This Is a Roadmap to Break Free From Anxiety at Last

by | Sep 5, 2021 | 9-Month, Anxiety | 34 comments

“There are many therapists and coaches out there who are a lot of fluff and flash without a lot of substance – but Sheryl is the real deal! I’m a tough customer (a type A, lawyer, perfectionist), and this course really exceeded my expectations!” – Tracey, Los Angeles 

We spend at least fifteen years in school learning the skills that our culture has deemed essential for a certain type of success in the world. We learn how to read. We learn the basics of math. We learn how to write. If we’re lucky, there’s some art and theater thrown in, but we receive the message that these aren’t the “real skills” we need to succeed.

Because we are a culture that values intellect over heart and mind over body, we are hyper-focused on the tangible and scientific aspects of what it means to be human. As such, we fail to teach children the basic tools and information of well-being that could radically change their lives and, paradoxically, increase their productivity. We not only “teach to the test” but we teach to the intellect, ignoring the heart, body, and soul. This comes at a great cost.

For example, if we learned early on that anxiety is a messenger and not evidence of brokenness, how much energy would be freed up for a young child who is obsessively focused on death and could now channel that energy into their passion? How much does this squandered energy carryover into adulthood when anxiety eats away the capacity to be a fully present and productive human being?

If we learned that just because you have a thought that doesn’t mean it’s true, how much space would open toward growing the compassionate heart instead of being stuck on the endless hamster wheel of intrusive thoughts?

And, perhaps most importantly, if we learned early in life that to feel deeply is to be human, that joy and pain live in the same chamber of the heart, that high sensitivity is a gift not a liability and the highly sensitive person grieves more deeply through life as they’re attuned to every change, how much less anxiety and more emotional fluidity would there be in our world that would then give rise to more kindness, both to ourselves and others?

What a different world we would be living in if the basic tenets of well-being were folded into every educational curriculum and parenting paradigm.

The Roadmap You Never Received

As it is, we’re thrust into adulthood without the principles, mindsets, and tools that could help us navigate the inner world with more acceptance and bring our gifts into the outer world.

We don’t learn how to feel our feelings.

We don’t learn the truth about thoughts.

We don’t learn how to work with resistance and what it really means to take responsibility (not just the kind of responsibility that makes you a “good” student because you always turn in your homework on time).

We don’t learn the true basics of physical self-care and how to harness the wisdom of our dreams, these guideposts that are dropped into our soul inbox nightly.

And because we value competition over cooperation, we don’t learn that connection is essential to wellness, and that without deep and lasting friendship we’re walking through life with half a heart.

I’ve received email requests for years to bring my work into the education system. I’m not called to do that quite yet, but what I have been called to do is create a 9-month roadmap for adults: the curriculum that you should have received in school. Nine months is one school year, and it’s also the time it takes to shed aspects of yourself that are no longer serving you so that you can birth the new parts that are waiting to be born. I’m so excited to be offering you that roadmap now.

A Map with a Guide

It’s not only a roadmap. This roadmap comes with a guide, which is me ;).

When I say that I am your guide, I don’t mean that I’ll be giving you answers. As I write about in The Wisdom of Anxiety, there are no answers, there are only guideposts to your own inner wisdom. Through this course, you’ll be learning and re-learning the mindsets and tools that will help you attend to anxiety’s flares and heal from the root. I’ll be with you every step of the way, a midwife of soul along your journey of discovery. I’ll be shining the light of compassion and support until you find your own lamplights along the labyrinthian maze of Self and your own compass on the tumultuous seas of inner work.

As part of the course, I will also be offering ample opportunities to connect with like-minded learners off the screen in real time and, in this way, meet one of the root causes of anxiety: the rampant disconnection in our culture today.

This is More Than a Course; It’s a Community

In the feedback I received after the first two rounds, participants repeatedly talked about how the community aspects of the course were among the most impactful. Many members formed deep friendships that have outlived the length of the course (several small groups are now meeting regularly with each other), while other members found healing through the group coaching calls. As Tracey shared (you can read her full testimonial on this page):

My favorite part of the class were the group calls where Sheryl provides one-on-one support to individual callers. She provides more insight in a 15-minute conversation then any therapist I’ve ever worked with over the course of weeks or months. Also, it was incredibly helpful to hear about what other individuals are struggling with, and I was really surprised about how much I could relate to every single caller’s experience. It’s often difficult to recognize your own struggles/limiting beliefs/etc, but by listening to other callers, I could more objectively understand the points Sheryl was bringing up and then connect the dots to my own life.

