Two Healing Words

IMG_5366Last week, I had the blessed opportunity of having a closure session in person with a beautiful woman with whom I’ve worked for almost six years. As we sat face-t0-face (as opposed to screen-to-screen) and the session’s minutes clicked toward the end of our hour together, I told her that I wanted to make sure we had ample time to talk about our work and reflect on her growth over these past six years. She immediately dropped into her heart and, through tears, expressed her gratitude. And then said, “You know, one of the most transformative pieces of our work together is that you normalize everything. I’ve shared every thought and feeling I’ve ever had and you always tells me it’s normal. I’ve shared every struggle with my husband and I leave the session feeling like there’s nothing wrong. I have a feeling that’s why so many people come to you: they’re looking for you to say, ‘That’s normal.'”

It’s true: That’s what people need to hear. I don’t say it to placate them. I say it because in my worldview everything that we think and feel as humans is normal. My position as a therapist affords me the privilege of peering into the most hushed places in people’s hearts and minds and bearing witness to the thoughts and feelings that dwell there, often ones that they’ve barely admitted to themselves. And because I see across the board – across lines of gender and geography, race and sexual orientation – that we all struggle with the same thoughts and feelings, it’s very easy for me to say, “That’s normal.” The palpable relief I see on my clients’ faces and hear in my readers’ words has led me to see that this normalization is one of the most healing experiences we can have.

Why? Because we live in a culture that promotes shame. We live in a culture that makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us. We live in a culture addicted to the happy face – one that promotes the fantasy that everyone else has it all together – which causes the voice of shame to become easily activated. This shame voice says:

“You’re broken and everyone else is whole.”

“You’re struggling with doubt in your relationship and everyone else is doubt-free.”

“You’re sad around the holidays and look, clearly everyone else is happy.”

“Life should be different: easier, less stressful, perfect in some undefinable way.”

“You should be different: more certain, more stable, kinder, smarter, more successful, more social, further along in your career, pregnant, married.”

“You should be a better mother. You should enjoy your baby every minute of every day.”

“There’s something wrong with you and everyone else is fine.”

In some ways, the excavation of “shoulds” and replacement with normalization underlies every blog post I write and every session I have. From my early work around the wedding transition to my current work around relationship anxiety and the anxiety of being a sensitive human, I’ve been guided by a need to unearth the unrealistic expectations that create the web of shame, the ones that say, “You should only be happy when you get engaged” and “If doubt is present in your relationship then you’re with the wrong partner” and “Pregnancy should only bring joy” and “If you have a thought it must mean it’s true.” The more I’ve unveiled the lies and replaced them with the truth, the more clearly I’ve seen that the net for what’s “normal” is very, very wide. This extends from the daily transitions to the bigger transitions. And it extends, or course, into the holidays.

In this “season of joy”, for example, many people do not feel joyful. They struggle with the holidays, and the struggle is made exponentially worse by the overt expectation that they’re only supposed to feel joyful. As soon as I say, “It’s okay to feel sad during the holidays” and you give yourself full permission to feel sad, the shame is lifted and we’re left only with the tea-leaves of sad at the bottom of our teacup. Without shame at the helm, it’s no longer a “bad” experience. It’s simply the experience of sad. And it’s okay then. Sweet, even, for at the heart of experiencing any emotion at its core comes the beauty of allowing ourselves to be fully alive.

When we carry an idea of how we think we’re “supposed” to feel or act, we’ve immediately annihilated the reality of what is true in this moment and positioned ourselves against an impossible expectation. This is a recipe for shame. When shame enters, compassion leaves; the two cannot co-exist. And without self-compassion, we lose the capacity to breathe into the experience of the moment, which is what allows it to move through.

We’re all human. We all struggle. Even Pema Chodron loses her temper. Even the Dalai Lama gets annoyed. The more I do this work, both my own and helping others navigate their inner realms, the more clearly I see that there’s no “there.” We cycle and spiral around the same core issues at deeper and deeper layers, finding more spaciousness as we dive into the dark and learn to surround ourselves with a higher light. The challenges don’t change as much as our responses to them, which, of course, changes everything.

As we mature, we may become more comfortable with paradox and uncertainty. We may stop striving for definitive answers to life’s unanswerable questions. We may learn to dwell in mystery and find our deepest joy there. But we still hurt. We still feel envy. Longing still curls up into the inner layers of our hearts. We still argue with our spouses and lose patience with our kids.

