Oh, the what-ifs…
I’ve received hundreds of queries over the years that reflect some version of the same question:
“What if I learn to trust myself and then I realize that my truth is that I have to leave my partner?”
“What if I turn inward and discover a deep, dark truth about myself that I’ve been in denial about my entire life?”
‘What if I take a course on self-trust and I open a box that I can’t manage or close?”
In short, the number one reason why people are afraid to turn inward – afraid to journal, afraid to meditate, afraid to connect to a source of personal guidance and wisdom, afraid to “do the work” so that they can grow self-trust – is because they’re afraid of what they’ll find.
My first response is to offer reassurance: I’ve never seen someone in a loving, compatible relationship choose to leave after turning inward and developing self-love and self-trust. It doesn’t happen because people who find their way to my work almost invariably are blessed to be involved with caring, honest, wonderful partners. It doesn’t happen because you already know that your truth is that you don’t want to leave otherwise you wouldn’t feel terrified of discovering that your truth is that you want to leave! And it doesn’t happen because your anxiety isn’t a warning sign; it’s a defense mechanism.
I’ve also never seen people find the courage to turn inward and attend to the next layer of healing and discover a deep, dark truth about themselves that demands that they blow up their entire life. That’s the Hollywood version of inner work; it’s not real life.
These are understandable fears, however. Is it scary to dive down into the dark caves of psyche with one small headlight strapped to your head? Yes! Is it easier to continue along in the safety of an unexamined life? Absolutely. It’s scary because when you turn inward you’re traveling into the unknown, and highly sensitive people prone to anxiety are particularly scared of the unknown. In the absence of known factors, the anxious mind will cast stories about worst-case scenarios if only because grabbing onto something feels more certain than diving into nothing.
When you’re considering the next layer of inner work and these questions arise, the first step is to name them for what they are: defense strategies that are trying to keep you safe. Next, it’s helpful to douse them with a good splash of truth-water, and hang on to what I’ve seen in over twenty years of doing this work, which is this:
When you enter into the next layer of restoring self-trust and self-love, the barriers of protection that prevent real love from flowing naturally start to soften and your relationship palpably improves. As you shift from self-doubt to self-trust and see your own essence through loving eyes, the film of fear that distorts perception clears away and you can see your partner for who he or she truly is. In other words, once you choose to stop projecting and take responsibility for your internal reactions, the barriers that block love come down and the beauty that lives between you can flourish.
The same is true outside the realm of relationships. When you grow more self-trust and self-love, you become
So herein lies the real question: Are you ready to take responsibility for your well-being and let go of the pernicious and convincing belief that if you were with someone else or lived somewhere else or with someone at all or living in a different house or at a different job or career you wouldn’t be experiencing anxiety or self-doubt? The illusion is compelling, I know. We are primed to believe that if we changed outer circumstances our inner realm would transform and the doubts would quell. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s both our greatest head-bang as humans and our greatest liberation when we realize that we hold the keys to our freedom, and that one of the cornerstone portals to this freedom is restoring self-trust. (For more on this subject, see our recent Gathering Gold episode on Escape Hatch Fantasies.)
The more you accept this – that you, and you alone, are responsible for your well-being – the more you learn what real love and real trust are all about. And the more you learn to trust yourself, the more you can trust partners, friends, and life itself. It can be said that the antidote to self-doubt is trust in every sense of the word. At the core of lack of self-trust lies a profound need to control others and outcomes – the belief that if you could only control how others perceived you and the outcomes of all of your decisions, you would be happy. This mindset naturally leads to an internal tightness and rigidity that affects every aspect of your well-being. In other words, it’s hard to flow with the river of life when you’re trying to control the depth and pace and temperature of the water.
This is what we’ll be learning in the Trust Yourself course: how to love yourself and how to let go. How to accept how you’re wired and begin or deepen the process of knowing yourself, seeing yourself, and loving yourself. How to allow life to hold you. Because in the end, that’s where true safety and freedom live. I teach a gentle yet powerful roadmap in the course, and you’ll be held every step of the read. So if you’re ready to edge self-doubt out of the driver’s seat and experience more safety and freedom, come join us.
Click here to learn more about Trust Yourself: A 30-day program to help you overcome your fear of failure, caring what others think, perfectionism, addiction to approval, difficulty making decisions, and self-doubt. The 17th round of this course starts on this Saturday, March 5th, 2022, this is one of my most popular courses, and spaces are filling fast!