Sheryl creates the most welcoming, safe and open environment so that each caller feels that they can be vulnerable and it was always incredibly beautiful and touching to hear each caller’s stories. In a world where we hear such negative news every day, I always walked away from the calls thinking that people are sensitive and beautiful creatures. Also, if you are a highly sensitive person, each call was like someone else was reading your mind and that this group of people act and feel the exact same way you do. It was incredibly validating and comforting to know there are others that think identically to the “weird” way you think and live all around the world from big cities, small towns, and even other countries.

There are many therapists and coaches out there who are a lot of fluff and flash without a lot of substance – but Sheryl is the real deal! I’m a tough customer (a type A, lawyer, perfectionist), and this class really exceeded my expectations!

What it Means to Break Free From Anxiety

When I say “breaking free from anxiety” I don’t mean that anxiety will never return. That’s like saying that you’ll never have a dehydration headache again just because you learn about the importance of drinking enough water. Just like the headache is the symptom alerting you to a physical need, so anxiety is a symptom – a distress flare – alerting you to places that need attention on your inner realms.

What I mean by breaking free is that you’ll be able to work effectively with anxiety instead of anxiety working on you. You’ll learn how to decode anxiety’s messages and break free from its stronghold so that you’re not caught endlessly on the hamster wheel of intrusive thoughts. You’ll gain highly effective tools for working with resistance so that you can commit to the daily tools, which are essential for well-being. And when you get stuck, we’ll be there to catch you. You don’t have to feel alone with your healing.

The third round of this course will begin on Sunday, September 19, 2021. You can learn more and sign up here (spots are already filling fast). Many of your questions will be answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section on this page, but if you have additional questions pleases ask them either below or on the course page. I very much look forward to meeting you there.

34 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. I am a very keen follower of yours as well as being in analysis for the last four years. My go-to obsessive thought for the last year is that I should be following a more ‘scientifically validated’ model for OCD and that by not doing so I am a failure and a coward. I am slowly learning, I think, about different types of evidence, including that which comes from within. I loved the Lionel Corbett video you posted the other month.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, JS, and I’m glad that you’re starting to trust that there isn’t one right way to heal.

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      • Thanks. I still have trouble accepting that thugs aren’t black and white, as the OCD literature is quite dogmatic and insistent. (I should probably stop reading the literature)

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        • Sorry things, not thugs!

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        • Heya Sheryl,

          I am loving some of the amazing content you a providing.

          I have been with my partner almost a year and since out first date have found my fondness and love for him fluctuate and have second guessed myself A LOT! On paper he is the perfect person and man and he is so wonderful to me…and at times i truly love him… other time he grosses me out and i find i want to change him (judgement issues)… is this all part of relationship anxiety?! At what point do you think… is this enough?! Is there more out there for me?!
          I will note he is my first long term partner….

          I just want to be certain…im so scared of being unhappy and ending in divorce.

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        • JS, I am relating to you so much right now. I keep worrying “what if I’m doing this wrong?” Or “what if I can’t heal?” If I don’t do the “scientific gold-standard OCD diagnosis and treatment”, but at the same time you’re right. Every time I hear “ERP is the gold-standard” I get a little ugh feeling because it doesn’t feel right to me. Sheryl’s posts on Instagram and her blog posts are really the only ones that actually seem to calm me down because it actually makes more sense to me than “oh that’s just a glitch and there’s ONE way to treat it.” That’s like saying “biologics are the gold-standard (subtext only) way to treat ulcerative colitis and anyone who doesn’t prescribe them, RUN!” I’ve never taken biologics in my life, I’ve had UC for 22 years, and I’ve been in remission for what feels like 11 of those years. *knock wood*

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  2. Your work is more than needed in the education system!

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  3. Hey Sheryl!!

    When having anxiety, can your anxious/fear brain force you to physically react?

    I’ll give an example:

    A few nights ago my girlfriend asked me if I want a break because of my anxiety. I like physically felt a pre-crying sort of motion with my chest. Like an emotional gasp, then I started crying. For some reason though, it felt almost forced. That emotional gasp before I started crying felt forced and as if I was just trying to seem like I was sad so she wouldn’t get hurt or something.

