Relationship Anxiety

Part of the benefits of being in a loving relationship is that we know we can come to the other person to get our needs met.

However, sometimes we find our needs are not met by our partner, much in the same way that our needs were not met fully in our upbringing. This can cause us considerable anxiety, and can create arguments and conflict in a relationship. Being able to “grow” the relationship so that it contains and soothes our anxieties and distresses-making it a place that not only we can go to for comfort (the arms of our loved one) but we carry in our hearts is deeply important and a part of a living, breathing relationship.

But it’s only part of the picture.

We also have a responsibility to hold our own anxiety and grow our “anxiety container” ourselves, to rely just on our partners to do this is guaranteed to wear them out and hack them off big style.

How do you grow your “anxiety container?”

The must basic step is to accept that you are anxious, that the old brain part of you is sending these signals to new brain, and that only you can change this; no good blaming or depending on your partner.

Then become a proactive participant in your own self soothing. This might involve the following practices:

  • Stop getting your primary validation from your partner: learn to find what it is that’s good about you
  • Start to stand on your own two feet and face your anxiety in a full and honest way
  • Grow the parts of you that you found in your partner (e.g. she’s more kind than I am, he’s more fun: these are the parts of you that you’ve given away)
  • Let your thoughts and feelings come and go in the vast sky of your awareness-don’t make Big Stories out of Small Stories
  • Realise your partner can’t be everything for you -and actually is not meant to be
  • Look at your anxieties as obstacles that will promote growth
  • Give yourself some time out
  • Breathe!-ground yourself again and again
  • Re-relate to your partner from not just a place of calm, but an attitude of mindfulness

Other personal techniques to lower anxiety include:

  • Have a mental image of a safe and soothing place. Should be your choosing and include taste, smell, texture, colour, feel, sight
  • Paint, draw, or scribble on a big piece of paper with red ink or paint
  • Express your feelings in a journal
  • Write down any negative feelings you may be experiencing and then rip the paper up
  • Listen to music that expresses what you may be feeling
  • Have a hot bath or shower
  • Pet or cuddle a dog or cat
  • Self-massage neck, hands, and feet
  • Listen to calming music
  • Call a friend
  • Squeezing a stress ball or squishing Play-Do or clay