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Forgiving Ourselves for Anxiety

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  • #110751
    Christy
    Participant

    30daysofkindness,

    Thank you for the video! I love different suggestions for resources. There’s so much out there that it can be almost perversely difficult to find what you need!

    #110768
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Christy:

    You asked about The Healing Path, my experience. Well, there is a whole lot to it, it being on its sixth year. I will be glad to share, but it will take time. To heal my anxiety, my distress, it took and is taking a combination of insight into the past and mindfulness, that is insight into the present. Then there are skills, like tools in a tool box, you use this tool here and that tool there.

    You attended therapy before. What did you learn from it? As we, adult children, are very quick to … forgive our parents (as if anger at them is a sin and needs to be resolved first), but as your brain was forming when you interacted with your then very powerful parents, insight into what happened then is very important.

    Would you like to share about the origin of your anxiety, that is where in the relationship with your parent/s it originated?

    anita

    #110775
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Aschristyseesit,

    I definitely agree with you about the ebb and flow of the anxiety. There might be weeks or months during which I am perfectly content with my life, making progress or simply just not filled with worry, guilt, or anxiety. However, then it seems to creep up and grab a hold of me. Sometimes my anxiety doesn’t even seem to creep up, it just knocks me right down. I then start over analyzing and worrying about events that happened way too long ago, or things that might not even occur. If there’s anything to worry about, I worry about it. I worry about past conversations, future events, my safety, etc.

    I completely and absolutely agree with you in regards to never considering nitpicking others. I nitpick myself obsessively at times, always finding faults with my looks, personality, progress in life, etc. However, I never ever consider doing it to someone else. The way I see it, I don’t know what stage of life the other person is coming from, friend or stranger. I don’t know what internal problems they are going through, if they are having a bad day, or they have had a bad life. Therefore, I don’t nitpick others, rather I have compassion and bring it upon myself to be nice and understanding. Now, that always brings me to question why I can never seem to do that for myself. I have no problem nitpicking myself, so why can’t I express the same compassion for myself?

    I’ve gotten better at it, and while I find myself still nitpicking myself, I do my best to try and point out a few things I like about myself or the way I handled certain situations and that makes it all the better for me.

    My favorite mindfulness techniques would be awareness, observation, and simply breathing. One technique does not work all of the times, which is why I employ different techniques at different times. It greatly helps me to slow down my racing mind by simply observing or taking the time to appreciate something that I would have not otherwise noticed. By practicing mindfulness I have become so much aware of myself and my surroundings.

    So much of what you said to Maria about being taught to worry resonates so much with me. Everyone in my family from a young age, since I was the oldest told me it was up to me to take care of my siblings and keep them safe (I had a single mom) and then, much like yourself, as I grew older I taught myself to worry.

    A lot of the techniques and advice that others have given you seem excellent and I hope they help you manage your anxiety better. I really agree with the advice that Maria gave you.

    #110833
    Christy
    Participant

    Hey Anita,
    Wow, 6 years, absolutely it sounds like that would take a while to sort through!

    You asked about when I attended therapy, and I’ll say that it was really useful for digging things up and making me realize that there was a connection between my past and my current distress. This was the whole “blame mommy and daddy” phase that everyone goes through and yes, I did have quite a bit of anger there for a while.

