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Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

We all need to be good at whatever it is that we are. Think with compassion. When people are trained from the formative years, to fear hell fire and all that would lead to the said fire, you just can’t expect them to let go of that so easily. And if anything at all, only compassion and love is going to set people free from that type of a fear. You can’t argue them out of it; you can only love them out of it. – C. Joybell C.

When you think of the word love, what comes to mind? What gives it meaning? In the mental health world I have noticed that this word does not come up very often and especially in the context of offering a healing intervention. I think the reason for this is people seem to experience love when they feel happy when their problem gets resolved. I have never read a treatment plan that involved “love thyself.”

I have discovered that there are two common roots to most people’s issues; fear and worry. This is a common thread especially for anxiety and is responsible for producing the feeling of fight or flight. If a bear chases us in the woods, this is appropriate. But when we fear the world and worry about situational outcomes it can become exhausting and manifest into long term stress. The body is not built for long term stress and anxiety. The fight or flight response is meant to be short term. It signals us to get out of our predicament and do it quickly by running and if we can’t run then we have to stand our ground.

So what does love have to do with fighting or fleeing imaginary bears? Well, for clarification, the imaginary bears are a metaphor for things in our lives that cause problems and discomfort. There are two ways to deal with this and it has to do with how love is observed, either as a noun or a verb. Love can be an object of desire and/or an action of desire. For example: I am in love with you…and/or… I love you.

If we practice self love then as a person I can say that I love myself. A word of caution: this form of love is very different from malignant narcissistic self love. Narcissists play a game of manipulation to turn attention to themselves, both positive and negative, and get very jealous when your attention is not on them. This is about self esteem. Narcissists can appear to have high self esteem but this often their grandiosity at work, “look at how wonderful I am.” Self esteem is a foreign concept to them and if you have a fair amount of it yourself the narc will often get jealous and try to manipulate your attention from yourself back to them.

This is about seeing yourself as someone of value, honor, dignity and respect. This is healthy self love, and because of this healthy self love your actions produce positive outcomes. It involves practicing self compassion and doing the things necessary that indicate recognition of the intrinsic value you hold of yourself. A narcissist does not understand this, rarely recognizes it in other people (lack of empathy is a symptom) and begins to scheme up another way to get the attention back on them (drama).

I was listening to a story once about a young man talking to a guru ( I think it was Stephen Covey but cannot confirm) who was struggling to make a decision to leave his wife. He was talking about how he did not understand how to tell his wife how much he truly loved her and no matter how hard he tried he felt that she was not reciprocating. He felt defeated and invalidated and so he tried more and more to express his love. As a result, he felt she was not part of the relationship and after a few years of heartbreak he was contemplating on getting out, he was feeling tired and defeated.

The man was asked by the guru to explain his love for her. He said he was in love with her. The guru responded “then LOVE her.” Huh? It’s an action, it’s a verb. We can say it all we want, but then what?

It’s like this, we cannot ask of love from others, it must be shown, thus reciprocated. It is an action. To love ourselves requires action and this is how we get out of our problems. We can’t sit and worry. To overcome our fears and worries is paramount to being our true selves and when we give ourselves permission to be that person it frees the heart of the burdens that keep it caged up. When we love life, it loves us back and our own personal light shines forth.

So how does a person overcome worry and fear? It requires us to have the courage and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to others and the world around us. Do not be afraid to go out and jump into life’s playground. With it comes a whole host of things that most people worry about. Suffering, pain, defeat, the what if’s, etc. and on it goes. But without entering life’s playground, we miss out on the good stuff too, the good stuff is found in the same places as the bad stuff. It basically depends on where the focus is, on the negative stuff or the positive stuff, or is there a healthy balance between the two? This is why love can be joyous and love can be difficult when we love enough to allow ourselves to just be ourselves.

A few quotes for the road:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

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Most of us have done it, we have worked for a person who is brash, overly demanding and seems to shove off all sense of responsibility for the outcome of things or projects onto others. I’m talking about the bully boss. These types of boss’ are more like school yard bullies and for the sake of argument, there is a difference between a boss and a leader.

Leaders are out front in the lead position guiding, teaching, inspiring and encouraging their team to move forward and accomplish goals and tasks. A good leader hits their sweet spot when the team is highly inspired to achieve. A boss, no pun intended, is in the rear trying to push and this serves as a mental picture of where the pressure is coming from. Physics tells us that when force is applied resistance occurs. The bully boss knows this and when they push and get resistance they use more force. It follows an old cliche, “Brute force, if it’s not working you’re just not using enough.” Everything can be a nail if you have a big enough hammer to drive it through.

