One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How come other people don’t suffer in this way?” It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about relationship anxiety, friendship anxiety, intrusive thoughts, sexuality anxiety, social anxiety, shame, work struggles, insomnia, compulsions, or any other hook that anxiety hangs its hat on: when you’re the one suffering it feels like you’re the only one suffering.
One of the reasons why we struggle with so much shame around anxiety is because we’re disconnected from the real fabric of humanity, the village where friends meet at the well or in the field and talk about their places of struggle. Instead, we walk through the world with the glossy overlay of social media and mainstream media filtering our perceptions and expectations, leading us to believe that everyone else has it figured out and we’re the only ones suffering.
The short answer to the question “How come other people don’t suffer in this way?” is: everyone suffers, you’re just not seeing it. Because I’m in the position I’m in, I know firsthand how many people suffer, but all you have to do is look closely around you – not at the shiny social media and celebrity posts but at the hard facts and statistics – to see that suffering is universal.
To be human is to suffer.
But it’s not enough to hear it from me. In order to know that you’re not alone in your particular brand of suffering, and that there’s a world of exquisitely sensitive, deeply compassionate, highly moral people out there who struggle in very similar ways that you struggle, you need to hear it firsthand. You need to sit face-to-face with these beautiful humans and, in the container of a safe circle, learn about what it means to know and be known, to see and be seen.
You would think it’s our birthright to connect with other like-minded-and-hearted people, and it is. But because our world has become so large and disconnected, and because high sensitivity is a temperamental trait that only occurs in 15-20% of the population and is often met with shame and judgement from early caregivers, it’s not always easy to find your tribe.
This is one of the reasons why I created my 9-month course, Break Free From Anxiety. Through the nine-month format where we meet regularly in larger groups, and through being placed into small groups of people who are struggling in a similar way as you and are on a similar place on their healing path, layers and layers of healing occur.
As Bryn of the 2020-21 round shared about the women in her small group and other aspects of the course:
“It is hard to put into words the effect Sheryl’s work has had on my life. But to say it is life-changing is as accurate a description as any.
“Sheryl’s Break Free From Anxiety course is not the first course I have taken of hers, but I can say it is the course that allowed the work, for me, to go from words, thoughts, and ideas, to action. By the end of the course, I could feel the work become a part of me, and I think I can attribute that to a few things. I believe it was from learning in community through the connective group calls where Sheryl so graciously and lovingly guided us, to the individualized small group discussions where Sheryl partnered us based on our similar anxieties, to the length of the course that allowed for authentic growth and change to occur. Personally, I can say that after 9 months, I truly felt like I birthed a new version of myself.
“I know one concern I had about the course was keeping up with the daily emails for 9 months, and sometimes I did get behind, but when I got to the point where I tried to make it a daily habit, I grew to love having the space to focus my energy each day on Sheryl’s work, to turn inward, and start my day off by checking in with my soul. I also grew to love the women in my small group. We continue to connect even after the course is over because we share a special bond. We commented early on in our calls how interesting it was that we were able to be so vulnerable with strangers essentially, but because Sheryl partnered us up based upon our similar desires and struggles, we got to a layer of truth and connection more quickly than we could have imagined. They are now treasured friends on the anxiety warrior journey and a gift that has come from Sheryl’s work. Another gift that came was the ability to be more forgiving of myself, forgiving of my humanness, and forgiving of my mistakes. I am also more curious about my thoughts, and my projections, my inner world, and getting to the truth. And thanks to Sheryl, I have the tools to get there. As you can see I’ve gained a lot!
“If you are wondering if you can handle 9 months of anxiety work, you can, you don’t have to do it perfectly, you just have to open your heart and let it bring the gifts that are waiting for you. Whatever you do will be enough, because if the desire is there this could be an amazing experience for you too. Because as Sheryl says, there is just learning and growing and healing waiting on the other side. And I am forever grateful to Sheryl for the labor of love that went into creating this course that made such a difference for me.”
And as Sabrina from Los Angeles shared about the course and her small group:
“As a professional real estate investor, I look at the return on investment of things in which I invest my time and capital. Here’s the ROI from Sheryl’s 9-month course:
“This course cured my lifelong insomnia. This in itself is worth millions in terms of my physical and mental health. On the rare occasion when I do have it, I’m not scared of it, I know why I’m having it and I know how to tend to my body, heart and soul so that I can gently and peacefully get back to sleep.
“The group calls and the small group calls were priceless in teaching me that I’m not alone, I have never been alone, and I am never alone even when I do feel like that. These calls were worth more than any therapy I have ever done in my entire life.
“I finally understand that there is nothing wrong with me. From the time I was a child, for as long as I can remember, I have always felt that there was something deeply and inherently wrong with me. This is the farthest from the truth. I’m now loving and gentle with myself yet I also know when I need to push past resistance for my own growth and for my own good. I know better how to tell when I don’t want to do something due to resistance/fear or when I don’t want to do something because I truly need rest.
“Without any doubt or hesitation, I can say this was the best investment I have ever made on myself.
“Thank you, Sheryl, from the bottom of my heart.”
Your tribe is waiting for you. As I’m watching the early signups come in, I’m heartened to see the global population that will be gathering for this third round. From the UK to Sweden, from Canada to Hawaii, from Belgium to Germany, from across the United States to India, anxiety and shame are the great equalizers. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, or any other category by which we identify and classify ourselves: the way anxiety shows up for the highly sensitive person crosses all boundaries and is one of our most profound messengers to say, “The time to heal is now. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to claim the truth of who you are and step more fully into your light. And in order to do that, you have to soften and release layers of shame and receive the roadmap you should have received in early years for how to navigate your inner world more effectively so that you can bring the fullness of who you are to an outer world that desperately needs you.”
The third round begins on Saturday, September 19th, 2021, and I very much look forward to seeing you there. Learn more and sign up here.
Note: Even if you choose not to participate in the small groups you’ll still benefit from the group aspects, including the coaching calls which I lead approximately every two weeks throughout the duration of the course.