Ah I love this post!!!!! This part: “the more you accept this – that you, and you alone, are responsible for your well-being – the more you learn what real love, real attraction, and real trust are all about. ” yes yes yes! I am forever grateful for you and your work!
Yes, this is really at the core of what creates real change!
There are no words. However you discovered such profound and comprehensible solutions to the most difficult and irrational human feelings is incredible. Every person on earth needs to read things like this.
Thank you so very much!
Thank you, Olivia. I’m so glad you’re here. ❤️
I have been in a long distance relationship for a couple of years now with relationship anxiety on and off throughout that time. It seems to get worse when I think about moving to be with him. I really don’t want to move as I am very close to my family and friends here but he can’t really get a job where I live because of the field he works in. This leaves me feeling like I don’t really have a choice whether I move or not. Whenever I think about moving to be with him I like him less, and sometimes feel like I don’t even like him anymore at all – even though I know deep down this is just because I’m so afraid of moving cities! What if I move and never feel happy there? Has anyone else experienced a similar situation and have any tips they could share?
I, too, entered a long distance relationship with a man who lives on another continent! A year ago, I was struck my severe anxiety, and asked to break up. I tried dating, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him. That was when I realized that I do love him and I do want to give him a chance. Sheryl’s blog was a tremendous help at waking me up to the fact that I had anxiety, and was seeing things through a black and white lens.
I’ve been meditating daily, practicing staying present has been great help. Watch YouTube videos of Eckhart Tolle, Michael Singer, Jiddu Krishnamurti (on fear). Unfortunately, we were not taught these in school or at home. Not only am I ‘in control’ of my anxiety, I even laugh at myself for having certain thoughts and fears sometimes. It really takes practice. My quality of life, too, relationship aside, has changed tremendously. Be patient and loving towards yourself. There really is a way out, and that is to go inward!
This is such a wise and generous response, Patti, and good for you for committing to your inner work!
This is a great post! Ever since I hear about your “trust yourself” program, I’ve felt it’s just what I need, and now I’m even more convinced. I’m just a poor student, but I just sold some funds so that I can join the program, I will pay tomorrow. I am worried though that my truth really _is_ that I have to leave my partner, even though I feel terrified of not having him in my life. But I feel like I only love him when he’s in a good mood, I am very sensitive and he often uses a terribly angry voice when he speaks to me and it makes me feel so uneasy, each time it happens I think about leaving him, sometimes he gets angry outbursts that makes me cry, like the other day when his phone wasn’t working and he smashed it. Anyway, long before I met him I struggled with lack of self-trust, so I think I really need this program, your articles have helped me gained a lot of understanding before.
Hi Sheryl, before I found you which was the best day of my life.. I was a mess couldn’t function I had overwhelming anxiety and it started when I met my now husband. I’ve always had anxiety in relationships I couldn’t cope so I took the easy way out. I gave up and there was this overwhelming relief. I thought in the past that I was in the wrong relationship and maybe they weren’t the right guys but now I believe from doing Sheryl’s work they didn’t cause my anxiety. It was me my lack of trust in myself and others. At the beginning of the ecourse I was in such deblitating fear . I had to face the world with 2 jobs . There was one time I nearly gave up and ended my relationship with the most beautiful man I have ever met. Lucky for my family it didn’t happen.. Just don’t give up guys.. It really truly does get better. I have had days of anxiety but I pretty much just accept it and not question my feelings of fear. We are winners!!!!
Thank you Sheryl from the bottom of my heart. I hope one day I d be lucky to meet you in person and give you a big hug. XO
This was definitely an anxiety spike for me…but I feel in such safe hands and am so looking forward to learning. Thank you!
Looking forward to working with you again :).
Im very interested in taking this course, but will be traveling quite extensively during the period it is offered. Is it possible to self pace through the course, or do you feel it is better to take when I can follow along daily with you and the other course members?
It’s better to follow along with the group. I would suggest waiting for the next round.
This: “the belief that if you could only control how others perceived you and the outcomes of all of your decisions, you would be happy.” This is my biggest struggle. Great article as always Sheryl!
As it is for almost everyone!
