July 10, 2023 at 7:19 am #420754
I’ve had anxiety and depression all my life. I’ve tried everything under the sun but the bottom line is that I’m just not a happy person. I want to be so badly, but is it fair of me to want that when there are SO MANY out there really suffering – from terrrible illness, homelessnes, addiction, war? I have so much guilt because I actually have a pretty good life – happily married, employeed, have a house, a wonderful son, parents, etc. There’s no reason for me to be so unhappy except that it runs in my family and I’m an introverted empath. I feel like a horrible person.July 10, 2023 at 8:39 am #420756RobertaParticipant
All beings want happiness and the freedom from suffering is the fundamental Buddhist teaching and the 8 fold path is the journey we can take to get us there. The Aryuvedic system of medicine looks at the person as a whole and seeks to balance our systems that is in harmony with our dosha stlye.
I wonder what kinds of narrative runs thru your conscious and do you believe everything you think?
If possible can you expound what a horrible person feels like to you ie heavy hot tight.
Adding guilt about the things that are good in your life is like drinking poison, where as, appreciation is like ingesting a healthy tonic. it is your choice which bottle you choose to drink from, as you become more mindful of things moment to moment seeing that you do have choice will be easier to see & that in itself is empowering.
So I am guessing that an introverted empath needs to be around quieter, gentler, joyful people and a slower more natural lifestyle to help them flourish?July 10, 2023 at 9:44 am #420760PeterParticipant
Is it ok to want to be happy? Is it ok to want to be unhappy? Yes
I sometimes wonder if part of the problem with the notion of happiness is thinking happiness is a Yes OR No questions.
I also struggle with anxiety and the notion of happiness. Sometimes I find myself anxious about being anxious, unhappy about being unhappy, almost as if some shadow part of myself is happy about being be anxious and unhappy. To be candid I’m not sure I know what it would feel like not to be anxious and I wonder if my body has adapted to expect and even look for ways to be anxious. I’m very good at being anxious.
As a fellow introvert and sensitive person my observation has been that I’m more likely to feel the ‘negative’ emotions of those around the me and mistake them for may own. Sadly for reasons I don’t fully understand the same is not always true for ‘positive’ emotions of those around me. Not that I don’t experience others joy when I’m around others that are happy but in this case I tend not to think of those emotions as mine. Why is it ok to take on the experiences of the negative as our own but not the positive?
I think when it comes to happiness were really, really, really bad at measuring and labeling. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe happiness isn’t something to be measured, labeled or even created (which is a sure fire way of missing it). Maybe its something intended as moments to be experienced and surprised by?
Joseph Campbell writing about the Hero’s response to the question of “Life as it is”, is that we are all called to “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. The warrior’s approach is to say “yes” to life: “yea” to it all“. Yes to it ‘ALL’
Can we learn to love the things we most wish had never happened? Can we really become grateful for grief? Heartbreak? The deaths of loved ones? Can we experience moments of happiness in a world filled with unhappiness? The Hero says Yes. This is not some Pollyanna Yes, this is a Yes that taste and ‘knows’ the bitter and the sweet.
Lots of books, articles… lots of words on the subject, lots of advice, yet I think the answer is not in words but silent, stillness. Motion is time creating life, Stillness eternity creating Love… “to be Still yet Still Moving that is everything” Everything arises from and returning to Stillness, Love, Eternity…. Nothing is born, nothing lost… nothing found, nothing attained, it is always now… always now.
A tree’s movement in the wind, leaves swaying on its branch’s taking in the suns warmth, blue sky, soft clouds flowing by, a child on a swing tied to a branch, laughing, crying out, again, again, push me again…. Should we measure and label such a moment and weigh it against others moments. Can we, should we even try to separate the tree, from the sun, from the wind, from the leaves, from the child…from the moments when the sun isn’t shining or the sky blue?July 10, 2023 at 10:22 am #420761HelcatParticipant
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve experienced anxiety and depression for your whole life. It seems that it running in the family might be a reason why you feel this way, I think that’s enough of a reason.