My client last week said to me, “I have this idea of you and your husband meditating every day together and dancing under the full moon.” I laughed and said, “We meditate sometimes and we dance sometimes but mostly we talk about what to pack in the kids’ lunches and how to keep our boys from fighting with each other.” We are all human, and the work of daily living doesn’t change all that much no matter where we are on the path.

As you enter this holiday week, remember to invite all of your feelings to the holiday table. If you are the only one at the table, pull up a chair for loneliness. If your heart is broken from a broken family, set a place for heartbreak. If happiness bubbles up, pour a glass of bubbly for joy. Allow for gratitude, but don’t force it. Know that longing usually makes a strong appearance around the holidays, for the child inside will always long for the attuned, loving, intact family to magically appear around the table.

When our response to what is is “that’s normal”, the world opens up inside. From there, we can become curious about the feelings and allow them their full expression. This may be tears in response to sadness, shaking in response to fear, reaching out to a friend in response to loneliness, praying in response to disconnection. We may dance or write a poem as the longing unravels like a long red satin ribbon from inside the coil of our heart.  Without the veil of shame squelching them, the feelings are free to be fleshed out in a variety of ways. Then they change. No longer stagnant or frozen, they shape-shift into expression, flowing from our own inner river as we then flow back into the ever-changing and constantly moving river of life.

There is no perfect life. There is no perfect human. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says in The Book of Joy,You are a masterpiece in the making.” Or perhaps we are all already the masterpiece: an unfinished, imperfect, messy and beautiful creation of unique and shared humanity.

73 comments to Two Healing Words

  • Lee

    I devour every single post on your blog. You don’t know how important your words are. They always come at the right time for me. Thank you for giving a voice to people like me who feel that we can’t verbalize how we feel. Thank you for helping me to feel that I am not alone. I can’t wait to do one of your courses. Blessings to you and yours over the Holidays.

  • Kate


    I truly think that this is so important, and I think both yourself and your client hit the nail on the head when you said you let us feel normal. I feel that truly is the greatest gift we can give people, particularly in seasons where people are focused so much on material gifts, if we gave our innate human gifts instead, what a better place the world would be. Sending you a huge amount of gratitude for all your amazing work! Thank you for every blog you write, without you doing your inner work we wouldn’t be here today being soothed by the normality of our messy terrains, but i think the messiness makes it extra beautiful. So thank you very much Sheryl!

    Merry Christmas everyone!!

  • Agnes

    Sheryl – I wondered if you might post today, thank you so much.

    I struggle with ‘shoulds’ really badly from time to time. It’s taking a lot of work to break the lifetime habit of believing in them. I’m really trying with my inner work (not as hard as I could be with tending to the physical realm of my Well – but trying) but I keep getting stuck when I ask ‘what’s needed?’ as the mind chatter starts to build up. I can’t feel anything. My emotions were so readily available when I was an adolescent, it’s so strange. In fact, it has only been in open-hearted relationships where I have struggled to feel. I know that partially this is due to faulty beliefs (“love=heartache”) and possibly expecting far too much in the strength of my emotions (particularly as I am medicated for anxiety, but only lightly). I keep reading Anxiety and Emptiness/Numbness but I just cannot get to the core of me. I’m doing a lot of projecting lately and having trouble disbelieving the voice in my head that feeds me every classic line of why this is wrong. It feels SO real. The pull is incredible. I am reading your blogs every day and have even made a journal of short-hand notes so I have quick cues to remember what I’m supposed to be doing as my head is foggy again. I’m also having incredibly vivid dreams! It amazes me how detailed and rich my dream-world is. I want to understand, but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Can you offer me any advice on how to progress please, Sheryl? Also – is the journalling technique you recommend the one featured in Conscious Transitions TV: Managing Fear?

    Sorry for the long and complex post – it’s probably a good indication of what my brain’s like right now! Despite this, I am still generally content and my progress in a year has been more than I could ever have imagined. I am SO glad I hung on. I love this man and I’m sure that we are plenty ‘good enough’:) to make it.