“At the core of lack of self-trust lies a profound need to control outcomes and control others.” – I couldn’t agree with this more. As I do my inner work, that’s what it comes down to, control. I’m the type of person who likes to have control over everything. But some things don’t have answers, and some things we’ll just never know. This has been very hard for me to learn, but am committed to working on this belief.
“But some things don’t have answers, and some things we’ll just never know.” That’s exactly right – and so hard to accept!
I’m taking the concious wedding ecourse and I was really thinking about taking this one as well because I feel like I’m having a really hard time letting go of trying to control every single aspect of my life and relationship it’s exhausting and I can’t continue like this anymore it’s unbelievably stressful and I feel unnecessary stress. But it begins on a day I will be up north over the weekend I may or may not have internet connection I will be home that Tuesday? Would it be ok to join or will that already set me behind?
Thank you 🙂
That won’t set you behind!
“I’ve never seen someone in a loving, compatible relationship choose to leave after choosing to turn inward and develop self-love and self-trust. It just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because people who find their way to my work almost invariably are blessed to be involved with caring, honest, wonderful partners.”
This is great, but sometimes people end relationships with caring, wonderful partners for valid reasons, right? I don’t think developing self-trust would necessarily lead you to end a relationship, but I do believe that sometimes people break up due to circumstances outside one’s control. Sometimes you can seem to be compatible in the beginning of a relationship, and then things change.
Yes, of course. But then it’s more a case of not really knowing your partner well enough to begin with, and when you truly get to know him or her you realize that it’s not a loving match.
I think one reason that people feel such anxiety with this particular “what if” question is because so many with an ambivalent attachment style suffer so much during a break up. I speak from personal experience and it is in part why I find myself here.
Whether you go through an infatuation phase or simply find someone who has all the fundamental qualities important for a compassionate love relationship, there can be this deep sense of fear and anxiety that there is perhaps a better, more deeply felt (more passionate, more archetypal?) relationship out there, somewhere, but the pain of leaving this one is just too much.
I have in the past said out loud: “I just can’t go through another break up….the last one damn near killed me”. It can feel as if the anxiety is an avoidant tactic so as to dodge the pain but in doing so you will never reach your fullest potential.
I know this is only a half truth (or maybe there is NO truth in it), but it is confounding nonetheless.
Yes, it’s a common anxiety tactic: You’re only staying because you’re scared of the pain of the break up (or scared to hurt your partner).
“It doesn’t happen because you already know that your truth is that you don’t want to leave otherwise you wouldn’t feel terrified of discovering that your truth is that you want to leave! And it doesn’t happen because your anxiety isn’t a warning sign; it’s a defense mechanism.”
As you replied above, your truth may be that you want to leave but you’re scared of the pain of the break up (or hurting your partner)….?
It’s always possible but it’s not what I see in my work. What I see is that the desire to learn about real love with with a loving partner outweighs the fear of the pain of a breakup.
This is SO TRUE, and something I feel I’ve been worried about a lot, that has actually compelled me to avoid being healthy because it frightens me so much. I avoided therapy because I was afraid that I would either discover it’s not OCD and I’ve been using that as an excuse (even though I have been diagnosed), that my therapist would tell me it’s my brain and “gut instinct” telling me to leave, or I’ve even thought “if I get healthy, I’ll become too independent and won’t long for him or need him anymore” or “he won’t need me.” Then I realize how unhealthy the underlying feeling of neediness is in a statement like that, and I worry that it means I’m only afraid of breaking up with him because I’mcodependent, not because i love him , and it starts the cycle all over again. I have basically put my entire life on hold because I’m afraid if I work on myself, we’ll grow apart, or I’ll realize I don’t want him and that all this OCD and anxiety was a lie to cover up unhappiness with him. But the unhappiness, I know, is within myself. I can’t put my life on hold voluntarily and make myself depressed and miserable because I fear something irrational, and then turn around and decide my relationship is the culprit when my boyfriend has been nothing but supportive. Then I just hyper focus on his flaws, worrying if he’s not responsible enough, if he’s not good enough with money and we’ll fall apart, which is just me projecting my own insecurities and the issues of my parents’ marriageonto us because iI’m so afraid of becoming them. And because of that fear, I feel trapped, numb, unsexual, and empty, and sometimes I feel like running away or holing myself up alone, in misery. I don’t want to drive him away just because I’m terrified of commitment and failure, and loss of love or loss of self. The control issues have gotten so bad; even writing this is making me spike because I fear I’ll blurt out “we’re doomed, it’s over’ when I’m being honest like this. I’m so scared, and I’m fed up with this illness. I hope I can come up with the money for this course so I can finally do something, even if I’m sitting here TERRIFIED that I will be the exception to this blog and that this is just the beginning of the end. :/