    Truthfully, it was here that I learned the techniques of mindfulness. When I first attended I didn’t know what it meant to “be in the moment” and it actually took weeks, if not months, of practicing this before I could grab a hold of the concept, if even for just a moment. My therapist taught me breathing exercises and really pushed the concept of yoga on me…one that I was strangely resistant to at first. Of course, yoga helped me connect to myself, my breath, my inner self more than I could have ever expected and through a several week series of heart-opener sequences I quite literally got so much off of my chest. I confronted past transgressions with my parents and afterward we had a strained relationship for months. During my childhood my grandparents and my father had the opportunity to confront my mother about her alcoholism and how it affected everyone. I was too young at the time and as I grew older I learned that her condition could have been so much worse and that I should be grateful that I didn’t grow up with a raging alcoholic. This enlightenment led to avoidance of ever confronting her on how it affected me. After the first few therapy sessions I realized that the childhood I had damaged me (but really, whose didn’t?) and I began dealing with it. I wrote a very long and probably hurtful letter to my mother about how selfish alcoholism is and for a very long time I truly in my heart believed that I must not be loved by my mother because she would continuously “choose” to drink when she knew how much it hurt me. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal about alcoholism, I’ve come to understand it has nothing to do with me and that she was doing the best she knew had with the tools that she had. In response, my mother has made a pact to no longer drink when I’m visiting. Remarkably, this promise has been 100% upheld. As I’ve been learning more about myself, diving deeper into anxiety and what it looks like I’m shocked to see just how terribly, terribly anxious my mom and her mom both are. For years we had a running family joke that my grandmother “was so silly” because “she always worries about worrying too much!” It was a slap in the face when I realized that that’s pretty much the textbook definition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. By my mother not drinking to cover up her anxiety I realize that she’s an anxious wreck, that she always has been, and she drinks to avoid the pain. (Yes, trust me I know this makes it much worse in the long run. Treat anxiety with alcohol, feel better temporarily, wake up, feel even more anxious, drink earlier, rinse, repeat). My father tries his best and just loves us all so damn much, but he doesn’t have anxiety and doesn’t understand how to cope with it. He coddles her through it and I’m convinced that this “trying to help” has made it all much worse throughout the years. Again, he is just doing the best they know how, but the kicker is that they are resistant to change. My father may not have generalized anxiety, but I definitely recognize a fear of failure that he has and yes, you betcha, I picked up this habit like it was going out of style. My parents are both terrified that they’ll mess something up if they think for themselves, and therefore always await the “instruction manual” before doing anything. Even when they receive detailed instructions for some menial task, they blow it out of proportion until it’s a big, huge deal that they’re super anxious about “ruining.” I think if I pointed this out to my dad, he’d be in disbelief. This is also where I was taught “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” The whole situation is almost comical because my dad has said for years how hard he tried to not be overprotective of his only child, a daughter (and in a lot of ways he succeeded) but I definitely learned the notion that doom and gloom was around every corner. You must have constant vigilance or else die in a horrific car accident with a boy or you better take all the necessities at all times when you leave the house in case you’re stranded. …I’m from a large metropolitan city in the SE USA… This behavior all seems very strange coming from someone that has such a tremendously optimistic outlook on life. It’s hard to wrap my head around sometimes. Again, I think he was just trying his best to show me the dangers of the world without being overbearing? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s taking a long time to prove to myself that the world doesn’t have to be so dangerous. Death is not around every corner and that I can relax and breath without a strict itemized itinerary about, I don’t know, what’s going to happen from the time he walks downstairs to pass my mother the phone during a conversation.

    At the end of the day it’s a nice notion to say, “ok I get it. This is where my anxiety came from,” but I think it’s so important that we move past blaming the parents and take responsibility for our mental habits ourselves. This took me a long time to be able to accept.

    #110845

    Hey beautiful soul<3 you aren’t alone. I love life so much and still I get anxiety but it’s a blessing to me I choose to be positive with it it’s helped me be who I am, learn about people more and how they work and with compassion too<3 you are a blessing to the world and there is more to life than the anxiety you feel you’re right but you deal and cope with it but it doenst define you. The happiness joy..your passions quirks they’re you. Anxiety is something you and I deal with but it doesn’t have to ruin your life at all. When you feel anxious breathe and have good you survived before all these times right? You will again. You arnet alone. People love u and are here for you you are someone’s reason to smile you are that good positive person. You can free yourself all you need to do is have that passion not anger that just says STOP IM DONE. do your best to focus on stuff that makes u happy walk away from bad habits or triggers or just smile through it and know its OK it happens but it doesn’t define you. Remember the good parts of the day. Life is beautiful don’t remember anything unpleasant just know it makes u grow and be stronger. You can use this to help others dealing with anxiety too and hey it gives you insight on how others might feel too. I know anxiety can not feel good but luckily if doenst last forever keep remembering you desevre to be happy do MORE Of what makes you happy. alwyas faith faith move forward and stay strong it’s all apart of the beautiful journey called life and you will end up okay I promise. youre amazing a A BEAUTIFUL PERSON it will all work out. beleive YES I WILL GET THERE. I WILL I AM I CAN. u can choose TODAY to start. It wont be perfect always but the faxt u wanna feel better and know your orth and that you already are who u want to be is a good start. Each day u keep growing and learning never give up honey bless u and you rock <3 have a great life sweetie it will all turn ut ok<3 keep shining your love and light and kindbess positivity you hage bo problem doing rhat. Never be ashamed to feel what u feel it’s all valid and mattees u matter and try to see the light in every sitch it will he ok I promise <3

    #110861
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Christy:

    The last two lines of your post are: “I think it’s so important that we move past blaming the parents and take responsibility for our mental habits ourselves. This took me a long time to be able to accept.”

