerstage for a period of time, as they must, but eventually the spark of our own soul longs to be lit into flame. We long to dance at the water’s edge with the muse of our imagination. We long to stand in the fields, painting out our dreams.

Eventually, it became clear that what was longing to be born was another book. As soon as I opened the door for conception, the words began to pull at the edges of my dreams. They stirred in the beginnings of consciousness. And as if to confirm the tug, nearly the minute I reached out to a friend to ask about the possibility of editing (I was considered self-publishing), she connected me with an editor at Sounds True, and everything inside of me sang yes to the prospect of this publisher being the home for my next book. I had followed their work for over two decades, and their MP3s has shaped my psyche and path in many ways.

Still, I delayed. As it goes with the birthing process, there are contractions and expansions, and I watched myself contract almost immediately after having lunch with the editor as I realized that I still wasn’t ready to leave the womb of our home. And when I say “leave” I don’t necessarily mean literally leave, as writing a book these days doesn’t require as much travel as it once did. What I mean is transferring my focus, which had been primarily on my kids for so many years, back onto myself and a new “baby.” But eventually, as I listened and dreamed and wrote, the expansion rose inside of me and I knew that the time had come. I wrote to the editor at Sounds True, we started the proposal process, the contract was signed, and I threw myself full-heartedly into the writing process.

As Robert Johnson said, the book in its basic framework was, indeed, mostly written. The reality is that the seed for had started to gestate twenty-six years ago when, at the age of twenty-one, the god Pan swept me into his wild forest in the form of my first panic attack. Pandemonium ensued, which was exactly the plan, and the beginning of a life’s work was born. I’ve spent the last ten years writing a weekly blog post, which has synthesized disparate elements of my work around transitions, relationship anxiety, and anxiety in general, and I thought my “mostly written” book would easily receive my editor’s first stamp of approval.

But when I submitted the first draft, which was a patchwork compilation of many blog posts, she said, “The content is fantastic, but it doesn’t hold together. You need to weave it into a book now.” (She said it much more poetically than that :)). I breathed into the initial feeling of overwhelm and all of the accompanying voices of resistance that wanted to tell me that I couldn’t do it and dove headfirst into the material.

And that’s when this baby was truly and joyfully born. I wrote late into the night, moon and stars as my guides. I awoke with the sunrise fire of creativity lighting up my soul, and I wrote. Sentences dropped whole as if from clouds, transitions between sections became clear against the blue sky of my mind, and images pushed like bulbs pushing through the ground of being. Once surrendered, the writing flowed deliciously through from bone to blood to heart to hand and onto the screen. I sent back a draft a few weeks later and we knew it was a yes.

Eighteen months later and the book, The Wisdom of Anxiety: How Worry and Intrusive Thoughts are Gifts to Help You Heal, is now a few weeks away from its May 28th official birthday.

I hope you will join me as we welcome this book into the world. Over the past several weeks, as the birthday approached, I’ve imagined the book with wings flying into the hearts and souls of anyone who would benefit from the words. As one of my dear clients said to me last week: “I’m seeing the books in their boxes, excited to come into the world.” I loved that image, and later that night I wrote a prayer-letter to the books, imagining them shimmering excitedly in their boxes, ready to deliver their messages.

If you would like to join me in this celebration and release the books from their boxes, the best way to purchase and support my work is through Amazon, as it helps the pre-order algorithm kick into gear, which you can do here. If you would like to order from another bookseller, you can do so through any of the links that appear on this page.

Dear readers, clients, and course members: Thank you for your support over the years. As I say in the acknowledgements, this book would not exist without you, for while the seed began to gestate all those years ago, much of what you’ll read in these pages stems from your willingness to share your heart and soul so vulnerably with me over the years. Alongside my children and my Jungian guides, you have been my greatest teachers, and it is my deepest wish that anyone who suffers with anxiety and intrusive thoughts will benefit from the wisdom that we have gleaned together.

With so much love,

Sheryl

48 Comments

  1. So so so happy for you Sheryl and congrats !!!
    I cannot wait to have your new book on my bedside table ! Coming a cross your work was like heaven sent and im just so grateful for you and your work! I know im not quite out of the woods yet but i know im god damn close !!! I have always know how much i love my dear man, the truest and purest love of my life but when anxiety took over it really clouded all of that for a very long time.
    So thank you again ! Your hard work,wisdom and insights are things what have transformed me!

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    • I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing well, Carmen! Thank you for your beautiful words :).

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  2. I love how eloquently you teach us lessons through your own life lessons. It’s so kind and brave of you to share the vulnerability of your own feelings and challenges so you can change the lives of your readers through your own breakthroughs. Thank you for that, Sheryl. Since you mentioned how important your dreams have been in this birthing process, I can’t help but to ask a question about many of my own recent dreams. No matter if they are bad nightmares about horrible, giant cockroaches, or dreams about my nonexistent grandma’s new, young boyfriend who hacked my Spotify account, or about me talking to my boss about my mom’s health, I always seem to be crying uncontrollably and desperately in all my dreams. What would be a good way to approach/interpret these dreams?

