March 4, 2019 at 9:33 am #282827
Dear Tiny Buddha,
I wonder if you can help? I am a terrible terrible worrier and tend to catastrophize. I don’t feel I’ve got enough fight in me to meet the difficulties that life brings.
I have managed to get myself into a tricky legalistic type scenario that I’m worried will cost us financially more than we can manage. My husband doesn’t seem worried and tells me I’m getting things out of perspective. I think he doesn’t worry enough about things. He is quite a tough person and has a lot of fight in him.
We are incredibly lucky, have children and a lot to lose. The responsibility of not messing things up on behalf of the children feels overwhelming. My husband seems to find the world quite a benign place – he just trusts everything will work out. I don’t understand this and often feel terrified of things that might happen. I look around the world and see plenty of trouble. I wonder if my children will have what it takes to navigate life. I feel awful that I have brought a scenario to the family that might cause us trouble and spoil their lives if it causes us significant financial trouble. I think I am angry at myself for having messed up – it was completely unintentional.
I don’t want to discuss the actual legal problem – it’s too complicated. I just need some general advice. I don’t know where to find the strength not to worry so much and to fight this problem if it becomes big. How do I help build resilience in the children when I don’t have any ? How do I forgive myself if things go badly wrong ?March 4, 2019 at 11:31 am #282923
You wrote: “I wonder if my children will have what it takes to navigate life”-
They need to feel safe in their childhood home. If they do, they will navigate life better than most. To feel safe in their childhood home they need to not be exposed to hostility, that means to not witness fights between parents and to not be attacked by a parent physically or verbally, or experience a parent’s silent anger on an ongoing basis, such as a parent giving a child the silent treatment.
In addition to lack of hostility in the home, a child need to feel that his/her parents are in adequate control of things, capable to take care of the child and of whatever else needs to be taken care of. When a parent is visible anxious a lot of the time, the child figures the parent is not capable, not in control and therefore the child is in trouble, not in good hands, so to speak.
“How do I help build resilience in the children when I don’t have any?”- it is not too late to build your own resilience. Attend quality psychotherapy, or a free support group, go for daily walks, yoga or any of the many helpful things people do to lower their anxiety on a daily basis. There is plenty of literature on the matter, including on the Home Page here, I believe, under blogs, click on mindfulness .
In the meantime, as you build your own resilience, in the presence of your children, pretend. Keep in mind that they need to see/ hear you confident and calm and pretend to be these things best you can. If you feel too anxious and your calm husband is present, take a time out, go for a walk, and leave your children with your husband for a while.
I hope your legal concern is resolved soon. Maybe seeking legal counsel on the matter will be helpful to you.
anitaMarch 5, 2019 at 4:27 am #283049
I came here to post too that I feel my life is spiralling out of control . It feels right now that everything we touch goes wrong for us and it is costing us so much financially but I do try to remember each day ( thanks to the newsletters from here ) to be aware of what we do have .
So you have a husband who is telling you not to be over anxious so perhaps really there is no need to overthink on things . You have your lovely children so be thankful there too and unless it’s case where you are worried you might lose your home try to be calm about it all .
This is what i try to do . I get so overwhelmed with everything going wrong sometimes I forget we have lots to be thankful for .March 5, 2019 at 7:54 pm #283185
You might be too fixated on things going right/correctly in your life that you’ve developed anxiety over things going wrong. Well, that’s perfectly normal since no human on earth likes it when they mess up or when life just can’t seem to get any worse than what happening to you. No one wants the curve ball life throw at you which is why people try as much as possible to avoid bad things, but bad things will happen. When bad things happen, you could get burnt so badly that you’ve developed trauma or it reminds you your worth as a person that you begin to worry about when it might happen again. Then you begin to fixate on things being okay vs things going bad. Right now your situation is the latter and it’s really bearing down on your self-esteem because you might be the cause of its beginning.
But this bad situation can be a good starting point on the lesson of letting go of certain fears for you, one of which seems to be the fear of the future (and maybe the fear of being a bad parent).
