If you learn how to stop relationship anxiety, you’ll find peace, joy, and hope. These tips for stopping anxiety from affecting your relationship are inspired by a reader’s comment – and by The Parable of the Hungry Wolf.
One of my favorite books on letting go of insecurity and anxiety is The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. She teaches us how to cultivate courage, compassion, and connection – and to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” Relationship anxiety stems from not feeling like you’re enough, and letting fear of imperfection overcome your feelings of being worthy of love and belonging.
Here’s what one reader says about relationship anxiety: “I try to stop anxious feelings from affecting my relationship with my boyfriend, yet every now and then I fall into panic mode and just need something to pull me out of it. Your post on what to do when your boyfriend stops texting you (along with your prayer on how to stop relationship anxiety) snapped me out of that desperate mindset. You’re absolutely right, we have to find happiness, love and validation within ourselves first and foremost then the rest will fall into place.”
How do you find love, happiness, and validation within yourself? Read this parable, think about how I put it into practice in terms of stopping relationship anxiety, and tell me what you think…
The Parable of the Hungry Wolf
“A fight is going on inside me,” said an old Sioux chief to his grandson. “It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.”
The grandson nodded. He knew the wolf his grandfather was talking about, because it was alive in him.
“The other wolf inside me is good,” said the grandfather. “That wolf is patience, joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“Yes,” said the grandson. “That wolf is inside me, too.”
“Both wolves are fighting inside me to win,” said the old Sioux Indian chief. “This same fight is going on inside you – and in every other person, too.”
The grandson thought for a minute. Then, he asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
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“The one you feed,” said the old chief.
How to Stop Relationship Anxiety
These tips on how to stop anxiety from ruining your relationship are for people who are willing to try putting “cognitive behavioral therapy” into practice (I don’t just put parables into practice on this blog!). Cognitive behavioral therapy is about changing your negative thought patterns into positive ones, so you can change how you think and behave.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is about feeding the right wolf, and starving the wrong one. It can be a very effective way to learn how to stop relationship anxiety – unless you are prone to feeling overwhelmingly anxious.
Recognize normal anxious feelings vs. versus anxiety attacks
In How to Help Your Boyfriend Cope With Anxiety Attacks, I discuss what “normal” relationship anxiety is, and how they’re different from panic or anxiety attacks. We all feel anxious from time to time, insecure, worried, afraid. The difference between normal anxious feelings and panic or anxiety attacks is the severity and length of the anxious feelings. If you are prone to panic attacks, you need to talk to a doctor or counselor. But if you just want to stop your low-level relationship anxiety from affecting how you function with your partner, then you may simply need to learn how to focus your feelings.
Stop feeding the wolf of relationship anxiety
The Parable of the Hungry Wolf is about the feelings you feed and the feelings you allow to starve and die. Your feelings are directly connected to your thoughts and actions, right? So you need to think about how your thoughts affect you – and your relationships.
If you keep allowing yourself to think, “I am a stupid, fat, and horrible person and my partner deserves someone better than me,” then you’ll feel anxious, worried, tense, and insecure. You will fall into the pit of relationship anxiety and your anxiety wolf will get big and strong. Instead, you need to feed the wolf of acceptance, peace, and self-love. How you do that depends on your personality, lifestyle, values, and beliefs.
Find practical ways to feed the right wolf
Long ago, I learned how to stop anxiety and worry from keeping me up all night by feeding my good wolf in practical ways. How? One simple way is sleep. I decided that getting a good night’s sleep was a far more important and effective way to deal with a stressful day than being tired, grumpy, and overwhelmed because I didn’t sleep well. Getting enough sleep is an action that feeds my peaceful, joyful, calm, focused wolf.
What are some practical ways you can feed the healthy wolf inside you? Think about how your behaviors and actions affect how you feel, think, and act in the world. This is a very practical and effective tip on how to stop relationship anxiety – but it’s different for everyone. How you do it depends on who you are, what you love in life, and why you think you’re here on earth.
Get help with anxious feelings that overwhelm you
Do you often feel overwhelmed with relationship anxiety, job anxiety, school anxiety, or social anxiety? Talk to someone about your feelings. Get help. A simple parable and blog post on how anxiety affects relationships isn’t enough.
A cognitive behavior therapist can help you deal with your relationship anxiety – and it may only take a visit or two. Or, you could use a resource for dealing with anxiety, such as The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. Sometimes you just need a little guidance, like a coach or a mentor, to help learn how to stop feeding the wolf of anxiety and fear.
Learn how to deal with the stigma of anxiety
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown discusses how difficult it is to be authentic and real. Our society wants us to all be the same, want the same things, compare ourselves to each other, push for the same agendas and issues. Any type of emotional, psychological, or spiritual struggle is looked down on – and perhaps even mocked. There is stigma attached to admitting that we need help.
One of the most important things you can do when you’re learning how to stop relationship anxiety is to accept the stigma and move forward anyway. How? By getting support from people who know what it’s like to deal with anxious feelings.
If your relationship anxiety is related to feelings of insecurity, read How to Stop Feeling Insecure in Your Relationship.
I welcome your thoughts on how to stop relationship anxiety below. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but writing about your experience might help you deal with anxious feelings in your relationship.
My prayer for you is that you learn to lean on God, for that is the best tip on how to stop relationship anxiety! May you learn to feed the “hungry wolf” of peace, love, joy, and faith. May you rely on God’s hope and Jesus’ strength for your future. May you trust, and let go of all the anxieties, fears, and insecurities that affect your relationship.