    Merry Christmas and best wishes to you, your family and followers. I will be forever grateful I found you. xoxo 🙂

    • It’s wonderful that you’re noticing a positive trajectory in your progress and that you’re feeling generally content. Yes, that’s the basic journaling technique that I teach, but I explain it in much more depth in my courses. When you’re ready/able to take the course, you will notice a jump in your work, but it sounds like for now you’re doing a great job at turning inward and learning how to attend to your inner terrain. Blessings to you! xo

  • Britt

    Absolutely delightful, Sheryl. Many individuals are afraid to admit that the holidays, although amazing, can be highly overwhelming. With Social Media with us every single second of every single day, we tend to “FOCUS” on others. We “notice” what we may want, what we have, what we’re “missing,” etc. We start diving into that annoying place of “shoulds” and comparisons. We take in all these messages subconsciously, than we’re stuck wondering, “What is wrong with me?” I think its important to breath and recognize exactly what we’re “taking in” during these “relaxing” moments of the holiday season, because us highly sensitives are especially vulnerbale.

    It was wonderful reading this Sheryl and I’m grateful that you, on this holiday decided to take a little time from your family, just to gift your online family. You’re incredible. Happy Holidays?

    To my fellow “sensitivians”, you’re special, you’re amazing and you’re here. I’d like to encourage you to not give up. Continue to fight for love, because it will get better. HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all.???

    • agnes

      I relate to this so hard. Today is nice, but I have much much nicer days that aren’t so amped up with expectation of joy. I’m not feeling as connected as I’d like, but I know that randomly one unspectacular Tuesday afternoon, I might accidentally have one of the nicest afternoons of my life. I always feel a sense of ‘oh…is this it?’ on holidays and birthdays…whenever I do anything that’s supposed to be a highlight, actually. I have learned to manage my expectations & shoulds much better, but I guess there is still this almost unnoticed expectation that these days are supposed to be some of the best. I’m with my partner today and it’s so lovely, but my head is fast-forwarding to the future & telling me that after 10, 20, 30 years, Christmases together will be routine and dull. But, as I have learned, it will be MY job to create joy, spark and vitality for myself and for us for the rest of our days. Daunting, hm? 🙂

      • Britt

        It’s ok agnes. Just hang on. You’re definitely not alone. Everything you’re feeling and thinking is normal for us, here. Loosen up and don’t take your thoughts seriously.

    • Thank you, Britt. You are beautiful and so generous in your posts always. Many blessings. :).

  • Mhk

    Sheryl this post was the BEST PRESENT and you didn’t even make us wait til Christmas morning 🙂 Christmas was always a time when I felt distinctly abnormal because all the cheery ads and my friends’ lavish celebrations cast into high relief my issues at home and the deep rifts within my family. I have been thinking about the work I have done in your courses since I am home for a few days (a difficult thing, but also worthwhile and important) and I feel like I can see my family through a new lens. One that recognizes the dysfunction and pain, but detaches me from it in a loving way. And that is because I am finally learning to honor whatever it is I feel, and tend to it, and grow that loving adult who sees me and normalizes my feelings. Progress takes time but things are so DIFFERENT on this visit! Thank you for helping that loving adult out on Christmas Eve (she always welcomes inspiration 🙂 Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy New Year to you and your family.

  • Eileen

    Thank you for this post sheryl.

    It’s very early xmas morning here I’m off to do some volunteer work with some elderly people for a few hours as my elderly parents are no longer here. This time of year I slip into projection so very easily as my loss is hard and painful but thanks to you and your normalisation I’m thankful that I know why I do it.

    Blessings to you and yours and everyone whom you support here xx

  • Lindat

    Thank you Sheryl.
    I read the article out loud to my partner, while still in bed.
    When I read the words “remember to invite all of your feelings to the holiday table” I started crying. And I just cried in his arms for a while to let all the grief move through me.
    Thank you for this invitation to self comission on this special day!

  • Lindat

    Happy holidays to you and to your beautiful family 🙂

  • Lauren

    Thank you. Beautiful words. So very true. Touched my heart. God bless.

  • aliveness

    Hi Sheryl,

    It’s nice to hear you speak about longing being more potent around this time. I’m in a loving relationship but each Christmas I find I am filled with doubt and thoughts about how I should be with my ‘perfect’ man instead. I can see that this could be about a desire to build family memories and to be fully alive and mother. But when it is a repeated sense it makes it harder to still. My partner and I have different rhythms and a different sense of humour but shared values, a shared desire to grow and an openness to new experiences that means life can be rich. But because we’re so different it has taken us a while to really know each other; and now I find I wonder…’what if I could just relax and laugh’ which of course I can sometimes. Last yer I was obsessed with height, this with being able to be fully alive in relationship…’.