I’m glad that you have many good things in your life. I doubt that you are terrible person. You sound like you have a lot of care and empathy for others. That means that you are a good person. You deserve to have good things in your life! ❤️
Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Wishing you all the best! 🙏July 16, 2023 at 6:55 pm #420802TinaParticipant
Depression in my life is a lack of actions, do stuff. It is a lack of purpose do stuff for people, animals or the environment.
It’s ok to need other people to create the momentum for you, join others often anywhere any time. Get involved.
You may find doing things moment by moment, day by day & joining something or someone, will carry you up from your low moods, don’t think of it as all or nothing for happiness. Also being grateful goes a long way to boost your mood. Good luck, TJuly 17, 2023 at 10:27 pm #420878TeeParticipant
yes, it is perfectly okay to want to be happy, even if there is so much suffering out there in the world. It’s a natural drive of each person, but sometimes this drive is blocked. One reason is that we feel guilty if we’re happy, because e.g. our parents weren’t happy and we felt sorry for them and their suffering.
You said anxiety and depression run in your family, which is a quite possible reason why you’re suffering from it too. For example, if we have a depressed mother, we naturally want to make her happy and do everything in our power to help her. But we inevitably fail, because it’s a problem that we didn’t cause and that we as a child cannot solve. And because we fail to make our depressed parent happy, we start feeling bad about ourselves, because we believe we’re not good enough or worthy enough – again, blaming ourselves for our parent’s condition.
Also, if our parent is anxious, they can’t give us proper emotional regulation and soothing. For example, they may get worried easily over each little child’s disease we have, and this makes things much worse because if our parent worries, we feel totally helpless and in terror. Perhaps that’s why you have the tendency to worry about your health excessively, because you’ve learned the pattern of excessive worry and there was no one there to calm you down and tell you that everything’s going to be fine?
I wonder if you’ve experienced something like this in your childhood/youth?July 18, 2023 at 5:29 am #420884
You are spot on about learning to worry about about health issues from a parent. I don’t blame myself for their anxiety, nor do I blame them. Unfortunately, I’m doing the same thing with my son. I’m aware of it and I try to keep it in control, but I fear I’ve instilled it in a him. He has different triggers than I do, and he’s not nearly as anxious as I, but I see it. 🙁July 18, 2023 at 5:52 am #420885
You said “So I am guessing that an introverted empath needs to be around quieter, gentler, joyful people and a slower more natural lifestyle to help them flourish?” I feel that you are perfectly describing what I crave.
I love my home, but when I’m there, I think of all of the things I “need” to get done. I have OCD so I have a big list of things that I want to organize (unless I complete them, they float around my head endlessly). I love my parent’s home, but I have a big family and there’s lots of stimulation. In my work, I’m either too busy or bored. Lately I haven’t have enough to keep me busy, which gives me time to think “I should be able to find a project, I wish I was home getting things done, etc” Spending time with friends is tough, because it always seems to revolve around food and I have Hystamine intolerance. It’s very difficult to eat correctly away from home. It tends to spike my anxiety – “How am I going to feel?” There is really only one place that brings me peace –
My Mother-in-law lives in a little cottage by the lake. Visiting her is one of my favorite things to do – she’s very calm and loving and loves to laugh. her sun porch and backyard bring such peace to me, I feel like I’m away from it all. It’s hard to leave. In a way I feel like I’m driving away from heaven, back into hell (the real world). That may sound dramatic, but it’s how I feel.July 18, 2023 at 8:40 am #420888RobertaParticipant
I am glad that you do occasionally have access to a sanctuary. Now the trick is to create something similar at home, a sacred space can be as small as a niche on a bookshelf or as big as your own retreat hut in the garden. A person I know found the only place she could get away to was the toilet but she managed to put in a shelf that served as a mini altar.
During lockdown I shared accommodation with my son & family i was suprised how quick they all got used to me doing my practices and my young grandson understands that “Buddha time” means that if he is in my space he sits quietly or he waits patiently else where for me to come and play with him when I & others are finished.