Hi Sarah Jean,
I feel the exact same way. I have been having relationship OCD and OCD in general since the beginning of my relationship. We took a break and I remember when he called me back it was unexpected and I can’t even tell you how clear and excited I was to talk to him again. Then the anxiety always starts setting back in and with it comes doubt, numbness, and guilt that he loves me more. Now I am engaged and dealing with these feelings which is hard with an upcoming wedding which is supposed to be exciting. I also hurt his feelings by telling him that my anxiety lives on. We discussed it and he now knows that its not me talking its my anxiety. But I connect to you when you say maybe you are the only exception. If it makes you feel better you are definitely not the only one experiencing it so you can’t be the sole exception – then I would be an exception too and I don’t think I am (though my brain is telling me I am). Something my fiance told me is that I shouldn’t think I am so special and abnormal. Not that he doesn’t think I am special, believe me I am the most special person to him, but he is trying to say what I am experiencing is not unique and therefore there is always a solution. Best of luck to the both of us!
Jonathan, I’m not going to lie, your comment spiked me a lot. Are you saying you think the anxiety is just fear of being hurt, and that we know we need to break up and are using it as a distraction? Or that it’s something we create within ourselves because we’re afraid of the vulnerability of love and the possibility of it ending? One of my biggest fears is that I’m just lying to myself and making this whole disorder up, or that I’m forcing myself to stay or lie to him even when I know he’s one of the most loving and supporting partners I can imagine and he makes me happy.
Your comment points to lack of self-knowledge and self-trust more than anything else, and is a very common place where anxiety likes to hang its hat.
@ Sarah Jean,
I think Sheryl answered your question in her response to both yours and my comment. It is true that lack of self knowledge and self trust will lead to a place of anxiety. That anxiety can keep you from fully loving and engaging the person you’re with, however much you are (or not) “in love” with them and it can also keep you from leaving if you feel dissatisfied. So anxiety and lack of self knowledge really are a double whammy because you can neither truly embrace and nurture what you have, nor do you have the confidence to move on, leaving you to spin endlessly.
As with anything in life, my sense is you are best off to do one of two things when faced with a tough decision: Either accept it as it is, wholeheartedly and pour yourself into it, or change it. Too often we find ourselves stuck in the middle doing neither of those things, anxiety perpetuating more anxiety. I am guilty of this, so you are not alone in it by any means.
It is a journey for sure….
just my .02 😉
And another thing would be if you guys didn’t have any connection what so ever , you would have realized it from the start of the relationship at most a few months I believe
Hi Sheryl, is Thursday too late to register?
There are still a few spots left :).
This is such a breath of fresh air. I came across your site a week or so ago and, let me tell you, it’s been absolutely refreshing. We are SO inundated with messages of what love is, and what love should feel like, and how we should feel butterflies all the time, and that attraction is always ever-present, and (finally) that love strikes hard and immediately and there’s no slow simmer. Phew. I met my husband about five and a half years ago and we developed a relationship slowly. Prior to meeting him, I equated lust and longing with love. ::pause:: That was exhausting and never-ending. My husband, Steve, is sweet and hilarious and smart and one of my favorite people in the world. We’ve been married for two years in late August. And, yet, I feel anxiety and doubt. Randomly. Well, not randomly – it was, basically, immediately after I started an entrepreneurial group that is fairly hardcore (and pushy and driven and “perfection”-oriented). That said, I started to feel that relationship anxiety after I started this entrepreneurial group and it was DEBILITATING. Literally. Absolutely made me nauseous (which is a new type of ‘high’ of anxiety for me). SO – I tried to work through that with logic and it just never stuck. I was also honest with Steve and he helped me to see some insight to work through some stuff (based in childhood – anxiety has been a big part of my life). I would ask myself, “Do you want to get a divorce?” And I would answer, “No!” And then I would ask myself, “Do you love Steve?” And I would answer, “Yes!” And then I would just feel left with confusion!! So I started googling relationships, doubt, and anxiety. FINALLY, I came across this site. Freaking praise Jesus for this website. I’m so happy to let go of the shame and guilt that I feel with reading through the blogs, guest posts, and comments that I’m reading. Seriously, thank the lord for this. I am so thankful that I’m not alone and that having anxiety about my relationship doesn’t mean it’s the end (that would suck) or that we’re not meant to be together (that would really suck). Thank you, Sheryl, for blogging and for speaking to something that is not well-known. I appreciate this more than you will ever know.