First of all, you will mess up. You’re human, it’s difficult not to mess up in life. But you can mess up with grace.
Now, it might seem like a bad thing to let your children see you mess up, but it’s actually a good thing because you can model for your children that it’s okay to fail at something, that it’s okay to make mistakes. If they do not have a good model of failure, they will go onward to their adult life thinking they can’t fail because they will disappoint everyone they know so they will try to be the perfect student, the perfect worker bee, the perfect romantic partner, the perfect friend, the perfect child, etc., until they completely burnt themselves out, develop depression then turn to something that will take away the pain temporarily, usually alcohol and drugs.
So, exaggerated situation above, but your children does need a good model of failure. For if they were told their whole childhood that messing up is not okay, then they will try very hard to never fail. And when they fail, will probably develop the fear of failure because they failed the first time which probably means that they are a failure because they learned that they cannot mess up when they were a kid which means they cannot fail again. But that fear is very tiring to carry around because then your children will constantly tell themselves they cannot fail which means they either set out to fail before they can even fail or work themselves to the bone to never fail yet still fail so doesn’t that mean they are a failure?
See how that work?
So if this situation does involve legal work, it would be best to be honest with your children that something is happening, you don’t need to tell them the details, and that it might affect some things in the house so you will need your children to work with you when you think you might need help. Your children will be confuse, but they will also be happy to know that you trust them as their parent to tell them what is going on, even if they aren’t involved in the procedures. Because even if you try to hide it, children have the uncanny ability to know/feel when the parents are stress about something, but they don’t know what is happening so can only walk on eggshells around you while you deal with what it is that is stressing you and your husband. That would only cause THEM anxiety, even when you finalized things. Because by not saying anything, you left your children to speculate just who or what is stressing you out and then the house is just a depressing place to be because you’re going around stressed so your children has to be careful not to stress you out further and it continues and continues and continues. That is not the best scenario for anyone.
So be a model for your children in that every human being will make some kind of mistake, big and small, in their life, but it does not define them. Your mistake does not make you a failure unless you tell yourself you are a failure. So now that you did something wrong, tell your children that something is happening, again no need for details, but since you are responsible and accountable for your actions, you will deal with it gracefully. That is the kind of lesson that your children need now because if you try to protect them from making mistakes now, when they do make mistakes after leaving your house, it might cost them a very heavy price. At least now, when your children does mess up, you can be there to help them realize that it’s not the end of the world, they will get through it, that it does not make them a failure, while having them take responsibility for their actions to finding their own solutions to their mistakes.
So the best thing to do now is work on accepting the fact that you are human. Since you fear messing up, you fear the future and doing things that will bring bad things to your life so you try to avoid bad things. That kind of thinking is very heavy, it would be best to look into examining those thoughts. After all, the more you tell yourself that you have no strength, no courage, no resilience, it does mean that you have no strength, no courage, no resilience because you’ve already decided for yourself that you don’t have any of that. Only YOU yourself can decide whether you have any of that, regardless of what the world tries to tell you, so you decide, do you have no resilience?
You will mess up, that’s a fact, but that doesn’t mean it has to end there.March 7, 2019 at 6:12 am #283457
Thank you all for your help, I really do appreciate it. I am definitely guilty of catastrophizing. But I do feel incredibly vulnerable right now.
The situation is this. I have a flat in a building owned by someone who did not get council approval to say he had built it to the right standards (building control). I contacted the council for advice and was told they can’t certify just one flat. I asked them to come and give me advice on how to make it safer even if I couldn’t have a certificate. This is where it goes wrong. The council official told me to email him saying I had paid my ‘fee’ and he would pop round and have a look. I did this even thought I had not paid a fee because I understood I wasn’t eligible for a certificate but it felt morally acceptable to tell a white lie to get the advice to make the flat safer.
The fire officer came and gave advice and we installed smoke alarms and fire doors as advised. Then the council officer who had asked me to lie, came round and said that he could send me something. He didn’t say what but asked me to email him. I emailed asking for ‘relevant documentation’ (no reply) and then I emailed asking for a certificate for our flat assuming he meant he could send something official even if it wasn’t a complete certificate.