I have never come across Hystamine intolerance what does that entail? One of my previous co workers had a reaction to bee products and it was amazing how many everyday items fell into this bracket.
I wish you all the best in finding a peaceful & fulfilling lifeJuly 18, 2023 at 11:42 pm #420911TeeParticipant
You are spot on about learning to worry about about health issues from a parent.
Yeah, if our parents (or one of them) is a worrier, they can’t calm us down, but make us even more anxious. Because we as children are helpless and totally dependent on our parents. And so if our parent is worried and anxious, our anxiety goes through the roof. There is no way we can calm ourselves down – since we need them to do that for us.
And this stays as a pattern, not just the mental pattern of catastrophizing and thinking the worst will happen, but also as hypervigilance in our autonomic nervous system. Our amygdala constantly firing and ringing the alarm bell, even if there is no danger at all.
I very much relate to this, because my mother is a worrier too, not so much about health but about everything else, always thinking in negative terms. So I’ve learned to worry too, nowadays it’s primarily about my health, because I do have some health issues which objectively make my life difficult. But I see how sometimes I start catastrophizing over the slightest little pain that I have, and it fills me with terror. In those moments I feel like a helpless little child, believing that something terrible is going to happen and I will be doomed.
Maybe you feel something similar when you start worrying about your son’s illness:
Whenever my son gets a fever I freak out and am afraid he’s going to die. … I’m utterly exhausted from all the fear, frustration, anger, depression, irritability, guilt – basically every negative emotion you can have.
Maybe when your son gets a fever, you start catastrophizing, and the alarm system in your brain (amygdala) starts going in overdrive and it spirals out of control. What helps me is to soothe myself in those moments, to tell myself that it’s going to be okay.
Because what I’ve noticed is that I have 2 parts active in those moments: one is the anxious voice, who is thinking the worst thoughts and believing that the pain I am having means something serious and potentially irreversible. That’s the internalized voice of my anxious mother, telling me that I should be worrying. The other part is my inner child, who is listening to this anxious voice and is freaking out, because the child is helpless and depends on the mother’s protection. If the mother is worried and anxious, then of course the child is in utter terror. And that’s how I really feel in those moments, when the worry gets out of control.
I’ve recently become aware of this mechanism, and so now when something happens, I tell myself that it’s going to be fine and not to worry. I am trying to soothe my inner child and be the calm, soothing parent to my inner child, rather than the anxious, catastrophizing parent. With that I am hopefully interrupting that automatic loop in my brain that activates the amygdala and gets me in the state of terror.
Perhaps you could try something similar? Of course, various relaxation techniques might be helpful too. As well as creating that safe, calm space within your home, as Roberta suggested.
Your mother-in-law (who you said is very calm and loving and loves to laugh) can be an anchor point for you as well, in the sense that not only you visit her regularly, but also, when you start worrying, you can imagine her telling you it’s going to be fine. So perhaps she can serve as that calming, soothing parental voice inside of your head, when your fear gets triggered.September 25, 2023 at 12:11 pm #422478
We communicated a bit back in Sept 2016, SEVEN years ago, in Nov-Dec 2017, and a bit in Aug 2021. In your four threads (the current dating July 2023), you shared that you have suffered from “severe anxiety and depression“, since you were a teenager, panic attacks, OCD, and your “biggest trigger has ALWAYS been the fear of severe illness”.
You “have tried everything through the years – many, many, medications (most of which I cannot tolerate) counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, supplements“, but no long-lasting improvement has occurred.
(the boldface in the following is my addition): “I’m utterly exhausted from all the fear, frustration, anger, depression, irritability, guilt – basically every negative emotion you can have. I don’t like my son to see me like this. I try so hard to turn the negatives into positives, but it seems that whenever I do, something goes wrong… There’s no reason for me to be so unhappy except that it runs in my family and I’m an introverted empath. I feel like a horrible person…. You are spot on about learning to worry about health issues from a parent. I don’t blame myself for their anxiety, nor do I blame them. Unfortunately, I’m doing the same thing with my son. I’m aware of it and I try to keep it in control, but I fear I’ve instilled it in a him. He has different triggers than I do, and he’s not nearly as anxious as I, but I see it“-
-seems to me that what happened was that as a child and teenager, you sort of drowned in your parents’ anxiety and you’ve been floundering ever since, struggling to come up to the surface of the water for air. Whenever you do get to the surface, something goes wrong and you go down under yet again.