    Is a different sense of humour a red flag? My heart is sad as I write that…

    • agnes

      aliveness, I can tell you with confidence that I am sure this is not a red flag 🙂 I find myself centred around the humour issue too from time to time. I think it’s very very common. Re-read Sheryl’s series of posts titled “I wish he was…” or “Is he __________ enough?” and apply the same advice. Happy Christmas to you xxx

      • agnes

        ALSO – laughing is letting go & how can you let go and laugh with ease when you are mulling over such worries. When our heads start questioning like this I often imagine that voice inside being a real-life human, breathing down your neck, demanding: ‘laugh more!’ ‘feel happier!’ ‘be aroused!’. Would you do it? Under that pressure? No! When we surrender and let ourselves be, those feelings of ease and lightness float to the surface.

  • Clara

    I felt my heart soften and drop in as I read this post. I remember the first email I wrote you years ago, when I genuinely felt like there must be something terribly wrong with me – a “warped core”, I think was the expression I used. And your beautiful, tender, openhearted reply, where you, with great compassion but also lightness, told me there was nothing wrong with me. That I was normal. You didn’t even know me then, but you were able to confidently reassure me of my place within the true human experience. Then, of course, we worked together over some years and on many issues, but I trace the beginning of my healing and recovery to the receipt of that first email from you. Now, as embark on a career as a therapist myself, I am even more impressed at the confidence with which you are able to genuinely normalize your clients’ experiences. Without knowing us at all at the beginning, you trust in our humanity and our wholeness, when other therapists would keep a question mark open waiting for evidence of possible personality disorders or psychopathology. This faith in our wholeness is so remarkable and so healing. I cannot thank you enough.

  • rosie

    Do you think there’s a cross over between relationship anxiety and BPD? Not sure if I’ve ever seen you reference it in your work but I think there’s a strong correlation between the two. I’d love to hear your thoughts Sheryl. Merry Christmas to you all.

  • Claudia

    How simple yet transformational and revolutionary, “That’s normal.” I will carry this with me all through the holidays and into 2017! Like others have said, your words are exactly what I needed on this xmas morning (:

  • Christina

    Thank you so much, espesially today that I felt so alone, so broken, so ‘insane’, because of still feeling broken due to childhood hurt and present heartbreak due to break up, although everyone told me that I should ‘let it go’. Thank you for legitimize my feelings by saying ‘It’s normal’.

  • Marlene

    Gorgeous!thank you

  • Julia

    Thank you Sheryl . This was beautiful . And really helped today with family visits – the post made me conscious that I often long for “more” in terms of closeness at Christmas and yet everything that was happening relationally was normal and I could see my longing as normal too . This made the events a lot less anxious for me . Instead of seeing what wasn’t there, I could be delighted by the closeness when it was shown . Thanks again for this post. I also loved your articulation of how we hold complexities as we age, and the circular nature of growth. Thanks for sharing – it was the best Christmas gift !

    • Thank you, Julia. Another wonderful by-product of adopting a mindset of self-compassion (which is really what understanding “normal” is all about) is more appreciation! When we accept the longing, we open the door for gratitude to enter. It’s a wonderful equation.

  • Maria

    Those two words probably helped me more than I can express. I was so thankful when I read them the first time on this website, it was like a weight of guilt was lifted from my shoulders. Isn’t it strange, an entire society making you feel bad, ashamed and guilty about your own feelings? Whilst you’re already struggling with grieve and fear?
    I’m currently feel so much better than some weeks ago, I can feel the love and joy again, also because I accepted that it’s ok to feel fear sometimes. But I sometimes feel like I can’t trust this happiness, like my thoughts try to get me back into the doubting stage of anxiety, telling me that my phase of anxiety (about 6 weeks) was way too short to be over, like “are you sure everything feels good now?”, etc. How can I accept that I feel good again without questioning it?
    Greetings from Germany, and I hope you can enjoy the holidays, Sheryl ♡

    • Anxiety and this work around anxiety tends to come in stages and layers. If you’re feeling good I encourage you to embrace it. If the anxiety comes back, you now have some tools and self-compassion with which to address it.