The council official sent a certificate in my name, saying the WHOLE building was safe. Not just my flat. At first we assumed he had the discretion to sign off the whole building – and perhaps he does – but we became uneasy because he had not inspected the flat upstairs. The flat upstairs was sold and I imagine their solicitor told them everything was in order. Building control certificates are public documents. We contacted the council again to raise the problem and he came to inspect the flat upstairs. It turns out there are fire risks with the flat upstairs. It is rented out.
We told the council officer he has to sort this out – get the fire officer round and clear up the mess. He is super slow at responding.
My worry is simply this – if there is a fire – and someone is hurt – I will be held partly responsible. Because I told I lie, albeit in the attempt to do something good, I feel I have lost credibility. My lie makes it easy for the council official to tell other lies about me and blame me. I have a little evidence in my favour but I am very scared.
My husband is trying to sort this out. He feels it’s clearly the council officials fault and I have nothing to worry about – but I’m not so sure. I have children and apart from the awfulness of potential injuries / death in a fire I don’t want to end up in prison!
I could have kept quiet about the whole thing but I decided it was better to get into trouble doing the right thing that get into trouble trying to cover my back. I am thinking about escalating the whole thing to the council officials boss if he doesn’t respond soon.
What I am asking for from this site – is some compassion. I feel dreadful. My motives were only ever decent but I feel like a complete idiot. I am angry at myself. I feel I wandered into something like a fool that could potentially have terrible consequences. It never occured to me that a council official would do something that was possibly actually professional misconduct in my name.
The only good thing is that the owner of the un-safe flat now knows about it and can help sort it out.
Thank you to everyone who cares enough to take an interest in other people’s problems. Worry is a lonely place to be.March 7, 2019 at 7:13 am #283463
Because of your tendency to worry and catastrophize, better than trying to fix a problem that was already created, is to prevent a problem from happening. Therefore, before you act in the future, stop and think, be careful and choose your words and actions thoughtfully, making sure you do not lie, that will save you a lot of distress.
Regarding the current problem, I will try to understand it best I can by repeating what you shared:
You live in a flat, in a building that you don’t own. The owner didn’t get the certification required from building-control/council certifying the building as safe. You contacted council. You lied to council on an email, claiming to have paid a fee to the council and following that email a fire officer came to your flat and gave you advice on how to make your flat safer. Smoke alarms and fire doors were installed in your flat. Next, you asked the council for certification regarding the safety of your flat.
The council then sent you a certificate declaring not only your flat as safe, but the whole building. You then contacted asking them to inspect the upstairs flat which does pose some fire risks. The council has not responded yet. You are worried that there a fire will break in the upstairs flat, that someone will get injured as a result of the fire, that you will be held partly responsible for the fire and injuries, that the council will lie about you as a retribution for the lie you told, holding you even more responsible for the fire and injuries, that you will not have evidence to defend yourself, that you will be prosecuted, found guilty, and end up in prison.
My input: is it possible for you to pay the fee to the council, the fee you claimed to them that you paid, but didn’t? If so, that will be a step in the right direction.
I am not a legal professional, and if I was, it would have required that I was aware of the laws and regulations in your part of the world. What I see is indeed catastrophizing: I don’t see how you can be held responsible for a fire you wouldn’t start or have anything to do with it. It is the owner that would be held responsible for lack of certification, not a tenant in another flat, my logic says!
I don’t see a reasonable possibility at all that the council will have an evil intent to get you into legal trouble, to send a tenant who is a mother to prison. For a lie. Even if the council finds out that the fee wasn’t paid while you claimed it was paid, how do they know that, let’s say, that you believed at the time that the fee was paid by your husband?
Back to my suggestion of paying the fee now- maybe you can email the council the fee now?
anitaMarch 8, 2019 at 2:11 am #283619
Thanks Anita for your input and of course this isn’t a site for legal advice. This situation is not quite as you understand, I do actually own the flat in building owned by someone else. The real issue is that someone (council official) has done something wrong in my name, dragged me into it and I think will now tell further lies about me to shift the blame.