    Can my anxious brain just be tricking me into thinking I’m not actually sad so it’s further evidence I should leave or is that REAL proof I don’t care?

    I don’t know if that made sense, but thanks so much!

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  4. Iʻm so excited for this course I canʻt wait to start! Everything in this post resonated with me so much. I knew I had to take this course and signed up, but didnʻt articulate the why until reading through this post and nodded along “yep, yep, this is why Iʻm doing this” lol. It didnʻt occur to me that for some reason the schooling mentality (and even how society approaches employment and work) are related to creating the conditions for anxiety, intrusive thoughts and everything you describe! I see why the schooling & good-student analogies are used because they seem to have a big influence. Especially the perfectionism thing, which I had a very strong perfectionism identity that I think I truly let go now and donʻt need it to feel secure. Iʻm really looking forward to this journey!! 🙂

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    • I can’t wait to connect with you there! It’s going to be a beautifully sensitive and thoughtful group of people and of course you’ll fit right in :).

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  5. When working with intrusive thoughts in relation to my boyfriend, I find myself asking “What is this thought protecting me from feeling?” but then I can’t really find an answer and that makes me really anxious because what if my truth is that I don’t really love/like him. Is this normal?

    Thanks!!

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    • Yes, when you’re disconnected from your emotions and have lived in your head for a long time it can be a difficult question to answer. And you’re not looking for an answer so much as an invitation to drop down of your head and come into your body. Just asking the question is part of the healing.

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  6. Hi Sheryl,

    I know this may be a random question. I am currently reading your book and have thought about prayer to help guide me through my relationship anxiety. Have you got any suggestions or any websites that may have prayers regarding this issue.

    Thanks
    Lia

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    • Prayer is very personal and it needs to relate to you directly – not something imposed by something outside of you. As such, I recommend exploring prayers for your ancestral lineage, poetry, psalms. If you’re looking for in-depth guidance to help you create your own spiritual roadmap, take a look at my Grace Through Uncertainty course.

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      • Thank you so much your response Sheryl! Much appreciated 🙂

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        • Hey Sheryl!

          What is the time commitment weekly for this course? Sounds like a great program!

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          • Hi Katie! Good question. It takes a few minutes to read the daily email and I recommend growing a daily journaling or meditation practice, which can be anywhere from 5-20 minutes. If you choose to participate in a small group those generally meet once a week for two hours. Then there are the group coaching calls that meet approximately once every two weeks for an hour (these are all recorded). The videos and MP3s can be watched/listened to at your convenience. So there’s a wide range of commitment and people typically find the rhythm that works best for them.

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  7. Does this work apply to teenagers in their high school years? Especially your work on intrusive thoughts and relationships? I’ve been curious about my son.

    Thank you, Sheryl.

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    • This work absolutely applies to teenagers but I would recommend starting with my book The Wisdom of Anxiety to see if it resonates with your son.

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      • He started reading it last night. He really enjoys it. He’s been having lots of anxiety with his girlfriend as you describe on your blog posts. I’m so happy he’s found a lifelong partner so young.

        The days when it started to flare up were terrible for him. He was crying for hours and saying, “I don’t want to lose her.” in the most pained voice I’ve ever heard. It broke my heart. I’m sure you can relate as a mother if this were to happen to your son(s).

        One more question: Should there be a sense of feeling that the inner work isn’t really working and not helping and a sense of not wanting to do it?

        Once again thank you, Sheryl. You’re giving my son hope.

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        • Yes, that’s all normal. Make sure he reads through the chapter on relationship anxiety at the end of the book.

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        • Your son might be interested to know that my relationship anxiety started with my girlfriend when I was 18. I thought I was going crazy, and that I had to end the relationship. At the time I had no idea that other people went through what I was going through – I genuinely felt I was unique (in a bad way). Anyway, I broke up with that girlfriend just to end the torture of the anxiety and to get away from the person I thought was causing it. Sure enough, my anxiety surfaced again in my next relationship, when I was 21. I ended that relationship too, and was single for the next 6 years. I eventually met my now wife, and, yep – relationship anxiety struck again! But I was determined to ride it through this time. The message I would give your son is this: anxiety is not a sign that the relationship is wrong! It would show up whoever he was with, and is a sign that he needs to work on himself, not throw in the towel on his girlfriend.

