That shimmering feeling of ease that you’re longing to feel with your partner…
That sense of goodness and, dare I say, rightness, you hoped would accompany committed, healthy partnership…
Openings in your body and sweetness in your mind…
It’s all waiting for you inside the fear of love.
Many people find their way to my work through the portal of relationship anxiety, which can be defined as persistent doubt about whether or not you’re with the right person. Other who find their way here don’t necessarily struggle with relationship anxiety but long to feel more with their partner: more aliveness, more attraction, more ease, more togetherness. However you have found your way here, the pathways to love are the same: to identity your fear-walls, move toward them, commit to daily practices that shrink fear and grow love, and learn about what it means to truly love yourself. There are Love Laws and Loving Actions that, when practiced over time, will help you fall in love with your partner.
But falling in love isn’t what Hollywood has told you it is.
It’s not unequivocal “knowing” or unblemished euphoria. It’s not the insatiable desire to rip off your partner’s clothes. It’s not staring into each other’s eyes for hours on end and finishing each other’s sentences (or sandwiches, as Anna says in Frozen ;)). It’s not always feeling understood and “gotten”. It’s not a depth of connection that permanently lifts you out of loneliness.
It’s knowing that your partner is your safe harbor, and that you will keep showing up for each other through the decades of life’s ups and downs.
It’s growing a lifelong friendship that supports each of your dreams and endeavors.
It’s working through layers and generations of fear and control as you expand your acceptance and your capacity to truly love.
It’s seeing your partner through clear-eyes more often than fear-eyes, and through that clear seeing feeling like the luckiest person in the world that you have this person by your side.
When I ask people about their long-term vision of life with their partner, it’s less about ecstasy and more about growing together into old age, less about ripping off each other’s clothes and more about taking care of their future grandchildren together, less about a perfect union and more about a solid and seasoned union.
But it takes some work to get there because the truth is that most of us have been hurt in the name of love. Most of us know what it feels like for our separate sense of self to be steamrolled and our boundaries – either overt or covert – to be violated, and thus develop a fear of loss of self. Most of us know what it is to be judged, criticized, analyzed, emotionally abused, abandoned, and thus we develop the fear of being hurt and rejected.
And so we learn not to trust. Every defense we erect – the intrusive thoughts, the cringing, taking the moral high road, thinking our way is always right or “better”, lack of attraction, focusing on what’s missing instead of what’s present – are attempts to keep a safe, available partner at arm’s length because we don’t trust that it’s safe to open fully to love.
What is the way through? To learn the Love Laws and Loving Actions that shrink fear and grow love.
For here’s the bottom line: Not only is love more of an action and a choice than a feeling but it’s the very actions we take to shrink fear that ultimately grow love. Do you hear the paradox? We act not from feelings but from values, and the more we act against fear the more we grow the feelings.
Every hook that your anxiety hangs its hat on about your partner, every time you scold, nag or condescend, every time you indulge the part of you that keeps your partner at arm’s length either physically, mentally, or emotionally, is an attempt to hold onto the reins of control and prevent you from taking the risk of surrendering into your partner’s full embrace.
Because trusting another is the scariest thing we do.
I know the territory well, my friends. While I haven’t struggled with relationship anxiety in twenty years, I have certainly kept my husband at arm’s length in various ways and to various degrees over the decades of our marriage. As I often teach, we heal in layers and spirals, and the same is true in our work around loving and being loved. Every time I surrender a layer of control and allow myself to free fall into trust – which for me often looks like letting go of the need to control, be right, believe that my way is better – I lose my breath, then fall into my husband’s arms where we meet in ease and essence. Seeing through clear-eyes instead of fear-eyes there is only the sweetness of he and I, and every perceived lack dissolves into the bowl of our loving.
Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction for your partner was birthed in 2013 after years of guiding others through the actions that shrink fear and grow love. Through listening to thousands of people and softening my own fear-walls again and again, I distilled these actions into a tangible roadmap of Love Laws and Loving Actions that outline the steps to take to grow the relationship of your dreams.
Again, we can talk until we’re blue in the face about what it means to shrink fear and grow love, but in the end there is one thing that dissolves fear: Action. As with all aspects of anxiety, it’s taking action that sends our mind and heart the message that you hear fear but you’re not going to act on it. We have to act against fear’s warnings if we’re going to gather the gold of intimate partnership. We have to act against what we call “instinct” if we want to teach ourselves that the loving person we’ve chosen is a safe harbor.
Every time you listen to fear, it grows.
Every time you believe the voice that says, “I wouldn’t be feeling this way with someone else,” you add logs to the fear flames.
Every time listen to the cringe that keeps your partner at arm’s length, you fortify the walls around your heart which prevent you from experiencing the fullness of safe love.
But every time you act against these well-worn grooves in your behavior and psyche, you forge a new pathway. This “acting against” are the Love Laws and Loving Actions I teach in Open Your Heart. Together, we will create a new map. Together, we will shrink fear and grow love. Together, we will see that the person you’ve longed for all along is standing right before you. The 17th live round of this course starts on Saturday, August 8th, 2020. I look forward to meeting you there and showing you the way.