Except there is a problem with this concept, and it’s from the employee’s perspective and it usually comes from the employee’s point of view. “If I don’t comply then I have a bigger problem…no job!” So where does this leave the employee? What options do they have and how can they work with a boss who is acting like a shark in a minnow pond?

Stop! Before you sign that reprimand lets put first things first. Ask for a copy of it and read it carefully as if you are buying a house or car. Take your time and read the fine print and details of the demands of the letter. If you cannot get a copy let that be a red flag that this is not met to end well, for the employee anyway. The bully boss is the type of person who is looking for compliance and may get short fused when you don’t sign it right away. They may say things like it’s confidential, company property and cannot leave the room etc. to prevent you for taking this information. There is a reason for that, it’s called a lawsuit. Hint: if the result of signing a document affects your livelihood then you have a greater problem beyond your boss. It’s called loss of income and it will be the tipping point of losing a lot more than your paycheck. This is where people get stuck, fear of loss. If you sign off and you now have a performance record issue on file with a company that may go on a future resume. Here are a few tips that can help.

  1. Evaluate responsibility and situation of the claim, read it carefully, listen closely. Take notes if needed for your own documentation.
  2. Keep the perspective that no boss is perfect, keep your own power.
  3. Ask for a copy of the letter before you sign it.
  4. Ask why a letter is needed (if it’s not okay to ask questions then we have a bigger underlying issue called Tyranny)
  5. Ask if you can take the copy and bring it back at a later time. Do some consulting regarding the letter before signing off.
  6. If necessary, because red flags and bullying are evident, update your resume, refuse to sign the document. Turn in your resignation and look for other work.

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Depression or feeling down and blue can often be countered with some everyday techniques that can lift the mood. The way we think about our lives and what we experience often has a tremendous impact on how we view the world around us. When this processing of information is put into a negative frame of mind then the world itself begins to look negative leading to negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.

So how does a person stop from being exposed to too much negativity? An effective was is to stop supplying the negative stimulus. When a person takes an active approach to stop negative input into the mind then the mind is no longer feeding itself with negativity. Sounds simple right? Here are some everyday changes that a person can do to reduce negative input leading to depressive symptoms.

1. Stop watching the news. Often nothing can be accomplished sitting in your living room listening to a clanging reporter dramatizing death, destruction and political discord. Much of our culture is based on news reporting and wanting the next fix on current events. Sometimes watching news can even turn into an addiction. Turn it off for a few days and stop feeding the mind with information that is rarely, if ever, good. Having trouble not watching the news? Next time you watch the news, sit down with pen and paper and make a list of the things that were reported. Look at the list and see what the topics were about. Chances are there are no shiny happy stories.

2. Stop worrying and take action. Sitting around and worrying about things beyond our control gets us nowhere. Worry is about trying to make something that is uncertain a certainty. This falls under the 90/10 rule where 90% of the things we worry about are beyond our control, therefore worry about the 10% that are within our control and do something about it. Practice self acceptance, if there is something that you want to change then change it.

3. Practice gratitude. Coming from a place of thanks instead of thinking about what you don’t have creates positive feelings. Take a look around and think of 3 things you have to be thankful for. Do this everyday picking 3 new things each day. Practice being thankful for doing your best instead of focusing on perfection or trying to achieve unrealistic goals. Sometimes practicing positive affirmations are difficult in the beginning when caught in a web of negative thinking, but with practice it gets better and easier with time.

 

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Anxiety-2Fear is a common problem for many people and it can be difficult for most to overcome. Fear is deeply rooted and linked with negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. This is not the healthy type of fear where it makes sense to be afraid of something that threatens the loss of life, but the type of fear that creates an internal disturbance toward a perceived threat. This is usually found in the form of worry. Worry can be debilitating and is the result of fear of the unknown. Here is the breakdown of how this works causing 3 common negative emotions leading to an uneasiness in our lives.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety in a nutshell is a fight or flight response to a perceived threat. Internally the body is reacting to something that signals danger and hasn’t yet fully comprehended the extent of the threat, it’s unknown. Many times unresolved anxiety is difficult because the reality of the threat is not real, it’s manufactured, and it’s offspring is worry.