This post is great! I definitely can relate to it, cause this question always popped into my head and made me feel petrified!!
Since I’ve started to feel better, I can say that this fear is not logical..if I wanted to leave my bf, I wohave left long ago without feeling all the fear and agony.
But now i have this annoying problem about sex (maybe you remember)..I am afraid to have sex cause I fear I wont enjoy it…since I didn’t enjoy it for quite some time..I am literally afraid when I think about makink love to him..I don’t know what to do..I know it’s not for here, but if someone can relate to my situation, please shear.
Sheryl, I whould be so great full!
I love my bf, but I just stopped enjoying sex and started to fear from it. I feel sad and frustrated. .
I thank you again so much.
God bless you.
I know you said taking the course in the next session will be preferable for me as I won’t be able to follow along with the group during this session.
Just to alleviate some of my concerns, would you happen to know when the next session will be (approximately)?
Most likely in November but I’m not certain yet.
I am really struggling right now….engaged to the most wonderful, caring, supportive and loving partner I can think of. I just do not know why I am so sad and anxious around him…I keep focussing on his flaws, and am unable to appreciate him for who he is.
I am terrified of the idea that I am not attracted to him…and I am terrified that I am in this because I do not want to hurt his feelings….I want this to be OCD, and I really want to accept him, flaws and all, but its like my head wont stop obssessing that he isnt good looking enough, or dresses well enough, or that is not charming enough. These thoughts pop into my head everytime I video chat with him, and he sees the pain in my eyes. He wants to help me, so he forces me to confront my feelings, and thinks that I am unhappy. I blurt out all his flaws, and he keeps listening even though it pains him.
I am a complete emotional mess right now…I just dont want to leave him because of some stupid, superficial flaws, but at the same time I am anxious and unhappy around him….
It really doesnt help me when people comment on the way he looks….yes, he isnt all that great, but he has good features, works out, and above all, has a heart of gold. I want this to work, but with my anxiety, i am really not sure what our future will be like !
Hi Sheryl- part of my journey of learning to trust myself and embrace my new identity since becoming a wife is trusting that it is ok for me to let go of friendships that are no longer serving my highest self. This has been so incredibly painful for me, and fraught with so much doubt, anxiety and self-berating. Underneath my struggle I’ve finally uncovered a key piece- my fear of loneliness. I’d love to see you write something about embracing the loneliness
Such an important topic. Yes, I’ll write about it at some point.
Beautiful post as always 🙂
Just wondering could it sometimes be the we are the ones with the problems as in jealousy etc and that’s why we get anxious
Because when I first started dating I cried a lot and wasn’t because he was bad or anything he’s a really good person with big heart that makes me laugh and we have nice times together and I want him in my life , but when we first started dating I wanted all of his attention all the time and that’s what I believed was love but he knew already what real love was so he still lived his own life and It got to a point where we would have a nice day together and the next day I would be sad and mad that he wasn’t paying attention to me because he wanted to play games all day or hang out with friends it’s gotten way better now , I really never cry and when I do its sometimes because my anxious thoughts that make me scared of losing him but befor I always blamed him for not being next to me all the time and feeling lonely
I just want to know what I can do to change my jealousy and other problem because I don’t want him out of my life .
Also can relationships just work ? I find in mine we just work I can’t explain how , we just do .???