I imagine that you cared for your parents a whole lot, being a very empathetic child, and it distressed you so much to see them anxious. Maybe you were afraid to lose them to what scared them so much, afraid to be left alone.
I wonder if any one of your parents still expresses their anxiety to you.. that would keep you under water, so to speak.
Do you relate to my drowning analogy? I would like to communicate with you about this more in depth, if you are reading this and willing.
anitaSeptember 25, 2023 at 3:06 pm #422489
Thank you for reaching out to me again. My parents have been retired for quite a few years and are having the time of their lives. For the most part, my Mother’s anxiety is a thing of the past, as is my father’s negativity. FI’m still holding onto it. And now they are calling me out on my negativity, not realizing they instilled it in me in the first place. My Dad and I were eating lunch one day and he suddenly said “Everything that comes out of your mouth is negative.” When I mentioned to my Mom that that bothered me, she said she agreed. I felt betrayed and angry for a couple of weeks until I wrote about it and finally let it go. I get it, they’re trying to make me aware of how negative I am, but I don’t respond well to “tough love”. There are many reasons for my negativity – not only is it ingrained I’m me, but I’m unhappy at work. Every job I have ends up that way, because I’m easily stressed (and push myself very hard) and just plain don’t want to work. I’ve slways had this silly vision of myself as a 50s housewife and feel bitter that we have to be a 2-incone household. I feel sick from stress much of the time (headaches, body aches, stomach issues, etc). A few years back I quit my job and took 2 months off. It was the happiest & healthiest I’ve felt since my maternity leave. I resent that my parents are so happy & carefree, because I want it so badly for me, too. Don’t get me wrong, they worked hard for many years and absolutely deserve to enjoy this time. I had a friend ask me the other day what I for fun and I couldn’t think of a thing. When I’m not working, I spend my time decompressing and resting (because I feel so badly), cleaning the house and spending time with my son (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that, but it’s hard because I often feel ill. I spend all weekend trying the calm down from the week, then Monday comes and the battle begins again.September 25, 2023 at 3:42 pm #422491LunaIsHereParticipant
I hope this message finds you well,
I feel your concern. Indeed, it sounds so much like that of an empath and a greatly intuitive person. As a sensitive person myself and an empath, I’ve struggled a lot with this too. However, there is this one concept that has helped me alleviate the pain a bit. The concept is self-compassion. I recommend that you do your own research on it and use it how you find it fit for you. I’ve later come across it in the context of comparison but my first encounter with it was at a time when I was doing some conscious self-growth myself and it has shifted my attitude towards my pain and the world’s.
But most of all, this is a good time to be gentle and take small steps with yourself. Going in nature also helps in these instances, and I’m sure that with a little introspection and spending some time with your loved ones, you’ll find a way to reconnect with yourself, and with the world eventually, with more strength and purpose.
Thank you for sharing.
LunaSeptember 25, 2023 at 7:04 pm #422497
Dear Kodi: I will read and reply to you in the morning (in about 11 hours from nw).
anitaSeptember 26, 2023 at 11:17 am #422514
You are welcome. The following are my thoughts, understandings and impressions, correct or not- it is for you to decide. It may distress you to read or to consider what’s to follow, so please, be prepared, and you are welcome, of course, to read or not to read, to address and reply to any part, or not. My motivation is to help just a bit, I hope.