    I think that what should be most important for you, Christy, is to heal and be well. This is your personal responsibility because only you (with help from others) can initiate this path, this process and only you can, through persistence, work, patience, do it. Only you can and therefore it is your responsibility.

    The blaming of the parents is useful in context of healing: you have to settle the responsibility issue in order to heal. You are responsible for your healing now, as the adult that you are. To heal you have to truly understand that the illness you need to heal from, the creation of that illness was not your responsibility, but the responsibility of your caretakers, in your case, your mother and father.

    Why see them as responsible for your anxiety? Because that would mean that it wasn’t YOU who brought it about. It is necessary to realize this so that you can feel empathy for yourself as the innocent, clean slate, all loving and lovable child that you were:

    Look at the very title of your thread here: “Forgiving Ourselves for Anxiety”- it is right there! You believe you need to forgive yourself for being anxious as if you caused it. This means you feel guilty for being anxious, as if you are … bad when in reality you didn’t cause it. You automatically reacted to the caretakers in your life, not your choice.

    There is a powerful social criticism for blaming our parents and the motivation is to protect the parents, always has been. And of course, there is no use in blaming our parents if we are not engaged in healing. Only in the context of healing and for the purpose of healing, do we need to indeed, blame our parents.

    What do you think?

    anita

    #110916
    Maria_L
    Participant

    Hello,

    It was really kind of you to respond to all the comments, that fact itself tells a lot about the greatness of a person! Thanks about all the wonderful links you shared…

    I am sorry to hear that panic attacks were involved too… I used to have 3-4 per day in March, I went through hell with those 🙂 This link provides a really effective guide based on CBT about panic attacks, extremely helpful

    http://paniccure.com/CoachNeal/Intro-1/1-1.htm

    The key with those is when they happen, to distract yourself and bring yourself in the present (grounding),cause your mind can’t focus on two things at once. It’s as simple as that. Prepare mental exercises like: count how many blue things you can see… Describe 2 things you can smell. Solve sudoku. And learn how to breathe in order to prevent hyperventilation (hold your breath bit and exhale slowly, to stabilize the carbon levels). Everytime you deflect a panic attack, your mind learns new copying mechanism and forms new paths. So congratulate yourself again.

    This link provides good explanation of how our brain works (neuroplasticity), of the fight and flight response that is responsible for anxiety and panic attacks, and our negativity bias… It helps to identify our old habitually formed pathways that shaped our ‘anxiety brain’, and by that to slowly substitute those with new ones, also through new habitual actions..

    http://my.moodsmith.com/courses/free-anxiety-class

    I can see you are already familiar with mindfulness, here is a link of a free 8 week program, if you can join a live course, even better

    http://palousemindfulness.com/

    And if you are interested more in how to boost your happy, relaxing hormones (Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin,& Endorphin), I recommend the book ‘Habits of a happy brain’ by Loretta Graziano.

    There are also many supplements on the market like 5-HTP and inositol that are really helpful to many people (haven’t tried any though, but be careful with 5-htp). Magnesium, b-vitamins and omega 3 are also a must… I am not saying they will solve the problem, but deficiency of those is not good, especially magnesium (80% of the people have deficiency of it, and it helps the muscles to relax).

    And sugar, caffeine, alcohol, spicy and greasy food are your enemy. Not joking.. I used to have panic attack everytime after I ate sweet chilly sause, imagine 🙂

    And ALWAYS trust your heart and intuition… You got so many lovely advises (I tried to be practical and to share the helpful stuff from tons of research I’ve done and practiced). But it is simple- if it makes you feel good- do it. If it freaks you out-it’s not for you 🙂 There are many ways to heal, and you can find your own by doing what feels right and helpful. Some people can’t meditate.. Some people feel worse after psychoanalytical therapy.. Some people can’t do vigorous exercises (in the beginning cardio exercises were trigger for panic attacks for me). Some choose spirituality. Some laugh at it. Just stay positive and determined (practice on daily basis), and do not googly scary stuff about anxiety.. 🙂 It can be battled. There will be bad days always, but they will become fewer and fewer. You will trust life again!

    #110938
    Christy
    Participant

    Aislynn,

    I can totally relate to what you’re saying about anxiety doesn’t even creep up, it just knocks you straight down. It seems like if my mind can’t find anything to be harsh about in the present, then that’s when it drags things from the past or future. I’ve looked into self-forgiveness and it seems like the berating myself for past trivial events is due to guilt and shame. When I’m in my negative moments my mind is always criticizing myself.