Like I feel normal around him and I feel like I can be myself also and we to have fun and laugh together but nothing over the top it’s just nice / safe / comfort but when I think about him I don’t feel joyful in my heart and if I do it’s for a brief second but I also don’t feel pain /hatred / annoyed towards him when he pops into mind also I sometimes wonder why him , what makes him so diff from soo many people in this world and it makes me feel bad because if I do say some reasons I don’t always feel connected to them , I’m really just wondering if you have some papers on your blog that might be able to help me with these thoughts
Also in reality I do not want to break up , something in my does not want to let him go and really wants in my life and I don’t want anyone to say maybe you don’t love him because it makes me mad and sad
And I do feel connected to him and want his company lol sorry blabbing
One thing I’ve been noticing a lot lately when I’m anxious is that that is when I am most prone to self-analyze.
It’s been a real pain because I have these lovely journal entries simply stating “GF and I had a wonderful day today and x made me smile.” Followed by long, long introspective posts on terrible days analyzing the relationship and myself and her. And when I’m anxious, I seemingly each time BELIEVE I was lying to myself on all those happy “simple” days with her- when in actuality those are the days I want.
And, of course, those are the times I’m so worried about not being in the right relationship, because I can’t feel anything for my partner. When, honestly, I can’t even feel connected to myself then! I’m just now doing the Projection lesson on the ECourse, so I’m hoping to learn more ways to battle my judging nature when anxious.
Lovely post. And it was definitely what I needed to read. However, I have one thing to ask the people on this lovely site.
What do you do if you feel like your partner isn’t real? I don’t know if that is common or just me but it’s scary forgetting that my partner exists and realizing that she is a real person.
Once again I find myself glued to reading your articles for reassurance and something to ease my mind and heart that feel like they will break into pieces. Your articles and all the positive stories really helped me and I did some work on myself and so for a while things felt really great with my partner (who is all of the amazing qualities you talk about and loves me like I have never experienced before!) I started to hear the negative voice about myself again about 2months back and even journaled about it and how I could literally begin to feel myself disconnecting from my partner. At this stage I was adamant I was not allowing my negative thoughts about myself and fear take over my relationship again but now I find myself back at square one feeling more scared that my fears are real as this is the second time round. I live in NZ and keep thinking for a long time that (when relationship anxiety first hit me) I need to do one of your courses but I am not sure I can afford it as we have just bought our first home together…
I was afraid to read this article because i thought this meant break up. Sheryl I really need your help after reading I dont why I still want to break up. He is good to me but I obscess all day about the negative its hard for me to see us working out. I get tired of him and my boyfriend not even here he is at miitary school. I just dont know how to stop this self sabotage. Please I am desperate for counseling but I cant afford it. I really need some help im holding on by a thread. I obscess about breakup all day. I just dont know what to do why do I want to give up. I cry all the time and deeply depressed i just dont know what to do.its like im pushing him away on purpose and to make matters worst all i get is future projections of us breaking up. I dont know why i dont want to change.
I just got a random thought in my head saying what if I have anxiety because I don’t want a relationship , and it turned me upside down and made my stomach upset and made me feel sad and now I feel like I lost myself and can’t think straight , is this another way / tactic for anxiety to get into the driver seat and take control ? Because I know I want him in my life just right now I don’t feel sure about anything sense that thought popped up
Hi Sheryl, I have read many of your blogs and articles and many of them helped me realize that its okay to feel the way I do and that it does not always mean things are bad or going bad. I have struggled with mild anxiety all my life. I have recently started to experience a lot of anxiety around my relationship, which is healthy, loving and very positive. I have even broken up with y boyfriend 3 times this year. When I am with my boyfriend I feel better and my anxieties fade away but in the morning when I wake up I have a knot in my stomach even if before I go to bed everything is awesome. We have been talking a lot about moving in together and Im excited about that and don’t want to live with anyone else or be with anyone else, but I panic when I get these feelings of worry or that “gut feeling” even though I really want it to all work out with him and he’s amazing and everything about him is what I want and need in someone, and cannot imagine not having him in my life. Is it okay to feel this way even if were not engaged yet? Any tricks to stop the knots in my stomach?
Yes! Read through everything on my site, watch all of the videos, and if you’re still wanting more sign up for the ecourse : ) .
Hi Sheryl. I think I’m having relationship anxiety and I suffer from OCD. I took your wedding ecourse which helped me, but I want to work through my anxiety and your posts really help me. I want to sign up for your 30 day love yourself course, but I believe it is sold out? When will the next course be?
Next Open Your Heart starts in September. I’ll add you to the early bird list.