          I really hope this helps.x

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          • Wow, thank you, JB! My son just read the comment and smiled so wide. He is only 16 and quite the go-getter. He found this website on his own actually! He is determined to work this out now because he wants things to last with his current girlfriend. He is very mature for his age. He and his girlfriend read Gary Chapman’s love languages book together actually. He is more put together than most people in their 20s are when it comes to love!!! It’s funny, but amazing to see how committed they are to each other.

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  8. Hi Sheryl,

    My boyfriend and I are starting to have to spend less time talking to one another because he needs to start having a tighter focus on school so his mental health/depression doesn’t derail his school work and leave him falling behind. I am totally okay with this, but I’m worried our dynamic will shift and he will change into someone I don’t love or we’ll grow apart and fall out of love since we won’t be together as much. Do you have any advice on this?

    You are the absolute best, Sheryl. Thank you for everything you’re doing.

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    • Wow, thank you, JB! My son just read the comment and smiled so wide. He is only 16 and quite the go-getter. He found this website on his own actually! He is determined to work this out now because he wants things to last with his current girlfriend. He is very mature for his age. He and his girlfriend read Gary Chapman’s love languages book together actually. He is more put together than most people in their 20s are when it comes to love!!! It’s funny, but amazing to see how committed they are to each other.

      Reply
  9. Dear Sheryl,

    I came across your work via the Holistic Psychologist’s course. I just started reading your book and the resources on your site. Do you recommend finishing your book before taking the break free from anxiety course or could I take it while still reading it?

    Thank you so much.
    Sabrina

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    • Sabrina: You can absolutely continue reading the book while taking the course :). – Sheryl

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  10. Hi Sheryl,

    I’m currently in your Mother Wound course and enjoying it very much. I have generalized anxiety and am in the process of trying to get my driver’s license. I am absolutely terrified of driving and have no idea why. I’m wondering if this course or another one of your courses might be helpful as I work through this.

    Thanks so much.

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    • Hi Cait: The course would likely be very helpful, as well as reading the book DARE and listening to his guided meditations on the app that are specifically for driving.

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  11. I was a part of Sheryl’s ‘Break Free From Anxiety’ course last year, and it was truly life changing in so many ways. From the way that I view myself (as a highly sensitive person), to how past experiences influence my anxiety (and my reactions to them), her guidance and support (as well as the support of other group members) are like none I’ve ever experienced. Sheryl and this course are a true blessing.

    I incorporate what I learned every single day and have also learned to be gentle with myself while doing so. And as a 49 year-old male, I can more clearly see the flaws in potentially harmful societal archetypes, and I know that change within myself is possible no matter one’s age. In the past, I often felt like something was “wrong” with me because of my anxiety; that everyone else was just going through their days with ease. But Sheryl, this course, and the other brave and curious participants have shown me otherwise. I now see my anxiety as a gift. And though there are days when anxious feelings arise and I start to feel overwhelming, I now possess new tools and (more importantly) new stories around my anxiety that allow me to more calmly navigate that storm, rather than trying to forcefully “get rid of” them.

    I know that I am more than fine just as I am.

    So much love and thanks to you, Sheryl!

    Andy

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    • This is so beautiful to read, Andy. It was a true joy to connect with you on the course, and it makes me very happy to know that the shame voice has quieted down and you’re now able to see your anxiety/sensitivity as the gift that it is. Sending you so much love!

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  12. Hi Sheryl! Thanks for your beautiful words! Thanks to them (and all the previous ones I’ve been reading from you in the past years) I feel I’m on a brighter path towards a healthier life in the aspects that are truly important to me.

    I have two questions: could we say one has an anxious mind even when we are “ok”? I feel that’s my case, and I don’t mind stating that “I have an anxious mind” as long as I can find healthy ways of living with it, which I think I’ve been slowly doing, as I said 🙂

    Given that, do you have any practical tips on how to concentrate more? I love studying, but sometimes I feel I don’t get as focused as I would have liked because my mind is racing, and studying requires my mind to focus hehe. I don’t say racing with obsessive thoughts, just racing because it races – as I said, could we say that or I shouldn’t actually have a racing mind altogether? I don’t think I “shouldn’t”, but I want to be able to concentrate more on my studies (and prayers also) according to this good old racing thinking brain of mine 🙂 hehe

    Any practical tips would be highly appreciated 🙂

    Forever thankful!!! <3

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  13. I admit I’m a little scared to take this course, but more scared not to. It’ll be interesting.

    Reply

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