Worry is about the unknown and it is full of “mights and maybes.” The body responds to protect itself, an autonomic reaction, and the result is anxiety. Internally the body cannot recognize whether or not the threat is real, it just has to prepare itself just in case. So, if the mind is producing the perceived threat then the mind is the one that can fix the perceived threat by changing it. Most people who suffer this type of anxiety are experiencing generalized anxiety which is associated with expecting the worst in most situations. Counter challenge expecting the worst by being more realistic about daily outcomes.

Anger

Anger’s internal language says “I am in imminent danger and I must fight.” Remember the fight or flight response in anxiety? Anxious people typically want to avoid, angry people often want to confront. Anger is about taking an uncertain situation and making it certain. If a person is angry with you then chances are they want to control you to get certainty of the outcome of the situation. Anger is a natural emotion and comes in handy when life is being threatened. However, unchecked and for it’s survival value anger can become destructive.

Healthy anger is possible and takes a justice approach. To get angry with someone at the right place and right time is paramount for it to be effective. For example, you feel someone disrespects you at work in front of coworkers then call them on it, either right away or later one on one. While it is difficult to not become explosive, the manner in which something is being expressed is important, it’s a response instead of a reaction. This is often difficult as most people are afraid to make waves at work or in family relationships. This isn’t about making friends with people who bully others, this is about personal dignity and protecting it, and anger is designed to protect.

Depression

Depression’s internal language is lost hope. Depression is typically anger that turned inward and creating weight in the center of a person’s soul. This is where a person’s life can become self destructive by neglecting health, addiction issues, missing work or often being late. Other signs of depression are frequent crying, feeling blue all the time, excess or lack of sleep, appetite changes and a general sense of wanting to isolate and not engage with others. We all feel blue from time to time but this is more about a chronic state of feeling depressed for about 2 weeks or longer.

Depression can also be one of the most difficult moods to treat since it may take a while for the person suffering to come out of it as it typically doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes anti-depressants from a doctor may be necessary for a period of time combined with talk therapy with a qualified counselor. Self help strategies for depression are very effective in treating it. For example, waking up at the same time every day and make the bed. Get in a routine, eat breakfast and get some exercise early in the day. This gets the body moving and puts energy forward building momentum. Journal thoughts and feelings that are causing problems. Numerous studies have shown that written expression of emotions is highly effective at relieving them. Get outdoors, some fresh air and sunshine does wonders for the serotonin in the brain that helps lift mood. Depression is highly affected by negative thinking. One of the best challenges to negative thinking is to ask “what evidence do I have that makes my thoughts true?”

My hope and desire is this article helped someone in some way. If needed, share it with a friend or a community.

God’s Peace and Love,
Brian

Luke 12: 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

 

 

 

 

 

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Work DisputeWatch out!

When a codependent has a break through and they find their voice and how to make a stand in their life things can get a little rough. It follows the old cliche that things might get worse before they get better.

Underneath all of the self sacrifice that has been stuffed down and stacked up inside resurfaces going in the opposite direction. Instead of self sacrifice in order to get love from another person, this new found sense of freedom and independence turns into tough love. The codependent understands that it is okay to express themselves, their opinions and not worry any longer about what others think about them. It’s not that they don’t care, they just no longer worry about it.

Now comes the good and the not so good.

The good is personal freedom is often being experience for the first time in a very long time and quite possibly for the first time in their lives. This is not a move toward self-centeredness but a move toward self care taking and exercising some personal independence. It’s moving the self out from the subjection of others and into being objective in relationships and the environment in which they work and live.

Being objective in any situation means that the opinions, thoughts and feelings formed are unique to the individual who is experiencing them. These thoughts, feelings and opinions are viewed by the person who is holding them as just as worthy as anyone else, so there is a bit of self esteem that comes with this new freedom. It goes like this “my thoughts, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else.”

Now the not so good, but it often gets better. Just like any new skill learned it takes practice to get the hang of it. Here is another cliche; “it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. ” Here comes the stuffing. Like an overstuffed pillow, when the zipper first gets cracked open all the stuffing comes flying out all over the place. The idea is to treat it like a balloon, let out more air than is coming in bit by bit.

