There are hardly words to describe what we’ve endured this year as a species. We’re exhausted. We’re tired of being on high alert. We’re at our wits’ end trying to take care of our children without enough help. We’re tired of sharing too-small spaces with too many people. As Krista Tippett and clinical psychologist Christine Runyan discussed on a recent OnBeing podcast, our nervous systems are stressed and dysregulated, as they’ve been since the moment the pandemic hit and our flight-fight-freeze response was activated. Most of us have been in varying states of fear and uncertainty ever since. The yearlong hypervigilence and our attempts to make sense of this threat has resulted in our current exhaustion and subsequent irritation, moodiness, apathy, and brain fog.
In times of trauma, we typically turn toward our loving partners to help us regulate and find emotional safety. But when we’re trapped with our one special person – or in the constellation of a family – the proximity and lack of oxygen flow that comes with the normal in-breath and out-breath of daily life is too much and causes us to withdraw, feel irritated more often than usual, and even question if this is the person you want to be with. Add pandemic stress and fatigue to a mind prone to relationship anxiety, which means you’re already familiar with the mental territory of questioning if this is the “right” partner for you, and you’ve created a recipe for heartache, distance, doubt, and emotional withdrawal.
I’ve heard of more separations and divorces this year than ever before. Social distancing in the outer world has filtered into emotional distancing at home. For the reality is that even if you’re not on the verge of separating, the stress and isolation of the pandemic has caused many people to turn away from instead of toward their loving partners.
Yet we need our partners more than ever. We need to find our way back into their warm laps and loving hearts. The person you love most is your best chance at regulation. But just as we’re going to have to learn how to re-enter the world and re-grow the skills that allow us to be in more regular social contact, so we need to learn how to see our partners through clear-eyes and remember that they’re our safest person, the one we trust and love most in the world.
How? How do we find our back when we’ve been shut down and shut in for so long?
Through following the Love Laws and Loving Actions that I teach in Open Your Heart. I created the Open Your Heart course almost ten years ago as a followup course to Break Free From Relationship Anxiety as I could see that lack of attraction and not feeling “in love” enough were two of the biggest spikes that showed up for those struggling with relationship anxiety. But as I’ve ushered over a thousand people through this course it has become evident to me that the Love Laws and Loving Actions that I teach aren’t only relevant to those who struggle with relationship anxiety.
These Laws and Actions are the building blocks of a healthy relationship. They’re the nuts-and-bolts mindsets and actions that, when practiced, lead to an open heart and help you shrink fear so that you can see through clear eyes. During times of ease, they’re practical reminders that help us stay connected to our partners by focusing on the actions that grow love.
And during times of heartache they can offer tangible stepping stones that can help us find our way back to each other as we’re stumbling home from the war of this pandemic. They can gently and clearly offer a roadmap back into the heart of the most important person to you, the person who has stood by your side during this year and perhaps for the past twenty years.
Spring is arriving in the Northern hemisphere and on her warm breath she whispers, Open. Open to new birth. Open to possibility. Open to the one you love.
To open doesn’t only mean that we open to goodness and love and spring’s fragrance that greets us at daybreak.
To open truly means that we open even to the closed places, to the projections, to the intrusive thoughts that say, “I don’t love you enough or in the right way. I’m not attracted to you. I wish you looked or acted different.”
To open means that we learn how to meet the fear-based thoughts and recognize them as a bridge that leads us to love.
To open means that we take the risk to emerge from the shell of this past year and remember what it’s like to hold hands and hearts and bodies with our partner.
This is what I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction for your partner. Are you ready to take Spring’s hand and find your way back into the arms of your loving partner after this tumultuous, challenging year? Now is the time to return. Now is the time to learn how to open to fear so that you can find the jewel of love that lives at the center of your scared, grieving, and protected heart. The 18th round of this course begins on Sunday, April 10th, 2021, and spots are filling fast. I look forward to meeting you there.