January 4, 2018 at 2:14 am #184969
hello Anita and tiny Buddha community,
Happy New Year! I hope you are well. As you know from My prior post, things have improved overall and I am glad to say I've made progress. However I am aware that in this journey there will be times that are extremely difficult As I uncover more from within. It almost feels like excavating the inner deep fossil roots of the ongoing chronic anxiety and patterns. Each Uncovering comes with its own emotional journey.
Forgive me if the typing is not clear or with great punctuation as I am on my phone and the format isn't ideal at this time.
I have been having a great deal of insomnia over the last few days. Tonight when I woke up I felt that familiar feeling of, enough is enough how long will I struggle with this, it’s only like I make a few steps forward and then back to this place of feeling overwhelmed with crippling anxiety and here I am at 1 AM unable to sleep feeling as tense as possible. I beat myself up over it because I had a healthy dinner, went to yoga class, practices meditation and had a very pleasant evening. I guess I felt pretty frustrated for trying to set myself up for a very peaceful evening to get better sleep but felt: here I am back in that same place again. My natural reaction was to find a way to get myself back to sleep, read something, Lull my brain away from being tense to something more comfortable. I came across some articles on this website and one of them really resonated with me. So I took a new approach:
It was about listening to anxiety instead of asking it to go away. It was about listening to what the negative emotions were really saying. At first I found this very simplistic, I thought to myself I have been dealing with this for over 10 years of course I have listen to this, this has become a part of my normal life, it is a constant voice in my head, of course I am listening to it it is a part of my every being. But then as I read further, I ask myself, am I really listing or am I just always getting mad and saying why do I feel like this. I realized it was a little bit of both. I have made progress and allowing myself to feel the feelings and letting them pass and not resisting them, but of course they’re still is that component of resistance, and frustration with oneself for going back to these patterns. I am sure that you do have some feedback about this.
As my reading continued and my thoughts wandered, I came across the concept of self trust. I found myself realizing that I think I do lack self trust. On the outside I feel that I am a confident person, I am well respected, Liked, easy to get along with and someone that people would deem as An extroverted outgoing person who is a great friend to many and an important part of their life. But does this mean or include that I really trust myself? based on my reading it appears to me that self trust involves self compassion, self kindness, ability to rely on oneself without always looking outward. Looking outward prior to inward seems to be a sign of looking for external fulfillment and shows lack of self trust. It is hard for me to explain the following but I will try my best. I have found that in the last few weeks, it is my natural tendency to Feel the need to bounce ideas off of people even prior to allowing them to really sinking in my own head. I have stopped myself in my tracks a few times, questioned it as : wait instead of just allowing it to sit with in myself why do I feel the instant need to share it with someone. This was the first thought of me feeling that perhaps I need external validation to feel that something is good or important. This isn’t to the extent of social media and constantly needing validation. However I do see signs in myself– for example we are considering a move. I find that I need to talk about it constantly to almost convince myself it is a good idea. Perhaps I need cues from the outside world to convince myself and trust myself that whatever idea I come up with is a valid one and good one. Perhaps I don’t have the self assurance and self trust to actually go with a thought and sit with it on my own. This is the key.
This is just one recent example, and there have been many throughout my life that aren't as straightforward, but this is most recent and pretty easy to wrap my brain around And obviously current.
As a sidenote or a corollary, looking back I see that my mother projected all of her issues outside of herself. Growing up what we had was never enough it was always looking at what other people had. It was the classic example of if you always look at what you don’t have you always be poor but if you value what you do have you’ll be rich. Example that sticks out in my mind is being at Disney World at the age of 10 or so, my sister was around 3 years old. I remember we were posing for a picture and a classic picturesque Disney World moment. My mom looks to the side and sees a family abundant with many family members 10 or 15 or so and says to us, wow are they so lucky they have such a huge family here with them wouldn’t that be nice. That is an example From such a young age, and you also know a lot of the other background from my mother that doesn’t have to be explained again. I do wonder if some of this has to do with this lack of self trust. I find that I wasn’t really taught self trust. The funny thing is that I am a very strong self motivated successful individual. And thus I have and do have confidence in my abilities as a person and My character. Yet thus doesn't mean all the above is not true. It feels paradoxical at times. However when it’s moments like this when I am up at night and I’m finding that there are things pestering me I do Feel I really need to work on self assurance, self-love and allowing myself to have self validation- am I truly looking for it outwards and not in – I think so….January 4, 2018 at 5:35 am #184973
Dear Cali Chica:
Happy New Year to you too. I am well, thank you. I enjoyed your writing, flowing and easy to read.