I too get worried if the simple days that I am absolutely happy are not what’s real… I get concerned that those are just rare occasions and that he isn’t actually good for me… that we would be better as friends! But I’d still want those same moments as friends. We are going through a transition to college and even though I know I want to spend a ton of my life with him (at least how I see it now) I get so worried. I have never loved anyone as much as I love him. I would do anything to make him happy including letting him be with someone else who might be better suited for him than I am, I want us to stay together and happy and grow together and grow closer than we are now.
Hi Sheryl. Thank you so much for your insights. It is helping me with my relationship anxiety, generalized anxiety and also with my chronic pain. All the time I resisted to do the work because I was afraid that my anxiety and pain would tell me to change my life, to leave my boyfriend, to have relationships with women instead of men, and so on… I’m especially resisting the journaling part, since I’ve became very depressed in the past when I journaled about my problems. Do you have any tips on how to journal and how to avoid journal with your fear based mind?
Yes, I recommend using the journaling technique that I teach in my book The Wisdom of Anxiety. It’s a very specific and highly effective technique to address the fear-based mind.
I just want to let you know your posts have saved my life and my mind. I’m not sure where I would be right now if I didn’t find this website.
I have been struggling with relationship anxiety for the last month. My boyfriend and I have been together since we were 14. We are now 21, have a house together; run a business together, our lives are completely wrapped in eachother. He has always been my better half, my best friend and everything I have wanted in a partner. I have never questioned myself or our relationship until I woke up one day and had endless thoughts of “do I love him” “an I happy” “we will work out” “will I love him forever?” “Will he love me forever?”
I know I don’t want to leave my partner and I just want to have these doubts gone and be able to look at him with such happiness and without a doubt in my mind.
I have always been a very sensitive child, very dependent and never liked being alone with lots of fears. After finding your blogs, I am thinking that I really need to build my well of self and look internally.
We have been together for so long and I have never had a question or doubt, why is it just showing up now?
Hi Sheryl, thank you for another beautiful and well-timed (how do you always manage that??) post. I’ve been on this journey for the last 5 years now, our daughter is now 18 months old. I’ve had a spike in anxiety over the last few weeks, and I know I am ready for the next stage of growth.
But sometimes I lose track, I go back a little, but this is what I needed to hear. Because despite all the inner work I’ve done, I now realise how I’ve also used it as a way to avoid trusting myself, and have been blaming myself for now being ‘out of the woods’ instead of gently taking responsibility in navigating those challenging times.
Now it’s time to take responsibility for myself, and trust in myself as opposed to always handover to friends, coaches, therapists etc…. so anyways thank you xx
Such a beautiful, wise, and self-compassionate comment. Thank you.
I’ve been working through the BF course and working with an attachment and trauma informed therapist. After months of work with the therapist I feel like I’m finally ready to really take on board the BF content and today wrote letters to my exs. I’ve been vacillating for months about my partner but my times of clarity are getting longer and longer! This evening I am filled with love for him and so calm after throwing my letters into the sea.
I have a question though, I heard my ex is seriously unwell in hospital last week (we still have mutual friends but it was a messy, toxic relationship which hurt me a lot). In the past week I have had 2 dreams – one just of him and another where he dating a new woman who he looks happy with. I felt longing and jealousy on waking. I’m trying to understand the metaphor – any ideas?
Hi Sheryl! When will the next Trust Yourself course be? I can’t join this round, but really need to take this course. Thank you!
I only run this course once a year live but you can take the self-paced version any time.
I love love love your content!! It’s sooo helpful and calming for me when I experience relational anxiety. Are there special student pricing for your courses? Particularly, trust yourself course?
Thank you and I’m so glad you’re here! Please email us directly and we’ll discuss your situation.
Thank you for the reminder of this post, which I read when you first posted it. In the years since starting this work (my having only recently begun the RA course, this year-), I’ve discovered that the depths I’m falling into my anxiety – vs observing it from outside, and instead leaning into the internal quietude- are shallower. That said, the depth of the pain and grieving still exist, and I’m only beginning to approach this (it is hard!).
In the time since first reading this post, I’ve had 3 partners, and with each now, deep anxiety. My current partner is the first one with whom I’ve felt a deep trust. I tell others that she and I both give 125%, whereas in past relationships, I gave 125% while the others gave 75%. In some ways I wonder what part of the past anxiety was truth, and worry that there’s something that I’m missing in this current relationship, some “point of doom” or “incompatibility” that I’m missing to my fears of loss (of the other and of myself). Whenever I calm my mind about one “doom,” I often encounter another one in a week or so.