  • Northernlass

    This is beautiful and so spot on. I can totally relate to feeling not completely happy at Christmas. I start off ridiculously excite, around the end of November, and by Christmas time I’m quite depressed. I think it’s because I lost my dad at the age of 15 just after Christmas, and a couple of years ago my lovely partner who also suffered from relationship anxiety at one point left me for a month or so as he was ridden with anxiety, doubts, depression and what-ifs. Now Christmas time provokes such a sense of loss for me, and fear. I’ve been trying to breathe into it the past couple of days and accept. My partner is wonderful and understands why I feel the way I do, but today I’ve noticed that I feel like retreating into myself, and my partner doesn’t understand what’s going on. I’m currently staying at the in-laws and I feel strangely guilty for being here and part of my partner’s life, like I’m intruding on family time. It’s weird because they’re the most welcoming family ever and have opened their arms wide to me, spoiling me just like one of their own. And my partner constantly shows me and tells me how glad he is to have me in his life, and how happy he is to have me with him at Christmas. I often feel like ‘retreating’ when I feel this fear of loss, and these feelings of shame and guilt, trying to shrink into the background. Does anyone else experience this? Christmas blessings to everyone fighting for love and walking along this road of learning together! <3

    • There’s so much loss around the holidays, and the loss and subsequent grief need our loving attention. It sounds like one reason you may retreat is that it’s a way to avoid being vulnerable with your in-laws, and perhaps there’s a belief around not deserving their love and acceptance…? It would be worth exploring what’s underneath the guilt, and also honor that the need to retreat around family gatherings is normal and necessary for sensitive people.

      • Northernlass

        Thank you for your kind and insightful vwords, Sheryl. I know it’s because during the time my partner had a period of doubts/anxiety and separated from me, he went back to his parents where he shared everything that was going on in his head with them. He told them how he thought I wasn’t social enough for him, that since I wasn’t French like him I couldn’t get his jokes, that he hadn’t slept around enough, that we weren’t compatible etc etc… Now he knows these were all fear based thoughts and that in reality we’re fantastic for each other. I know on one level his friends and family can see plainly how good I am for him, but part of me is scared they’re thinking about these ‘issues’ he shared before, and thinking maybe he’s ‘settled’ for me when he could be with someone ‘better’. I know the work necessary lies in detaching from what happened in the past and holding onto the belief that I deserve to be with someone so wonderful, and that I am the blessing in his life he tells me I am. I am not the product of his once-fearful projections, but a wonderful person suited for him and our life together, that I believe God had a hand in creating ;-).

  • M

    Thank you for this post. The holidays make me sad the older I get, especially Christmas. This year was particularly bad, my dad who is a recovering alcoholic decided not to attend our family Christmas. He claims he was wasn’t feeling well well. I also found out his girlfriend from another state wasn’t in town via Facebook and he never mentioned she was here. He even avoided my text message asking why he never mentioned she was coming to town or when she got here. My dad also just sent a group test message to my sister and I wishing us a merry Christmas. He didn’t even call. It just really makes me sad.

  • A

    How do you ladies know when a feeling you’re having is an intrusive thought or if it is actually how you’re feeling? 9or if it’s your heart telling you something? What if that thoughts keeps coming back? Does that mean it has to be true?

    • Keep working....

      Hi A —
      No. just because the thought keeps coming back does NOT mean it’s true! In fact – it’s just super intrusive and annoying! It pops into your head shouting LISTEN !! But that does not make it true in any way. The intrusive thought, as we learn from Sheryl is a gift in fact — if you’re willing to do the work to get UNDER the thought then it can serve you in finally reaching the Feelings Under the Thought. Ask yourself — what is this (intrusive) thought preventing me from feeling? What feeling needs some room to come out?? I remember one day I felt very afraid of knives all of a sudden. I love to cook and this thought never entered my head before. I even briefly thought I’d just eat soup forever and avoid knives all together!! Hahah. My therapist help me realize this “fear” and intrusive thought was really just an expression of how I felt very Vulnerable in my life. Things felt “scary” and dangerous emotionally — I was working on some family issues— and my overactive brain was attaching to intrusive thoughts instead of the Feeling of Vulnerability. It took me a bit to realize, she was exactly right!! I made roomto let myself feel vulnerable and treat my feelings with comfort, warm tea, and a blanket. It worked. Breathe and make room for your feelings. Much love and big hug to you

      • A

        Yea thank you!!! But mine are more like what if I’m not enjoying motherhood as much as I should or maybe I shouldn’t have been one??? Could those still be just intrusive thoughts??