    So maybe what we’re describing isn’t anxiety at this point? Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where I have anxiety and there are times even where I have panic attacks (albeit, thankfully they’re rare now) but I’m wondering if I’m self-categorizing any negative thought or tension I feel as anxiety when it is perhaps something different. I’m not sure.

    I read about your childhood and that must have been hard. Worrying seems like it would have been a way of life at that point, a way to keep you and everyone else safe. I’ve had this perspective describes to me several times and maybe you can find some peace with it. Think of your anxiety from back then as a good thing. It kept the family safe. Now, things might be different, and as Maria pointed out, your anxiety is no longer needed. They say to stare at the face of your anxiety, smile at it, say thank you to it, but tell it its not needed right now. To acknowledge that it kept you safe in the past but that you no longer need it right now is supposed to be a tremendously helpful technique. I understand this concept but have not yet been able to accept my anxiety enough to thank it. I’m working on it… 🙂

    Best of luck 🙂

    #110939
    Christy
    Participant

    Livelovelifeeleni,

    Thank you for your kind words of support! They mean so much 🙂 🙂

    #110940
    Christy
    Participant

    Anita,

    I appreciate your insight and I’d like to hear more about it as I’m not inclined to agree with you. I would say recognizing that my anxiety came from my parents is helpful, but I spent time feeling the victim and blaming them and I don’t think it was a healthy time. Necessary, maybe, healthy, no. They did the best that they could, and still continue to. I was very resentful towards them for a long time but I have forgiven them. Blaming is not something that I feel is helpful at this point.

    You are totally correct, though, I do blame myself for the anxiety I carry (and the blame wasn’t an either/or. When I blamed them I still blamed myself as well). I know that I shouldn’t hold blame, but I haven’t accepted the condition yet. I still think that it is absolutely ridiculous for the things that I get worked up about because I know better. I know that xyz is nothing to worry about, and still my body exhibits the physical symptoms of anxiety. It’s frustrating because some days it feels like I am the anxiety, that it’s this toxic and negative being that’s wound itself into every crevice of my being and some days it doesn’t feel like me at all. It feels like this other thing that I can consciously view as separate.

    I place the blame on myself because “I have repeatedly failed to ‘conquer’ this.” Flawed thinking, yes, but it’s how I see it. Forgiving myself first for the tension within me, then for the failure to ‘overcome’ it, then to truly love myself — flaws and all — is the path I feel like I need to be taking. I don’t see how getting angry and resentful towards my parents after I have forgiven them is helpful. Don’t you agree?

    #110947
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Christy:

    As to your last paragraph: I agree that you accepting yourself without judgment is necessary for your healing, absolutely. Accepting yourself with empathy is The Way, says I. Self empathy instead of self criticism, self berating, self beating (the works of the abusive Inner Critic, what I call Inner Bully).

    I also agree that getting angry and resentful toward your parents (or toward yourself, see first paragraph of my response here) is in itself undesirable and as you already experienced in your past, it didn’t get you anywhere. In fact lots and lots of adult children are angry with their parents their whole lives. They keep complaining and keep trying to please their parents all at the same time. Or they keep resenting and stay stuck in their lives, in their sicknesses and dysfunction.

    In your post to another member you wrote: “Think of your anxiety from back then as a good thing. It kept the family safe.” Some perspectives, like this one, may make you feel good for a short time, temporarily, like many type of Convenient Thinking, but on the long run, it may be harmful to you because it may be untrue. This is my correction of the thinking:

    The anxiety back then was not a good thing. Anxiety: ongoing, excess fear- is never a good thing. It weakens a person, sickens a person, gets the attention away from business-at-hand.

    Back when you were a child, if that is where your anxiety started, you perceivd yourself in danger. That was the cause: real and/ or perceived danger. The result was fear. If the perceived danger was ongoing, so was the fear.

    The anxiety of past, in the context of the family, did not keep anyone safe.

    That ongoing, excess fear (anxiety) from childhood got attached to a variety of thoughts, sensations, experiences and it keeps circulating in the brain, raining-on-our-parades in multitude of ways.

    One way in the healing process is to pay attention to what is happening now, what thoughts are involved, what triggers it, methods to relax, all necessary.

    The other thing that needs to be attended to is that danger in childhood: what was it? Underneath that anger that you felt for your parent/s, there is fear. Fear of what? Such insight is also necessary for long term healing.