I still have deep pain and points of triggering to navigate (and so does my partner). My worry is more often less “do I love her” (I do), and less “is her chewing annoying” (it is; but I love her for and despite it), less “do I like her?” (sometimes I don’t; but I love her), and more “will we survive our equal sensitivities, will we continue finding ways to thrive individually and collectively?” (we both continue to do the work, and after filling and centering ourselves, returning to each other–) or “does she love me?” (she does not verbalize it much – those words were used manipulatively in her first and primary relationship – but she does exhibit it through many actions, and in future-oriented discussions and plans of home/children/family/travels/etc).
Is the fact that my worry orients more around “does she love me?” vs “do I love her” a concern, or more indicative of my lingering pain that I need to attend to? Historically I experienced a number of eras of rejection (bullying, unreciprocated or imbalanced love and friendships, etc); I suspect that these losses require additional grieving, and continue to inform my emotional triggers. The age old question remains: how do I insulate myself from the additional risk of loss, and how can I be assured that we are “right” when I’ve had anxiety in all past relationships, even and especially in the unhealthy ones?
Yes, that is the age-old question indeed…
“how do I insulate myself from the additional risk of loss”
Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do insulate against the possibility of loss; it’s the risk we take when we commit to loving and being loved.
“how can I be assured that we are “right” when I’ve had anxiety in all past relationships, even and especially in the unhealthy ones?”
Again, you can’t. There are no guarantees when it comes to love or life. There is only the commitment to keep showing up, to keep coming back to as much self-trust as we can so that we can say, “yes there were red-flags before but I know I have my own anxiety about being in a relationship so it’s going to show up even with a healthy partner.” And it certainly does sound like you’ve found a healthy, loving partner who is as committed as you are, both to you and to herself. How wonderful!
I want to point out that I’m hearing SO MUCH consciousness in you, annatall. It’s really beautiful to hear.
Thank you for this reply, Sheryl. I’m doing the work – oh, what a long way I still have to go!- and the affirmation is a boost in the “keep-going” direction. So thank you.
(Just now as I write this my mom texts that my sister in law – who’s pregnant with twins- is having contractions. I know it’s an age-old metaphor, but the timing of the text alongside reading your reply reminds me that pain – physical or emotional- can proceed birth and life. As it is both my partner’s sister in law and mine are having twins in the next few months, so perhaps this is representative of double the life, double the re/birthing.)
Incredible synchronicity! You’re thinking like a Jungian 😉
There is some weird layer of relationship anxiety for me that just happened as I read this. I’ve been getting more comfortable, trusting, secure, and can feel more real love in my relationship, which is such a relief after so much pain, distress, and hard work. I think something that just came up for me is, “oh wait, I haven’t been having these strong doubts and fears, which probably mean I’m in a healthy relationship, so it must mean I want to leave!” Now that I write this, I suppose it’s just another form of relationship anxiety haha. I still have what ifs and worries, but I’d say as a whole I’m in less distress than I have been. Mostly, I’ve been struggling with attraction to my partner recently (and maybe her for me as well), which has mostly been where my worries go. I guess something for me here is that relationship anxiety really can show up in many ways, but that I’ve been doing the work and I’ve been trusting that it can all get better with my partner and myself. Thanks for going on this journey of a post with me!
Yes, that’s a textbook relationship anxiety tactic! It’s so good that you’re doing the work and trusting yourself more.
Thank you, Sheryl! It’s so nice to hear from you!
Thank you for sharing, Laura. I find your sentiments relatable, in particular the acknowledgment that even things feeling easy can prompt worry. Thank you for the reminder that there are ebbs and flows; pain and hard work, with deep affectionate feelings as well as calm. I can easily worry (and then laugh when I catch myself—) that one state will or won’t last, forgetting that it’s a moving and adaptive creature, this thing of loving.
I did your Grace through Uncertainty course back in 2020 and it truly helped me change years and years of unhealthy patterns. I just signed up for the Trust Yourself course. I am so excited for this next phase of healing. Thank you so much for your work!
I look forward to connecting there!