Paralyzed by Anxiety

1387 Relax and Succeed - Your new life is waiting to be lived

If someone has an anxiety-based form of depression they’ll often spend as much time as possible in bed, turtled away from others. Otherwise pleasant social situations will feel emotionally ‘heavy,’ and requests for our help from even our most treasured loved ones will feel thoroughly overwhelming. We can easily end up feeling guilty and worthlessness. It’s a terrible cycle.

When we’re in these states it makes logical sense that we feel alone and misunderstood. But it’s important for us to remember that our current internal psycho-logical reality does not translate to the larger world, or even to our own future selves.

Anyone in psychology, psychiatry, general counselling; or those of us from religious or philosophical mindfulness practices will have all heard people express this sense of alone-ness countless times because these feelings are a common part of human life.

The roughly 107 billion human beings that have ever lived all share the same four DNA letters, in almost identical locations, with all of us coded to produce certain proteins that combine to form all that we are. As different as we can seem, we are all stunningly the same.

Within those 107 billion lives, each of us uses the same essential set of systems to create and experience our own biochemistry. This is the only reason psychological drugs can have any effect –they are working at the level of the common systems we all share.

Each of these facts is what unites us in a powerful way with those around us. As this set of interviews illustrates, even ‘successful’ people live and work with the sorts of crippling feelings described above. But as these interviews also illustrate, there are ways to feel better even if our lifetimes have inadvertently taught us to habitually create darker feelings.

In the three cases in those interviews, what lead to people feeling better was when they realized a level of responsibility for how they felt. Rather than just feeling impacted by the feelings, they started to feel a sense of control over them. Drugs also helped in one case, but their common realization was they each felt they could have more control over how they felt.

1387 Relax and Succeed - Paralyzed by Anxiety

David Alexander Robertson noted, “I was laying in bed, as I always did when I got home from work, and my wife came in and said I needed to get some groceries. I didn’t think I could do it. I felt like I was going to die. She told me that she couldn’t support the family all by herself. And she said, ‘How do you want to live?’ That was a really big turning point for me…. What’s helped me the most is to talk about it. ”

Alicia Elliott noted, “What happens with people who have family members with severe mental illness or with addictions is the idea of co-dependency. You are always wanting to take care of someone or put all of your energy into that. For me, my coping mechanism has always been to listen to other people’s problems, to ask them how they’re doing and to take care of them and not tell them anything about what’s going on with me.”

When we feel deeply depressed reaching out to others can feel counter-intuitive, which is why formerly depressed people often talk about having an epiphany that incited their shift to seek help. But we do not need an epiphany to get healthy –we can generate our own.

There is nothing stopping us from recognizing that our lives are short, there are beautiful experiences to be had, and that the sooner we feel better the sooner our experiences will become more positive and life-affirming.

Do not trap yourself under a blanket of thinking that leads you to feel isolated, lonely, anxious or depressed. Getting healthy can be easier, more enjoyable, and happen much faster than most people would ever assume possible. But as the examples above demonstrate, the first step toward feeling better is to believe that you can, and then reach out.

If you need help; call or write me or anyone else who has a track record of helping people find their health. You won’t get judgment here, you will be welcomed. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing people awaken to the wonderful possibilities and remarkable strengths that exist within us all.

If you’re depressed or anxious, don’t sacrifice another day. Your new life is waiting to be lived, it only requires your presence.

peace, s

(780) 439-0341
scottis@relaxandsucceed.com

Relationship School

1348 Relax and Succeed - Relationship School

This fall I will be starting the latest round of my course, The Principles of Healthy Relationships. I won’t pretend to know who or what is right or wrong for someone else. But I do know that by learning how to clear our heads and change our perspectives, we can learn to more clearly see what defines a healthy relationship for us.

Each of us comes to our relationships with unique histories, unique circumstances and a unique personality. Those factors in turn lead us to date in unique ways and to create unique relationships. We even have unique breakups. And yet within us there is a certain consistency that we see emerge as patterns.

The differences between us derive from small differences in how we weight our values and our preferences, and our patterns emerge because those rarely change. But what is helpful is that we all share a set of helpful principles that we process our values and preferences with, and we can become conscious of that process.

We all know it’s possible for us to be attracted to certain kinds of unhealthy situations, and we often have the same conflicts with multiple partners, both of which are indications of the invisible set of rules we have been using in our relationships. Yet, we cannot function wisely within them if we’re not even sure what those rules and boundaries are, where they came from, or if they’re helpful.

It is possible for us to be more conscious of what we bring to a relationship, both in terms of how we foster them in healthy ways and how we unwittingly undermine them. Because we not only need to know how to find joy, we also need good strategies for how to manage our particular brands of trouble.

Every good relationship runs into problems –even serious ones. But the healthiest relationships succeed precisely because they have calmly thought out good strategies for dealing effectively with the patterns we create with our lives.

If we understand our Selves and how we truly operate, we are then able to tell the difference between when our ego is over-reacting, and when we have an issue that truly needs a healthy resolution.

