As much as you want to change and heal, as much as you long to feel more fullness, aliveness, calm, and well-being, as much as you deeply desire a way to navigate life with more ease and less attachment to control, as much as you ache to break free from your intrusive thoughts… there is another part of you that resists the actions necessary to step into the helm of your inner ship and steer it toward healing. Why? Because they’re terrified to turn inward in case they discover the intrusive thought that has been barreling through their brain lately is actually true.
The #1 reason why people are terrified to turn inward is because they’re scared of what they’ll discover.
One of the most effective tactics to dislodge this fear is to name it clearly. When we name fear’s lines and replace them with the truth, its power diminishes, and that slight weakening may be enough to step into the gap and make a different choice. The incredible irony is that quite often with fear, the truth is the diametric opposite of what fear is telling us! It’s literally the EXACT opposite, which makes it fairly easy to dismantle its lies. Here we go:
Fear says, “If you grow, you’ll lose your partner.” The truth is that if you grow, you’ll open more fully to love, which allows you to connect more deeply with your partner.
Fear says, “If you heal, you’ll realize that everything about your life is wrong and you’ll have to change it.” The truth is that when you heal, you learn to connect more deeply to gratitude, which allows you to accept and love the life you’re living.
Fear says, “If you connect to yourself, you’ll realize how disconnected you are from your partner.” The truth is that connecting to yourself is one of the primary keys that allows you to infuse connectivity into all of your relationships.
Fear says, “If I turn inward I’ll discover a horrible, dark secret about myself.” The truth is that when you turn inward you discover the hidden beauty of who you are in your essence.
Fear says, “If I commit to my inner work, I’ll discover that the intrusive thought that has been terrorizing me lately is true. The truth is that you already know the truth, and inner work helps you strengthen self-trust, which helps you anchor into what you know to be true about yourself more readily.
Here is the lifeline I can offer: When you turn inward and learn to address your resistance and feel your feelings, what you discover is YOU: beautiful, awake, loving, empathic, kind, conscientious you. The you that has been buried beneath your anxiety. The you that has been waiting to be picked up and held. The you that is as beautiful as wildflowers, as pure as light, as golden as sunshine, as poetic as moonlight. When you peel back the resistance and soften the fear-walls, you come closer to yourself, which only makes you closer to everyone around you, including life itself. What you discover is a place of expansiveness, which allows you to step more fully into your fullness (see Joyce’s words below as she shares about her journey from contraction to expansion).
If there is some part of you that is reaching out from the depths of your pain, I am reaching back. As I’ve shared in many posts, we’re not meant to heal alone, and when you know that there’s a group of loving and compassionate people who are on the ride with you, it’s so much easier to commit to the actions necessary for growth. As one member of my small phone groups that focus on relationship anxiety shared, “The reason I’ve been able to take this next step toward healing is because I know that the group is here every week. Even if I don’t share, I know that if I dip into scary territory, I’m being held in the safety net of the group. Without that knowledge, it wouldn’t have felt safe to keep moving forward.”
The key word here is safety. We can only take the next steps into growth when we feel safe. Safety is the pillow that allows us to open our hearts and feel the lifetime of denied and forgotten pain. Safety is the anchor that allows us to step onto the little boat that will carry us into the sea of our unconscious where our wisdom and guidance live. Safety is what allows us to step through the small crack that divides fear’s resistance and the deeper desire to step onto a path of growth. Safety is what allows us to heal shame.
My course, Break Free From Anxiety: A 9-Month Course on the Art of Living, is this safety net and the roadmap that will guide you into your next layer of growth. It doesn’t matter where you are on the labyrinth – at the beginning stages or years into your healing work – if you’re longing for more daily guidance, weekly support, and monthly wisdom to walk you through a deepening of your healing, I invite you to join us on this exciting and courageous journey, which begins on September 18th, 2022.
And this is what Joyce in Longhorne, PA, a member of the 2021-22 round of this course, discovered:
If you’re a fan of The Wisdom of Anxiety, the 9-month course Break Free From Anxiety (BFFA) is like its theme park—an immersive experience. Daily emails, MP3s, group calls, videos, online forums, small group video meet-ups—Sheryl gives you many ways to enter into the knowledge.
I came to BFFA contracted—wound up in my fears, having a hard time getting back into the world after COVID, and in deep need of more of the wisdom, not the tyranny, of anxiety. Sheryl’s daily emails and our small group meetings worked best for me.
I don’t know what compelled me to sign up for group meetings, but I’m glad I did. Sheryl put our group together (turns out she’s a good matchmaker, too). A wonderful group of 5 women, from 3 countries and 5 different time zones who set aside their lives twice a month to meet on Zoom…not to ‘fix’ each other but to listen and hold a safe space to speak. A lot happens in people’s lives in 9 months—root canals and termite infestations, COVID and house-hunting, chronic pain and the joy of buying a new piano. And through it all, we showed up, and talked about how the weekly lessons related to our day-to-day. We were imperfect, together. We laughed a lot.
How do I feel after 9 months of BFFA? In a word, expansive. I am more about ways of being, less about ‘how do I fix it?’ (my heart is open). I feel less alone and more supported (and found new support—from my dreams, and those who came before me/ spiritual realm). Yes, anxiety still visits, but is more of a curiosity than a tormentor. I don’t walk away cured, I walk away larger—able to hold space for all who sit at my table.
And, good news, our group has decided to continue to meet beyond the course. Thank you, Sheryl