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Public speaking may be our number one conscious fear but Dr. Jordana Jacobs, a clinical psychologist in NYC, believes that the fear of dying, or death anxiety, is indeed what we’re most afraid of.

Dr. Jacobs’ training at Memorial Sloan Kettering working with terminally ill cancer patients, her studies in Northern India, and her Vipassana meditation practice inspired her research on the complex relationship between death anxiety, death awareness and love.

Her dissertation, entitled “Till Death do us Part: The Effect of Mortality Salience on Satisfaction in Long-term Romantic Relationships” specifically explored the ways in which priming for death has the potential to increase intimacy in partnerships.

What does death awareness mean exactly?

Simply put, the more we’re conscious of the impermanence of everything in life, the more present we can be, and the deeper we can love.

We more we accept death, the more fully we can love everything around us, including your partner.

Jordana and I also touch on the concept of ‘the one’ and the ‘perfect’ partner and how the quest for finding ‘the one’ is a defense against finding love.

We discuss Esther Perel’s concept that ‘fire needs air’ in the context of giving your partner and your relationship space to keep the excitement high, and we touch on several ways to reduce death anxiety while increasing death awareness.

EP31 Death Anxiety and LoveDr. Jordana Jacobs in her NYC office.

What you’ll learn (or why you should care):

• How death awareness and death anxiety affect your capacity to love

• 5 ways to reduce your death anxiety and increase your death awareness

• How looking for ‘the one’ is a defense against love

• Why we cling to love instead of embracing death

More on Jordana Jacobs

Find Jordana Jacobs on her website and on Instagram.

Watch Jordana’s talk on What Death Can Teach Us About Love

Today’s Quotes

“When we come close to the end of our life, what’s really important makes itself known. It isn’t whether or not we have two Mercedes or whether or not we spent more time at the office. For most people, it’s about relationships. It’s about answering two questions: “Am I loved?” and “Did I love well?” So much of what happens around the end of life boils down to those two questions.”

Frank Ostaseski is a Buddhist teacher and a leader in the field of end-of-life care. He is the Guiding Teacher and Founding Director of Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco.

“A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening accommodation between their relative insanities.”

Alain de Botton is a Swiss-born British philosopher and author and this quote is an excerpt from his essay Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person.

Today’s Books

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work Kindle Edition by Steven Kotler  and Jamie Wheal

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

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Shaun Galanos

Shaun Galanos is a love coach and course creator. He teaches communication and intimacy tools for better relationships and more love.

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