    (PS. As a 30 year old woman that doesn’t want to have babies, I love this quote! “As a woman, it’s so easy to siphon off all of our longing for creative experience and expression into conceiving a child, birthing a child, then raising a child. We mistakenly believe that we will feel fully fulfilled through the path of mothering. But it isn’t so.”)

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    • I recommend two books to help with dreamwork: “The Wisdom of Your Dream” by Jeremy Taylor and “Inner Work” by Robert Johnson. I’ll also be devoting an entire module to dreamwork in my upcoming 9-month long course, Break Free From Anxiety, which will likely start in September 2019.

      And thank you for your kind words about my work. I don’t know of any other way to teach than through vulnerability :).

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  3. I look forward to the book. Your work really gave me the framework for how to be more myself. ♥

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    • That’s so good to hear, Eleonora.

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  4. This is such a beautiful post, Sheryl. I’m looking forward to reading your words in book form in a few weeks. You are so insightful and have a lovely way with words, and I’m sure your book will be fantastic.

    I’m thankful for your loving tenderness and for taking anxiety treatment a step further by tending to the feelings embedded in the thoughts, which have often been squashed and silenced for so many years, by others as well as ourselves. Your work was the lifeline that brought me to deeper self-awareness, and put into language thoughts and feelings that, in the thick of my panic, I didn’t dare mention to anyone. Everyday you teach me (and many others) to say “YES” to risk, to love, and to living to our full potential – with our Self, not anxiety, in the driver’s seat. And that’s such a gift.

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    • Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection, A. Your recent support in the comments section has been a lifeline to many, and a testament to how much you’ve grown through your struggle.

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      • Now that I’m committed to doing the work and am truly on the healing path – instead of standing near the path but not beginning – I feel compelled to help those who are in their dark night. I’m slowly but surely finding my way out – and the first but crucial step to my real progress was taking the hyper-focused microscope that I have placed on my partner for years and turning it back on myself, attending to my own goals and growth, providing my own happiness, and extending compassion to him and myself.

        Healing is both cerebral and emotional – learning to effectively manage and work with faulty thinking while attending to all emotional experiences.

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  5. Purchased!!! And with so much excitement, I await more warm words from you. I love the fact that my book will come through the door, already blessed with a prayer.

    Best of luck with it X

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    • Thank you, dear Ruth! Blessed books are awaiting release from their boxes! xoxo

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  6. So very excited for you Sheryl! And can’t wait to read your book – preordered!

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  7. I’ve had this book on pre-order for months and I cannot wait to receive it!

    As a follower of your work for many years, I just can’t wait to see what this also brings me!

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    • Thank you, Amanda! I’ll be excited to hear about what new insights the book brings.

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  8. So so happy to read this post! Your insight and words have changed the course of my life through allowing me to find the source of my anxiety and instead of running- face my fears head on. This launched me into the greatest chapter of any life I could have imagined.

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  9. Just ordered it! Can’t wait to read it. Thank you for your good work in the world.

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  10. Hi Sheryl Thank you for sharing. Your writing is like a message for me to take heart.

    I’m back from a retreat only a week or so ago and I feel anxious and totally out of sorts even with my deliberate commitment to my meditations each morning. My energy was slowly shrinking and all the “should’s n ought to’s” had been creeping in affecting me and my work and my enjoyment of life.

    I believe I’m birthing something though I do not know what. Maybe, it is more like I’m do not feel ready to acknowledge that I could be birthing something within and I and am resisting the process.

    Something in your sharing your journey and process resonates much.

    Thank you again.

    Btw I have already ordered 2 copies.

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    • Gennet: We don’t always know what we’re birthing, and often it’s a process of waiting and listening until we catch the glimpse of a seed while also paying attention to any voices of resistance that may be blocking the communication. With patience and attention, it will be revealed. Thank you for supporting the book!

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  11. Sheryl, your words have a way of birthing humans that resound with the song of their freedom and wholeness. I think I speak for many in saying that we agree with your heart for this “baby”, receive it with joy, and support you in sending it into the world to become what it is meant to be. Mazel tov!! xo

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    • And your words humble me every single time. Thank you. xo

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  12. So so happy for you! Pre-ordered mine awhile ago from Amazon and cannot wait to dive into it. Every day, but especially on Mother’s Day, I am so grateful for your compassion, wisdom and guidance. I don’t know where I would be without you. xoxoxo

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    • Thank you, dear Sarah. You are a profound blessing to this community, especially the forum, and I, too, and deeply grateful for YOU! xoxo

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  13. I just preordered. Thanks for the gift of your work.

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  14. Very happy for you Sheryl! Congratulations. Hope many many more people benefit from your timeless wisdom like many of us did/do/will continue to do. Best wishes. Will definitely buy purchase the book.