By slowing our dating, relationship and breakup processes down, and by seeing them in new and insightful ways, it is much easier for us to find healthy new routes into better quality relationships.

1348 Relax and Succeed - Being single dating being in a relationship

If we’re single we can benefit from gaining a better understanding of the differences between solitude and loneliness. That way we can avoid both hiding from relationships, as well as being pushed into unhealthy ones. (It’s no surprise that we often make better choices when we’re feeling healthy and not under stress.)

If we’re dating, that’s often through websites which match qualities and interests, and yet people in good relationships will sometimes share those and other times not, so clearly those are not the secret. Qualities and interests are important, but in the end what we are with in a relationship is someone’s true character. Knowing how to recognize it early helps us to figure out much sooner if someone is destined to cross one of our relationship limits.

And if we’re in a relationship, or if we’re thinking about leaving one, we gain by establishing much more clearly what our personal needs really are, and why we are with the person we are with. This can can facilitate very helpful dialogue and can just as often lead to a beautiful relationship renewal as it can lead to a compassionate and healthy break-up.

Whether we avoid someone, unite with someone, sacrifice to stay with someone or decide leave someone, in any case our actions should be motivated by the same underlying principle: because that choice will lead to a greater quality of life.

We can share our lives with others and we do not have to surrender ourselves completely to do it. At least not all the time. But we do need to know where our own balance points are, and how those correspond to our partners or potential partners. Without that we can easily see things tumble.

No one is ever wrong or right for everyone, but finding who we’re right for is certainly much easier when we have a clearer and more principled idea of what it is we’re really looking for.

peace. s

Living With Death

His death had rocked her hard. They had just started to talk about what retirement might look like in 10 more years–and then he was gone. I had just started working with her on her self esteem when she asked me to go to the funeral with her that day. She just wanted to feel a bit more solid. She faintly trusted me when I told her that even feelings this bad would eventually pass, like they all do.

His life had been pleasant if not exciting, so there it was at least a funeral where the sentiments expressed at the podium all felt sincere. Her part was made harder by the fact that none of her small family were able to make it over from Europe. She also hadn’t been here long enough to establish the deep sort of friendships that help one through things like this. His friends were great, but in truth she felt largely alone, with me being a strange exception.

When it came time to speak she stood there at the podium and she met her commitments, but she found the whole experience wracked and painful. She was grateful she wasn’t overly religious–the entire process had not taken long. She asked if we could walk. I too felt like being under a big sky. The whole day felt like a hug you never wanted. The feelings were too big for words for a long time, so we drive to the river valley and parked and headed down a trail.

We walked down by a little lake. Finally, she asked what she could do to stop the hurting. I looked at her genuinely confused. I explained that the hurt was the other side of the love. They were inextricable. If she took the pain away then she would have needed a history where she didn’t love her husband. It is possible to be relieved when someone dies, but this was not one of those cases.

I asked why she didn’t want the pain. She thought it was a bizarre question, which I realised from her perspective it would be. She’s just started with me, so she thinks she wants to increase her happiness and decrease her sadness, when what she’s really looking for doesn’t do that. It makes you feel the same way about your happiness as you do about your sadness. Rather than liking the good parts, you value it all.

I explained that she chose an identity of a woman who’d lost her husband and it hurt. I felt that was suitable. If the universe gave you the capacity to experience emotional pain like that, I suggested that the death of a beloved loved one was maybe the most suitable time possible to get that feeling out of your quiver of feelings.

I was sorry the pain was stabbing, but that’s how that feeling operates. Far from living wrong, I thought the pain was a sign of her health. She seemed to be right where one would feel it was appropriate or natural for her to be. When she asked what she was supposed to do with the pain, I told her to feel it; to know it. I told her that the more she understood it, the more valuable she would be to people in similar situations in the future.

I explained that knowing the pain didn’t make it worse, it made her wiser. Crying at the death of a loved one is wise. So is being stoic if that’s how you naturally unfold. The point is, of course there would be a reaction of some kind. Accept that. And know that it won’t last. That it’s just the suitable feelings for the context, just as a raincoat suits rain.

She told me that simply knowing there was no answer had actually taken a layer of suffering away. I explained that what she had removed was the illusory layer of suffering that her mind layered over top of the pain. Now that she had gotten rid of the voluntary stuff, it made it easier to handle the mandatory pain. Plus she felt stronger, which was a nice feeling.

It’s going to take some time for her to go through this. She’ll do it in stages as everyone does. She would need build a new mindset to be a single woman with new challenges. And then one day someone will really need her, and she’ll know just the right thing to say to them and they’ll be so relieved, or maybe grateful. And then she’ll realise that this experience is what taught her the wisdom she shared. Our cracks truly are where our brightest light escapes.

Don’t offer resistance to painful experiences. They pass more quickly with less resistance, and you can learn a great deal by travelling through them. Some are simply awful, and if you’re experiencing one right now I am so sorry and I love you. But you too will get through it, and you too will live to laugh again. But in the meantime, you’re going to be collecting some of the most hard-fought wisdom a person gets in their lifetime. Big hug.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.