I recently listened to one of the most extraordinary podcast interviews I’ve ever heard. I walked with her words in my ear and my heart blown wide open by the soul of someone I can only call a true mystic of our times: Andrea Gibson.

There were so many parts that stopped me in my tracks, but my favorite was when Andrea was talking about their lifelong anxieties and subsequent compulsions. “I was an intense hypochondriac. I wouldn’t eat nuts on an airplane out of fear that I would suddenly develop a nut allergy at 32,000 feet. It ruled my life.”

Glennon adds: “Andrea goes online just to make sure they haven’t accidentally posted nude pictures of themselves. And re-reads emails 12 times just to make sure there’s nothing in the email that could later incriminate them for a crime they have not committed.”

“Yes, all of these things I would do! But when I got diagnosed all of that stopped. And the first thing I realized was that my whole life there was grief underneath that anxiety. That ultimately under all of that was a fear of not being connected. A fear of dying because a fear of losing everyone I love.”

It’s grief underneath the anxiety.

It’s the fear of separateness.

When we soften into these places, the mind quiets down and the heart opens wider than we could ever imagine.

The Vulnerability of Life

Life is so very vulnerable.

It includes, at its core, an awareness that no matter where we live, who we partner with, what job we have, what we look like, or how much money we have, there will still be an element of incompleteness, imperfection, grief, and loneliness.

Intrusive thoughts tell us otherwise.

They tell us that if we had the “perfect” partner or the “perfect” house in the “perfect” city or the “perfect” job we would be lifted above life’s messiness and transported to a place of eternal completeness and perfection.

It’s hard to poke a hole in the argument of intrusive thoughts, partially because our mainstream culture pushes the notion at every turn that if you get things “just right” you will feel “just right.”

The Great Cultural Lie

This is a lie. And a dangerous one. It’s a lie that keeps us perpetually striving to be “better” or have more. It keeps us checking and ruminating and stuck in the catastrophic worry of imagining the worst.

In short, it keeps us on the hamster wheel of striving and the spin cycle of the mind where we are protected from the fundamental discomfort of being human.

When we stop fighting this discomfort and instead learn how to befriend the sense of incompleteness and imperfection – and the grief that lives at the core because loss, separation, and death exist – worlds of joy open to us.

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