“My Dad and I were eating lunch one day and he suddenly said ‘Everything that comes out of your mouth is negative‘“-
– I know that it is not true that everything that comes out of your mouth is negative because you’ve been trying hard throughout your threads to state the positives, and you stated positives even without trying. Examples: first, original post, 4th sentence, Sept 2016: “I am happily married with a 5 year old son; we have our own house in a small town and a dog…“; Nov 2017: “My husband is in turn very loving and sensitive to my feelings“; Aug 2021 (addressed to me): “Thank you so much for your kind and supportive response“; July 2023: “ I actually have a pretty good life – happily married, employed, have a house, a wonderful son“; Sept 25, 2023 (your most recent post): “My parents… are having the time of their lives. For the most part, my Mother’s anxiety is a thing of the past, as is my father’s negativity“.
So, why (I am asking myself) did your father say that everything that comes out of your mouth is negative? The only reason I can think of is that he was angry at you, and therefore, he was- not empathetic- but rude to you.
“When I mentioned to my Mom that that bothered me, she said she agreed“- so both unempathetic toward you. I mean, if your mother was empathetic, she’d ask you (if she didn’t yet know) why you are so negative, or she’d apologize for instilling negativity in you (“they instilled it in me in the first place“, it being negativity).
“I get it, they’re trying to make me aware of how negative I am“- (1) they are not aware that you are already aware? (2) are they not aware that they instilled negativity in you; they think that you were born negative and it has nothing to do with them..?
“but I don’t respond well to ‘tough love’“- like the song says, “what’s love got to do with it?” A child is invested in seeing her parents in the most positive light; often, children (into adulthood) interpret their parents’ expressed anger and even abuse as “tough love”. (I say it’s tough.. but it’s not love).
“There are many reasons for my negativity – not only is it ingrained I’m me, but I’m unhappy at work. Every job I have ends up that way, because I’m easily stressed“- if negativity is ingrained in a person during childhood, it doesn’t disappear in the context of work, or adulthood. Negativity instilled in childhood is far reaching and it contaminates a variety of adult contexts.
“I’ve always had this silly vision of myself as a 50s housewife“- 1950s/ early 60s TV series do depict traditional homes as peaceful homes.
“A few years back I quit my job and took 2 months off. It was the happiest & healthiest I’ve felt since my maternity leave“- I had a happiest and healthiest 2-months off my anxiety and depression when I first left my mother and country and travelled to New York City during Christmas.. Magical. But then I got together with my mother in NYC and the magic turned to anxiety and depression.
“I resent that my parents are so happy & carefree, because I want it so badly for me, too“- happy, carefree, after a lifetime of stress? (I wonder if they are recently retired and are experiencing their own temporary Magic)
Currently, you are 42. In your previous threads you shared: “I.. battled anxiety and depression all my life… I have had severe anxiety and depression since I was a teenager” and in this thread: “I’ve had anxiety and depression all my life“.
Previously: “My Mother-in-law lives in a little cottage by the lake. Visiting her is one of my favorite things to do – she’s very calm and loving and loves to laugh. her sun porch and backyard bring such peace to me, I feel like I’m away from it all. It’s hard to leave. In a way I feel like I’m driving away from heaven, back into hell (the real world)“-
-your life growing up at home, with your parents was very stressful, unloving, no laughter… no peace.. hard to live in.. hell…?
“I don’t blame myself for their anxiety, nor do I blame them” (2023)- but you blame yourself for the anxiety they instilled in you?
“I have good relationships with my parents” (2016)- at what cost?
“Unfortunately, I’m doing the same thing with my son. I’m aware of it and I try to keep it in control, but I fear I’ve instilled it in a him. He has different triggers than I do, and he’s not nearly as anxious as I, but I see it” (July 2023)- is experiencing so much anxiety on your part, for so long, and passing it on to the next generation.. is it the cost/ the price to pay for you having good relationships with your parents, not rocking the boat with them?
“Is it okay to want to be happy?” (the title of this thread): it is okay to blame your parents (“I .. don’t blame them“) for what they are responsible for- for no other reason but so to remove the blame from yourself, to free yourself from guilt that doesn’t belong to you (“I have so much guilt… I feel like a horrible person“, July 10, 2023), .. Free yourself from unearned guilt, and you’ll free yourself from much of the anxiety and depression you’ve suffered from for so long.
Easier said than done, isn’t it?