“One of the most powerful vaccinations against anxiety is to know that you are fully loved.” ~Sheryl Paul in the The Wisdom of Anxiety
Linda: Large numbers of people live with the daily challenge of struggling with anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of dread or foreboding associated with a danger that does not exit in the present moment. The anxiety shows up in the forms or worry, intrusive thoughts, obsessions, insomnia, compulsive behaviors and symptoms in the body.
A small percentage of those who suffer with anxiety have full-blown panic attacks. The vast majority has a lesser, but still vitality sapping chronic form of anxiety. They project an image to the world that they are confident, hiding their anxiety in shame. But behind that bravado is insecurity, with negative internal messages like “You’re broken. You’re not up the task. You’re bad and wrong. You’re weak. You’re not smart enough. You are fundamentally damaged. Don’t even bother to try, you’re going to fail.”
When we have a contract with a partner to use the relationship to become a more loving person, we come out of hiding from behind the image to be real with each other. Then the process of diluting the intensity of anxiety begins in earnest. We come to understand that we are all such a mixed bag, having both our signature strengths and weak suits. We have great accomplishments and our magnificent failures. We are made up of our golden wonderfulness and our dark shadow. This applies to all of us from the most successful, accomplished, wealthiest and the most enlightened, and those who appear ordinary, or even those who don’t live up to society’s expectations. The common denominator is that we all long for-love.
Finally having our exquisite sensitivity met with gentleness, we begin to relax. When another meets our fear, sadness, loneliness, anger and disappointment with loving-kindness, that acceptance inspires us to make room for all of our feelings rather than hide them. With daily practice of meeting our own inner thoughts and feelings with curiosity and wonder rather than shame, fear, and hatred, we evolve to recognize ourselves as adequate to meet the challenges of our life. Then our anxiety levels go down.
Loving As Is and Being Loved As Is
We want to be loved with our flaws and our greatness. Those of us who manage to experience being loved “as is” have well-being that others do not have a chance to enjoy. In the experience of being loved with our imperfections, we are empowered to give love to others as they are. The practice of loving fully is a positive cycle. When we give our love to another, well aware of their imperfections, that spaciousness allows us to become more self-accepting and self-loving.
We all long love to be loved as is.
It is a mighty practice to notice when we are reluctant to give our love because we have aversion or reactivity to something that the other person has said or done. In that moment of choice, if we give love instead of withholding it, we are moving along the path to becoming a great lover. There are extreme circumstances where this practice would not be wise. If the relationship is characterized by physical or emotional abuse, the only skillful choice is to remove yourself from harm’s way. But most circumstances are not that severe. It is only ordinary garden-variety resistance that keeps abundant love from flowing freely.
Lowering anxiety leads to many more benefits:
- Helps me to feel accepted exactly like I am
- Rather than encouraging complacency, it inspires me to be more of who I can be
- Prompts me to a higher level of responsibility
- Allows me to feel abundant so I have more to contribute
- Challenges me to grow and develop more of myself
- Brings forth my potential, my best self
- Allows me to experience peace of mind
- Gives me a full soul tank so that I work in a more focused and efficient way
- Encourages me to take risks trusting that I have a safe haven to return to
- Helps me feel safe in a challenging world
- Helps me accept my imperfections
- Builds self-esteem and self-confidence
- Allows me to feel securely bonded
- Propels me to pass on the love to all those whose lives I touch
The practice of consistently giving and receiving love is mighty force. The compassion that we bring to our so-called flaws and those of others opens up a new world of expansive freedom. When we formalize an agreement that we will be real and authentic with each other, we show our tender underbelly. By being completely vulnerable, the love that pours in is what lowers the anxiety. We relax into who we truly are, healed by being fully loved. Don’t take my word for it. Look to your own experience to discover what is true for you.