The other problem is me catastrophizing. In the time frame before we get things sorted – I feel exposed to arguments about legal liability in the event of a fire. It’s just a very stressful thought to deal with. I’m not liable – but the council chap is unlikely to own up and I’ve made it easy for him to stitch me up.
I am getting there slowly – we will report the man to his boss next week if we don’t get a response. It’s not likely that the worst will happen in the mean time. I feel emotionally and mentally exhausted but I am accepting that and just doing what I can each day. I hope we don’t all end up in court. I need to find more strength to see this through. Even reporting the council official seems very scary. I am wondering how messy it will all get and fretting all the time.
I don’t know how to find more emotional strength in the face of serious worries.March 8, 2019 at 5:32 am #283653
You are welcome.
Before you do anything else (” we will report the man to his boss next week”), maybe you should see an attorney, a legal professional who is familiar with the policies/ bureaucracy of that council/ building control where you live and follow legal advice.
A consultation with an attorney can put your mind at ease, if it is a reputable attorney who tells you that you don’t have anything to worry about.
anitaMarch 8, 2019 at 7:29 am #283667
A couple of things here I think. From the legal problem itself posted, seems like a lot of similar issues we’ve had in dealing with flats we rent out. Councils are notoriously slow and bureaucratic – it’s highly unlikely this was any kind of attempt of professional misconduct in your name – more a simple mistake that just needs clearing up which will take some time to do but will get there. Honestly, we’ve had situations where we have apparently had a CCJ against us for debt on a flat in a building we didn’t even actually own. It is seriously shocking what happens in the nature of business mistakes.
Where I think you are really struggling with though is two-fold. One, in allowing yourself to deal with the fact you made a mistake. It happens. It will always happen. What matters is how you deal with it – both for yourself and in the example you want to set for your children. E.g. why are you now allowing your husband to step in and sort this out – would it not be a stronger example to be able to say, yes, I made a mistake, it is ok and here I am sorting it out. Likewise – the second thing – using this experience to practice overcoming your nature of catastrophising such events, problems. Logically knowing and emotionally feeling are different – it is in facing issues and dealing with them as best we can – understanding what we can and can’t impact and only worrying about the things that we can do something about – that’s the life skills you want to teach your children I think?March 8, 2019 at 10:18 am #283701
Thanks Michelle for your reply. I think I’m very hard on myself . Unfortunately I do think that the council officer crossed a line but I’ve no interest in accusing him. We’re just looking for a practical solution.
Im very bad at living with uncertainty – even though life is of course uncertain.
This is a very supportive community- thank you to the lady that set it up and to everyone kind enough to bother to respond. It helps to know there is kindness out there.March 14, 2019 at 8:26 am #284557
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the situation you are going through. It’s not easy to see the light in mist of a storm.
If you take the situation on a different angle, you can see that things are actually better than you are perceiving them at this moment.
Don’t be so hard on you, instead be proud of you and take time to celebrate the micro victories you achieved.
1. You are aware that you have a problem to fix and you are brave enough to seek help. Congraturation.
2. Every challenge is a learning opportunity, you got yourself in this situation because you were trying to find solution. Forgive yourself for not knowing what was the best way of doing it. What did you learn after that? Forgive yourself for making mistakes, Forgive yourself for giving away your power.
3. You also have a great support system – your husband, who he is staying positive and strong for both of you. If he believes that you’ll be ok that means, there is a solution to your problem, trust you, your children and your husband……… you are stronger than you think.
4. Self empowerment books and videos are great ressources to learn about getting your inner power back, trust and reselience.
5. You are on the right truck Jaquette, life is about discovering oneself, the journey is going to be long and the key is to find satisfaction in each moment.
I can go on about things that are working just great for you and keep telling you how strong you actually are but it won’t help you as much as you are doing it yourself, maybe you can to it with your family as fun family bonding time.
There is no right or wrong way of parenting, so there is nothing you can do or say that will compromise your children’s well being because they themselves have their inner power guiding them (talking from experience)
Be well my dear Jaquetta,