        • agnes

          A – Yes 🙂 still intrusive. As Sheryl writes here: That’s Normal. The more frightened we are of the thought, the more it pokes and prods us. By giving the thought your belief and attention, you are unintentionally growing it (“whatever we water will grow”). I would recommend that you study all of Sheryl’s posts on Intrusive Thoughts and you will see what you’re going through with clearer eyes. You are not the exception 🙂 we are all here because we have experienced our own versions of such thoughts.

          “Until you start to shine the light of consciousness onto the dark labyrinth of your inner world, you and your wounded self are fused into one seemingly seamless unit. If your core self is like your spinal cord, your wounded self is like a serpent wrapped tightly around this center line.” (one of my favourite analogies from Sheryl! – Words From The Wounded Self)

          Much love and listen to Keep Working… – great advice. xx

          • A

            Thank you!!! The only thing is that I have amazing parents and a wonderful family. So how could I still have those thoughts? I feel that it’s not fear. Still could be intrusive and just thoughts??

          • A

            Agnes, please see my message below. Even if I have no fear and grew up with an amazing childhood, could those thoughts still just be intrusive??

      • A

        Thank you!!! The only thing is that I have amazing parents and a wonderful family. So how could I still have those thoughts? I feel that it’s not fear. Still could be intrusive and just thoughts??

      • A

        Keep working, please see my message below. Even if I have no fear and grew up with an amazing childhood, could those thoughts still just be intrusive??

        • If you’re a sensitive person you will be prone to intrusive thoughts regardless of how healthy your childhood was. And even in the healthiest childhood, very few people receive guidance as children for how to attend lovingly to feelings and work with negative thoughts. Nobody is immune to pain, A, and it’s during transitions that old, unworked pain is revealed. This is an opportunity to attend to that pain and offer ourselves another layer of healing. You seem very committed to the belief that you’re an exception and that your thoughts on true, which is another indicator that you’re exactly like everyone else on this site ;).

  • Anna

    Beautiful post, beautiful work. Thank you.

  • Angela

    Thank god for you Sheryl, I know being a therapist is your job,but you treat your clients like their real people with normal feelings, not just number, thats why your dearly loved. You have such an amazing gift Sheryl. I still have those thoughts where i think Life shouldnt be this difficult but like you said its normal and it really is. Sending you kiss and hugs ?

  • Hi

    Really loved this blog!! Last year around the holidays I was filled with doubt and so much anxiety that lasted for months! This year it was totally different! I am still a little anxious but working through it. The anxiety minimizes as soon as I tell myself that it’s okay to feel doubt or any other scary feeling. After I tell myself it’s okay and let the feeling or intrusive thought sit, it doesn’t cripple me so much.

  • Kath

    Thank you Sheryl. Many best wishes for the festive season and the New Year. Thank you for all that you do.

  • Bashley

    This is beautiful. Brought me to tears. Just what I needed today. A quick dose of “it’s all normal. It’s okay”

  • Newly Married

    I had a dream today, that I had found a man who was beautiful inside and who had not hurt me and would treat me good, and not done the things my husband had always done and in the dream I thought to myself how did I not find him sooner. he really treats me good like I always wanted someone to.
    How does this reflect me? how should I interpret this dream? I dont understand it.
    My husband and I are doing very bad and we are at the edge of separation.

  • Jody

    Reading your posts, I notice half way through my breathing and heart rate become slower. Thoughts become more calm. By 3/4 my shoulders have sunk away from my ears and by the end my physical body feels more relaxed – every time! Thank you for helping us to feel “normal”. On a side note, I read this article on shamantic views on mental health and disorders that may be of interest to yourself or other CT members.

    • Thank you, Jody, and what a fascinating article. You can see whence I hail as I was trained in the Jungian model which, fundamentally, is a deeply compassionate framework for understanding human beings. That quote by Joseph Campbell took my breath away.

  • A

    This is another very personal question and I am kind of embarrassed to even ask. But was anyone else scared to have a second child with the fear of not loving them? It took my a while to bond with my first who is now one. I am so embarrassed to ask this and it makes me so sad!!!