Usually the first few attempt come across as angry and brash. By validating and accepting themselves they struggle with the concept that they are doing harm or wronging another person by not putting the other person’s needs first. The codependent is finding their voice often for the first time and is learning how to communicate it. This takes time and practice. In this phase, learning self forgiveness goes a long way. Arguments may erupt, especially with family members who may not understand and only see a shift in behavior. Family and loved ones, not fully understanding what is going on, have to make adjustments as well since the dynamics of the relationship have changed.

One of the most common reasons why codependency happens is that somewhere along the road of the life the codependent learned to allow others to validate them. When they feel this validation is when they feel accepted, loved and liked as a person. When they move into this new sense of freedom they have learned how to accept themselves and not seek this validation from others. This can be a difficult behavior and habit for the codependent to detach from and learn new ones.

Learning how to live up to other people’s expectations is a tall order to fill. The codependent struggles to fit in with changing scenarios and compromises their true self in order to feel accepted or loved by others. People in healthy relationships have a genuine respect for each others thoughts, feelings and opinions, not because they match theirs, but because they are comfortable in their own skin, and their own right. It kinda follows one last cliche, “We can agree to disagree and still be friends. ” How is this possible? Because dropping codependency is about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, not who they think they ought to be in the eyes of another.

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Man stressWhy do men struggle with going to a counselor? Often they feel it is a threat to their masculinity, counseling is for wimps, or it will make them less of a man. Okay, if a man is so tough then why run from counseling? Face your fears, turn into the fight, enter the battle. Anxiety produces fight or flight, so what is going to be tough guy? Fight or flight? That’s right, I’m calling you out! What are you afraid of and hiding from? Join me, we’ll enter that fight together!

Running away from problems never works. It doesn’t work because it is a simple formula, wherever you go so there is your problem with you. It’s like those little hitch-hikers you get on your pants after walking through tall grass. I recall walking in the woods one day and I looked down and I was covered in these little thorny stickers. Not only was I unaware I was picking them up along the way, but when I tried to remove them they stuck me in the fingers. After trying to pick a few off my friend says to me, “such is life.” Reflecting on that situation it became apparent that is life. We pick up sticky annoying things along the way and don’t even realize they are there until we stop, look down and do some self examination. We find things we don’t like and try to remove them only to find out it’s painful, sticky and don’t like it. The easy way out is avoidance. To go somewhere else, ignore the problem, suffer silently, make excuses but inevitably sooner or later the problem has to be dealt with.

So often men struggle in this way. They just try to grit it out, suck it up or if the problem is ignored long enough it will just go away. Part of this is society expectations. Men are often raised to treat problems like water to a duck, just let it roll off. If only it were just that easy. Common long term effects from this thinking are depression, anger, ulcers, high blood pressure, worry, fatigue and what some “male therapists” call “Dead Men Walking.” Men become discouraged and hopeless and give up on life. The weight of all that emotional baggage begins to wear them down. They become compliant to the demands of their jobs, wives and society. They walk around feeling low, beaten and get an attitude of “whats the use, nothing changes.” It is amazing what can happen to a man when he takes the time to talk to another man in a confidential professional setting and work it out. The idea is to be men for an hour, talk like men, act like men, enter the wound and fight it out.

 

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Earlier today I was confronted by a thought. What can be accomplished with pessimistic thinking? Hmm…the short answer is nothing. When a person changes their thinking they can change the outcome regardless of what it is. So I focused on worry. Like the Eagles song “Long Run” the lyrics say “I used to worry a lot, I used to hurry a lot, I used to stay up till the break of day.” Sounds like a very restless mind.

So what do you worry about? What keeps you awake at night? What thoughts are gripping you so tight that it is robbing precious energy? Worry is often rooted in fear, the unknown, and a future that can seem out of control. Jesus asked a very simple question regarding this very thing: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”(Mt.6:27). He was trying to point out that worrying was useless, and for good reason.

Worry causes a lot of problems such as anxiety and depression. It wears holes in stomachs, creates tension headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia and so on. I guess Sigmund Freud wasn’t too far off the mark when he said the body betrays the mind. I have heard the expression that worry and anxiety is fear of the loss of control over the future. Perhaps this was a message Jesus was trying to convey, “don’t worry, I got this.” Let it go.

Here is a final question if you find yourself struggling with worry, and it’s related to the pessimistic thinking. “What purpose does my worry serve?” Suggestion: journal out the answer, or journal about the cause of the worry. Sometimes journaling is all that is needed to relieve the mind of it’s burden.

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