On the heels of my post on connection, which was both comforting and spike-inducing for some of my readers and course members, I’m elaborating on the topic of connection, specifically this one line:

Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone.

What does this mean? It means that when you’re trapped in the sticky thought-forms of anxiety, you’re not going to feel connected to your partner. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your connection is at its core. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent a day, four months, or two years feeling deeply connected to each other. When anxiety takes hold, it rips all of that away from you in a single moment and steals the aliveness from your life. Anxiety, while often manifesting in the body, is a head state, and if you’re in your head you’re not present and if you’re not present you’re not going to be able to access the feeling of connection. Why? Because we don’t connect head-space to head-space. We connect heart-to-heart. That’s where the pool of love lives.

As a member shared on the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety/Conscious Weddings E-Course forum:

So I know I am not the only one who was spiked by Sheryl’s recent blog post on connection! But for me, this is the part that spiked me:

Here’s my definition: Connection is a sense of home and safety. It’s the person you long to be with when the world feels like it’s crumbling. It’s your safe base and your safe haven, the person to whom you have healthfully and securely attached even when your ego wants to pull you away and tell you otherwise. Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone, but we’re talking about the baseline place beyond fear, the place beyond anxiety.

Okay, this is how I also define connection, and this is how I felt with D for just over a wonderful year. But honestly, without exaggeration, as SOON as that first ‘what if I don’t love him?’ thought hit me and the anxiety took over my body, that sense of home, that safe haven, that connection dropped out of my body and it never came back. Even after working through so so much of my anxiety and thoughts, even after getting to a good place where I don’t worry about my relationship as much as I used to, 9 months later and that lovely connection hasn’t come back. Those loving feelings haven’t come back. In fact I spend 99% of my time feeling disconnected and detached from D, and it’s made worse of course by the fact we are long distance now. It’s not in a way which makes me want to leave, because I desperately want to work on it and get it back, because I KNOW I can feel this way with him, I know he does feel like home.

To which I responded:

Did you see my response to your comment on the blog? Please read it and let it sink in. Connection comes first and foremost from your own self. If you’re disconnected from yourself, you’re going to be disconnected from your partner. It’s the same with sexual aliveness: If you’re cut-off from your own aliveness, you’re going to be shut-down sexually with your partner. It’s your responsibility to light your own match and kindle your own fire. So what I hear in those who were spiked by my post is, on one layer, a refusal to take responsibility for their own aliveness and to do the work to help you reconnect to your own sense of Self. Ultimately, it’s about filling your well of Self. When the well is full, you will be connected internally which will then lead to connection with your partner. And if a sense of home was your baseline when your heart was open, then you know it lives in you when the channels are clear.

Now, what does it mean to take responsibility for your aliveness and not fall into the number one pitfall of relationship anxiety, which is believing the projection that says that your lack of connection or aliveness is because you’re with the wrong person? It means, first and foremost, recognizing that you’re in a projection! This is 90% of the work. The rest is practice.

Imagine that the stories you’re telling yourself (your projections) are suspended like orbs around your mind and heart. These orbs carry a tremendous gravitational pull urging you to direct your attention to them and regard their tales as truth. If you believe their stories, you will remain stuck in their thought-forms, as the stories themselves are designed to convince you to keep your partner at arms’ length so that you don’t take the risk of loving.

The stories are the gatekeepers. As long as the stories are in charge, there’s no access to the heart. That’s their entire mission: to keep your heart protected behind the barriers of thought-forms. And if there’s no access to the heart, you’re not going to feel connected to yourself or your partner.

The path to break free, then, is to work diligently with your thoughts and remember that your mind is trying to protect you from the realm of feeling: the uncertainty, the unknown, the grief, the vulnerability, and the risk of loss. What weakens the force of the gravitational pull of the stories is naming what’s happening over and over and over again. “I’m in my head” or “There’s an intrusive thought” or ” I’m telling myself a story”. When you pop the bubbles of the gatekeepers – the stories – you drop into your body and feel your feelings. Then you open. Then you can connect.

You’ve probably had an experience of this happening: You’re trapped in the bubbles of the stories and then, perhaps from doing inner work, perhaps in a therapy session, perhaps from working through the e-course, the bubble pops and you suddenly see clearly that the problem is not your partner. Once the bubble pops, you drop into your body and feel the feelings that have been barricaded inside the anxiety. You’ve thawed out and can now open to yourself and your partner. This can take months of practice to access the heart more regularly, but even one experience of naming your stories and dropping into your core self can serve as a baseline reminder of what you know to be true when anxiety isn’t in the way.

Remember this: The degree to which the stories are activated and pulsing is the degree to which you are afraid

to be here

in this body

in this moment

with all of the messy, uncomfortable feelings that are a part of being human.

The anxiety is unmanageable; the feelings are not. And the anxiety comes from attaching to the stories, which is another way of saying that when we’re attached to the stories we’re abdicating responsibility for our inner wellness and wholeness. This is our work in relationships, at work, in friendship, with family, and in life: to take full and passionate responsibility for ourselves, to look at our stuck points and ask for help in illuminating our blind spots so that we can shift from a habit of blame to a habit of vulnerability with a mindset of growth shining the way. This is, perhaps, the hardest and most important work we can do in the world, and it must begin with you.

Author's Bio: 

Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her e-courses and her website. She has appeared several times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", as well as on "Good Morning America" and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, "Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes", visit her website at http://conscious-transitions.com. And if you're suffering from relationship anxiety – whether single, dating, engaged, or married – give yourself the gift of her popular eCourse