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  15. Wonderfully written post. Thank you so much for your work! and congrats on this new book. I took your Break free from anxiety last fall. Within a few weeks only it shifted my entire perspective on many things and really helped me go deeper in the relationship with my husband. I still have anxiety but I can say today that I relationship anxiety free :-! Your work is touching so many people. I am French and I recommend it to all my english-speaking friends who struggle with the themes you cover.

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    • This is so good to hear, Suzanne, and thank you for your support! Hopefully the book will be translated in French soon :). x

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      • I cannot wait to read your book, Sheryl!

        I am French too and I am very happy to learn that it will be translated. I am planning to offer it to my father and I know that he will appreciate it more in his mother’s tongue.

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  16. Such a great news!! Congratulations Sheryl. I preordered your book months ago, thanks for being so brave and let your message be seen and shared with the world. The world needs the love, compassion and truth in it. Cant wait to read.
    Big hugs for u

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    • Thank you, Marina. I just watched Brene Brown’s show on Netflix and she talks a lot about being brave when we “step into the arena.” Thank you for cheering me on :). x

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  17. I just ordered the book and am very excited to read it when it arrives! Massive congratulations on this new project, and it is amazing that more people globally will have access to your offering, your wisdom, your depth, your poetry. My wish is that everyone benefits as deeply as I have from your work over the years. Thank you Sheryl. x

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    • Thank you so much, Katrina! A prominent UK publisher just bought the rights so the book should be more readily available there as well. xo

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  18. What a beautiful post from such a beautiful person!! I am so excited to get my copy of this book…As I’ve said many times to you – your vulnerability, your ability to relate it to others and offer guidance has truly changed and enhanced my life and my marriage (as well as my relationship with my kids). You came along in a time of extreme anxiety when I had just birthed identical twins at 41 years of age..and helped me learn to go within to gain understanding and love for myself. I don’t know where I’d be without you. I love you!!!

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    • Thank you, dear Jen. I love you, too!

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  19. Absolutely loved this post! I pre-ordered a few weeks ago. Thank you, Sheryl for always sharing your thoughts and teachings throughout the years. I’ve been a reader since 2013 and appreciate your weekly blog so much. When I see your email, it’s a reminder for me to look inward and pretty sure without fail I’ve been doing just that with your blog posts by Tuesday at the latest! 🙂 I can’t think of any blog post I haven’t read! I know the 20 minutes or so each week I spend has accumulated in ample healing within myself and self-awareness. Can’t wait for your book!!
    The notion of longing to birth your creativity and imagination is so on-point. I’ve actually had longings to become a mother too, but my rational mind knows my husband and I are not ready for the huge responsibility of parenthood yet. Reading this post is like the light bulb going on in my head! Like “Oh, that’s what the message is!!” 🙂

    Reply
    • Ah, I’m so glad the post lit a bulb around this essential question, and I’ll look forward to hearing about the new birth that is longing to arrive! Thank you for being a loyal reader over the years. Your comments on the blog are always full of love and gems. xo

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  20. What a truly beautiful dream you had, Sheryl! I always feel so enchanted and overwhelmed whenever I witness the power of our subconscious minds talking to us through dreams, symbols, metaphors. I’m sure it was a beautiful experience for you. I’m really excited to read your next “baby”, I’m sure I will learn so much from it 🙂 I’d also **love** to meet you in person, buy unfortunately I live very, very far from the USA – Italy, specifically. Still, I’ll be there with my heart and soul and I am so happy for you and your successes. Always an inspiration for me 🙂 Congratulations, truly! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you for your loving support, Giorgia!

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  21. Sheryl, so excited about the book. I’ll definitely order one, I’ll keep it on my bedside table.
    Thank you!

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    • Thank you, Georgina! I’ll imagine it happily living on your bedside table :). xo

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  22. Sheryl, thank you for all your work. I found your work in the summer of 2015 and have read your blog weekly since then (and taken 2 of your courses). The weekly blog posts keep me reminded and focused on this important work. I don’t comment often– but I am always thinking, processing, and absorbing the posts. I found your work when I was in the midst of wedding/marriage anxiety and have successfully found my way through that and now continue my work in many other ways. 🙂 I have dealt with different levels of anxiety throughout my life and sought out different resources for support– never really finding what I needed. Finding your work and this community of other sensitive/creative/anxious individuals has been a gift to me. Sending gratitude to you and everyone in the Conscious Transitions world. I’ve pre-ordered and very much look forward to reading your book. Congratulations on this exciting milestone.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience with my work; your words have touched me deeply. Sending much love.

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  23. I was very happy to find out “The Wisdom of Anxiety” is also available in e-book! And very glad that I can support your work by buying it (I’ve been following the blog for few years, mostly in the bad times). All the best to you, Sheryl, can’t wait to read the book!

    Reply
    • Yes, and soon it will be available on audio as well!

      Reply

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