Is Your Anxiety the Devil in Your Relationship? | Michele Willmott
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Is Your Anxiety the Devil in Your Relationship?

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Something I always say to my clients when they come to me feeling anxious in their relationship is "underneath your anxiety is a desire. It all likelihood it will be a desire to feel a certain way right now rather than feeling anxious but also it will be a desire to have a different outcome or feel differently in your relationship!"

Is this how you feel?

Maybe you are worried that your partner is not enough for you? You want them to be more passionate, more alive, more dynamic?
Or maybe you have a deep down concern that your partner is going to leave you & find someone who is more suitable, funnier, more attractive?

These examples, amongst many others, are very real for many people & can cause much disturbance & destruction to otherwise healthy relationships. 

My rule of thumb is: if you know that you love your partner & there is no abuse in the relationship, then this is an opportunity for healing & growth within the relationship & for you! In fact I know that working through your anxiety can open up your relationship beautifully & serve to deepen the connection & allow for a healthier, more unconditional type of love. I know that because it happened to me & it has happened to many of my clients!

Why is the anxiety there?

It is usually there because it is based on an old wounding we experienced when we were young & it is based on a belief that is out dated & bears very little semblance to the truth. It may also be there due to health reasons, hormonal imbalances, work related stress & it may just appear because it is time for us to move beyond old conditioned patterns of behaviour that are not serving us in our relationship.

Anxiety can be paralysing.
It grips us & we are often more scared of the anxiety as a feeling in itself & thus try to do our utmost to 'get rid' of it. Try as we may however, it often isn't that simple.

Why we shouldn't try to 'get rid of it!'

When we try to 'get rid of' a feeling by making it wrong, we actually dismiss a part of ourself, the part that feels anxious. Even though it makes sense that we want the feeling to go away because it feels scary, we need to acknowledge the fact that a part of us does feel anxiety & given the story & the thoughts going round in our mind, it is hardly surprising that we feel anxious.
My work, is therefore to help people learn to be okay with their anxiety, to become more accepting of it & in doing so be able to manage it when it does arise & give themselves the reassurance & love that they once did not receive from a parent or caregiver. 

Part of the struggle is therefore not giving the anxiety a bit of space to be heard & being in resistance to it. But the other part is not acknowledging the desire underlying the anxiety. 

Desire & Anxiety are two sides of the same coin (& this is one of the keys to help you move beyond the anxiety)

Changing your relationship to anxiety requires changing your relationship to desire.

The problem with desire!

We have been conditioned to have a negative relationship with desire. We are told that we shouldn't get our hopes up in case things don't work out. We don't want to feel the disappointment of a desire unfulfilled.

But this is where our conditioning has failed us. We have been encouraged to believe that our happiness, our fulfilment is all available outside of us. So in relationship terms, our partner, becomes the person who is going to provide us with all the love & support we need to be happy. We become attached to this ideal & then of course start to feel bad when things start going against this ideal. Our partner becomes the problem when we are not happy or when we are anxious & we feel that they have to change or more drastically we have to leave, in order for us to be happy again.

You can see how desire gets a bad rap & it is because of this way of relating to it that we do not allow ourselves to open up to the normal, healthy feelings of desire that come with being a human being!

Desire is your lifeblood!

Desire is normal, it helps us feel alive. To want to have something, or to want to feel a certain way is natural & it is okay. Allowing ourselves to yearn to feel the feeling of desire is more than okay & we have to learn to make room for it.
At the very same time we have to make room for our feelings of disappointment, because life can be disappointing, no we don't always get what we want.

But blocking all of these feelings (both the desire & the disappointment) can create anxiety because we end up trying to micro-manage our lives & other people.

The challenge here is therefore to let ourselves feel our yearnings without becoming attached to the outcome. Feel the good feeling for the sake of it, allow the feeling of expansion in your body, it doesn't have to mean anything other than allowing yourself to feel good in the moment. Quite the opposite of what anxiety feels like.

Remember to ask yourself when you notice the anxiety: what am I wanting right now? What am I wanting to feel in this moment? What do I want for my relationship, more what?

What you need to know about anxiety & the ego!

The egoic mind is a cunning thing. I am not making it bad, because again we would be dismissing part of ourselves. But, the ego can create a whole load of anxiety so it is worth being aware of this. Your ego does not like hard work. It wants to keep you safe, toeing the line & also feeling separate & in fear. It will often say to people 'you need to leave this relationship because he isn't enough for you.' Can you sense how anxiety producing this would be to someone? Unfortunately the ego is not aware enough to realise that you would very likely just create the same set of circumstances in your next relationship. 

The Ego is scared of Love

Your ego does not want you to feel unconditional love because then you do not feel attached or bound to 'getting' your love outside of yourself. As long as you are looking externally you are still feeling separate & on your own. 
Be very aware of this if you are feeling anxiety in your relationship, your ego could well be trying to stop you & your relationship from growing & experiencing the kind of love that you are actually yearning for. 

Let Your Anxiety Have a Voice

A part of acknowledging your anxiety is to try & give it a voice, let it be heard. If you feel concerned about expressing it to its full extent, just saying "I am feeling anxious' or "I am noticing that I have been feeling anxious a lot lately & I think my ego is doing a good job on me" should help to diffuse some of the energy surrounding the anxiety. Of course, if you can be fully open & honest about what the real fear is even better, it does not mean you have to act on it & then your partner knows what is going on & is in a better position to support you.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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About the Author

Michele Willmott, Relationship Coach & Mentor, empowers men, women & couples to create real, healthy relationships through masterful communication.

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