My boyfriend says I’m too anxious and it’s starting to affect our relationship. He’s super easy-going—it’s one of the things that attracts me to him. I can tell he’s losing patience with me, but I don’t think I can change. I don’t know how. I don’t want to lose him. Please help!
You’re standing at a crossroads. One path leads to your man. Another path leaves him behind, but allows you to continue to default to anxiety. A third path is a doorway to the unknown. What do you choose?
Being faced with a decision may spark more anxiety, but other responses are possible if you train yourself. It requires self-love and willpower because anxiety is worry on steriods. To reduce anxiety, believe in your ability to manage whatever might come your way.
Right now, you are invested in the fear that life will level you. Instead, greet worries with curiosity: What do I gain by clinging to this thought? Don’t answer: “Nothing.” The gain might be difficult to identify because it’s negative. For example: “I get to stay stuck.” For anxious personalities, being stuck might be more comfortable than the challenge of learning to release anxiety and live with more freedom.
After confronting your fear, identify three personal successes—any three! Would you be more likely to experience a repeat of your success, or have a perceived fear materialize? What could you think, feel and do to sway things in a positive direction? The exercise of disengaging from worries is powerful and healing. When you confront anxiety-riddled thoughts as a daily practice, you’ll feel lighter and more confident.
I love this soothing advice from entrepreneur Marie Forleo: “Everything is figureoutable.”
It’s positive self-talk you can repeat when you feel overwhelmed. This is how it might play out at work: Imagine a co-worker who perpetuates micro-aggressions. It would be easy to spiral into drama. In seconds, you can convince yourself you will lose your temper, lose your job and be on the street. Or you can acknowledge the pain of being mistreated, take time to breathe, write about what you gain by clinging to a worst-case scenario and then choose a mature course of action. Self-love includes accepting that it’s your job to take care of you. In the process, you prove to yourself that “Everything is figureoutable.”
That brings us to you and your boyfriend. His ultimatum means he’s done with being your therapist, your savior, your personal healer. He’s asking you to shoulder those roles for yourself. If you persist in believing that love means he must manage your uncomfortable feelings, your relationship will end. So see this crossroads as an invitation into a better relationship with yourself. Anxiety is a coping mechanism. Let your overworked muscle rest. Tend to the wounds that inspire the thoughts that create the anxious behaviors that are driving your man away.
One last thing: Reduce or eliminate your intake of food and drinks that heighten anxiety. Gradually cut caffeinated beverages and sugary products from your diet. It’s no coincidence that anxiety has skyrocketed in industrial countries alongside the rise of caffeine-laced drinks.