  • Britt

    The New Year plus the current hacking war against Russia is giving me major anxiety. I’m hoping 2017 won’t be a blow for blow, blood spilling boxing match. My anxiety is over the top. Its as though I sense the inevitable doom of our country. It’s heartbreaking. I’ll continue to hope for the best, however.

    • It’s a very challenging time of year and a very challenging time in our country and world with a tremendous amount of uncertainty. However, if we look deeply into the underlayers, we will see that we’re being primed for a new story to emerge, one based on connection instead of separateness, one based on love instead of fear. This story will take time to emerge, and we will have to face more darkness before we belly over into light, but we will have a kinder, more compassionate world one day. Two books that may be helpful for you: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible by Charles Eisenstein and The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Sending you love and hugs, Britt.

  • growinglove


    I feel like I am stuck in my journey. I know you do not always reply to comments but I would be very grateful if you could, as I am unable to afford the e-course at the moment. I have a really loving and kind boyfriend of two months, we have known each other for 9 months+. He’s been so caring and supportive, nothing like the other guys I’ve met in the past. He takes care of me and is everything I could’ve wanted in a man. But it seems since the relationship anxiety hit with the “what if you don’t find him attractive?” I’ve just spiralled more and more downwards. I have a history of OCD, so I’m not surprised that it’s latched onto the relationship but it’s making it unbearable to be with him. I feel miserable, and out of control, to the point suicidal thoughts are crossing my head. I can’t get myself to be kind to myself, I no longer find relief in certain posts as much as I want to and I can’t sit with the doubt because I’ve become fused with my thoughts and feelings. In an ideal world (even though my mind is doubting this right now) I want to be happier, more clear minded & to find my peace… But I am ultimately scared that maybe I’m using him, maybe I’m not really into him like I used to be and that I’m just pushing through because I’m scared maybe I won’t find anyone else or the fear of hurting from breaking up and loss. I can’t seem to move forward, it’s 1pm here and I’m still in bed. Sometimes I dream of the pain, but even as I type this I feel like maybe I’m just writing selective things for you to say: yes it sounds like relationship anxiety. Because I have struggled with compulsive reassuring, I don’t want to do it to myself again… But I’m stuck. And I’m scared, of myself. It seems I can’t be around him without feeling tense. I’m always hyper vigilant of everything and am unable to really enjoy my time.

    • Eleonora

      I recognize what you are going through, being scared of yourself and feeling tense and hypervigilant around your boyfriend. I have the same experience. What I am trying to say to myself in these moments, although it is hard, is: “Hang on. Don’t believe everything the mind is saying. The fact that I am feeling miserable is a sign that I am in an anxious state and therefore should not believe what my mind is saying. Try do do something which will make you feel better (take a bath, meet a friend, hike) until the times of clarity comes back. You have all my compassion”. I hope that we will find more and more peace. You are not alone. With best wishes,

  • Eleonora

    Hi Sheryl and fellow sensitives!
    I wanted to wish you all a very happy new year and somehow thank you for the passed year. 2016 has been an extreme year for me. It has been a dark night of the soul, with times of feeling completely nauseous of anxiety when being around my boyfriend and with pain inducing thoughts frequently bombarding me. But the good thing about the increased intensity of the anxiety this year is that I have been forced to start to work with myself and this site has been a major help in that. When I first came here in March I did not know what “ego” was and I only had a vague feeling that it might be true that we are not our thoughts. And I almost did not understand the concept of me having unattended needs. I had thought that the idea is to survive and achieve so why focus on needs? I now see that differently and focus on taking care of myself. Through meditation I can also relate to my thoughts in a new way. I have see that one can (amazingly!) choose which thoughts one engages in. I have understood that my inner parent has jumped on every single thought train until now, thus scaring my inner child. At least now I know that it is a choice what I choose to engage in. Sheryl’s work and you fellow relationship anxiety sufferers have really helped me. 2016 really widened and deepened, both pleasantly and unpleasantly, my experience of life. I thank you and wish you a truly happy new year! Love,

  • Rachel

    ‘There is no perfect life. There is no perfect human. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says in The Book of Joy, “You are a masterpiece in the making.” Or perhaps we are all already the masterpiece: an unfinished, imperfect, messy and beautiful creation of unique and shared humanity’

    I love the thought of us all being perfect in an unfinished and messy way. Just the way we are. Thank you.

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