    Again, the purpose for looking into the past (and our relationships with our parents are a HUGE part of that past because our brains were forming then), is not to get stuck in blaming, it is to unearth the origins of …our misery, basically.

    anita

    #111095
    Christy
    Participant

    Maria,

    You are such a lovely person. I am very thankful for the love and support I have received on the site so far, but you have been such a lovely gift to me. I have received tons of good and practical advice and feelings of comradery, but being able to connect to your posts has helped me more than you could know. You’ve vocalized so many of the things that I have been thinking but unable to put my finger on. “I will trust life again.”

    I will check out all of the links that you sent me, but I am especially interested in the one that deals with neuroplasty, and of course the Habits of a Happy Brain. I do believe that we as humans can learn and unlearn anything, but without a mentor, a role model, a parental figure, without anyone to look up to in this regard it feels so much like stabbing in the dark. It’s been a long and lonely process for me. It would feel so much more manageable if I had someone other than my partner to support me. He’s great and supportive in so many ways, but he doesn’t understand anxiety fully, he’s no therapist by any means, and truthfully I don’t want my romantic partner to be involved in therapy sessions. They’re ugly, open and raw, and well, I must have landed a great one given that he’s still around, but it’s not healthy for him to be my partner, my lover, my family, my best friend, and my therapist.

    I’ve tried 5-HTP, actually I used to take it everyday but just haven’t picked any up since I’ve been traveling…I took it for about a year? Maybe two…I haven’t taken any in about 4 or 5 months. What makes you say exercise caution with it? I usually take St. John’s Wort and have been out of that for several weeks, now. I could never really tell if it made a difference…but I’ve been feeling extra bummy going through this so perhaps I should pick up another bottle…

    You are so on my brainwaves about the magnesium. I never knew that it could have such calming properties but I used to add raw 100% cacao to my protein smoothies when I was back home in the states. I never connected the two thoughts, but I always felt so mellow after drinking them. Just the day before you recommended upping my magnesium levels I bought a bag for this same purpose, and hell yeah it really does work! Plus who needs an excuse to eat chocolate? 😛

    Your supplement recommendations are all spot on, really. I tested the waters of veganism for several months and I went down a dark and swollen, b-vitamin deficient path before I discovered chia seeds…vitamin deficiencies are a great way to add insult to injury.

    “It can be battled. There will be bad days always, but they will become fewer and fewer. You will trust life again!”

    ^^ 🙂 🙂

    #111110
    Maria_L
    Participant

    Hi again,

    We are more similar than I thought, cause I am in the same position about my partner, I might have written somewhere the exact same words you said- he is lovely and so supportive, but he is not my therapist and I definitely don’t want him to be. I don’t want him to also dedicate his life ‘googling’ anxiety and threat me with fear and caution 24/7.

    5-HTP has huge interaction with a lot of medications and supplements, especially st. john’s worth, and when I did my research, some people don’t feel good after using it (though there are many who love it). Inositol has very little possible side effects and no interactions, but you should take great quantities of it (Medical studies say 14 grams per day have same effect as SSRI, but most people are fine with 2-3. But it can be costly). I wouldn’t recommend st. John’s Worth, it doesn’t help with ‘serious’ anxiety, and it has also bad interactions with a lot of medication and ‘calming’ supplements. It can actually increase anxiety when combined unproperly. Valerian root is also something that many people with anxiety don’t find very effective. You’d laugh, but simple mint tea does the magic for me sometimes:)

    And yes, sometimes being practical is the best cure…Doing more and thinking less. As I said, you can’t think your way out of anxiety. Cause anxiety itself is overthinking 🙂 Maybe sometimes it’s better to make a little agreement with yourself… First get ‘serenity’ by ‘attacking’ the physical plane (with exercise, balanced nutrition, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises). And after that think.. Unfortunately I had to take medication in the beginning (bromazepam), and had the worst withdrawal you can imagine after that (withdrawal is worse than anxiety, even when you tapper slowly like me ). I keep blaming myself for the pills as you do yourself for the anxiety. But to be honest, they did give me the ‘serenity’ to look for ways to help myself. I couldn’t have done it with my anxious brain at the time.

    And at last but not least- maybe we are just bit more emotional, so what? I am fine that I’ll feel anxious on job interview, when I fight with a friend, when a bad surprise occurs.. It’s not a disease to ‘freak out’ every now and then when life gets hard.. it’s normal 🙂 So when someone asks me -are you fine now- of course I am not fine all the time, nobody is! And I still get urges to panic from time to time.. But I just slow my breathing, start counting green/blue stuff around..lol 🙂 Get bit calmer and distracted and then i congratulate myself 🙂 And the best thing about being ‘practical’.. it does give you the ‘illusion’ that you are in control 🙂

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