Regarding the first part of your post, you wrote that when you woke up last night your thoughts were: “enough is enough…. here I am back in the same place again.”
I see an image of your mother standing above you as you lie in bed at 1 AM or so, saying to you in a disapproving, accusatory tone:
Enough is enough, Cali Chica!
How long will you bother me with this? You take a few steps forward and then again, back to this!
And you are doing this after I cooked a healthy dinner for you! After I arranged for a meditation for you and did everything I could to make it a pleasant evening for you!
I think that your mother, and then, her mental rep in your brain, has turned the gifts of effort and money (food, clothes, toys, trips, formal education, etc.) to weapons against you.
Next, regarding your reaction to the article you read: you have been aware of being anxious for years and you resisted it, tried to push it away. We as human animals are repulsed by pain, and so, we instinctively resist. To allow ourselves to feel pain, to relax into anxiety, goes against our instinct and this is why it is so difficult, and yet, it is possible.
It is possible only for humans, with that thinking ability that other animals lack. If your foot cramps, for example, you can think: It is okay. It will pass, and think that all through the experience. You can, with the aid of your thinking ability, notice/ be mindful of how it feels, how the pain increases and then decreases and then gone. Same with anxiety.
Next, you mentioned “self compassion, self kindness”- when the mental rep of your mother is standing above your bed as you lie there awake, blaming you for being awake, something you didn't choose, instead of comforting you- she is not being compassionate or kind to you. She is being aggressive, operating against you.
How can you trust yourself when you believe you are wrong, or guilty: you wouldn't trust a convicted thief with your material goods, would you?
You wrote: “Perhaps I need external validation to feel that something is good or important”- a child needs that external validation to feel that she is good and important. When this validation is not given, then the child and the adult she grows up to be, feels that she is not good and not important, and that other people are good and important. Therefore.. they know better.
Regarding Disneyworld at ten as an example of your mother's attitude and behavior: when she made her comment, she, again, took a plus, what a gift until that point, and turned it into something else, a lack. She took something that was happy and turned it to something sad.
The progress you have made, your successful career, successful living is like DisneyWorld. You are asleep following a successful day and a pleasant evening. As you sleep, your mother (her mental rep) appears above your bed and says: But look there! There is something missing here, something wrong here, look there!” and so you wake up to her voice and you look there.
But there is nothing there, nothing better. It was good where you were, sleeping.
Post again, if you'd like, and we can continue to communicate.
January 4, 2018 at 7:44 am #185005
- This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by anita.
Thank you so much. I like how from the beginning of your post you brought my mother's voice up. You made it evident to me that even though I think I'm thinking clearly or for myself it is tainted by this guilt and burden I have obtained from the aforementioned mother's voice.
This part resonated with me so well. It was what I was searching for over night- those words and that concept: the paragraph of things were good while I was sleeping, however waking up Her voice saying “something is missing” etc.
My question to you then. Is that I journal I have seseen a therapist I do believe I have awareness. But I would like some feedback from you as to – how? How (based on the example above almoat as a metaphor if you will) do I say to myself no – I am sleeping and I feel peaceful because everything IS fine, and no I don't need to wake up and have endless rumination and worry about what is wrong and find things that are wrong….January 4, 2018 at 7:47 am #185007
Sorry I got cut off:.
But there is nothing there, nothing better. It was good where you were, sleeping.
Yes I know this! So well put. Yet I struggle. And if anything because I know this I feel perplexed as to when will I be able to accept that, live it, sink in it and not find “something to worry about”January 4, 2018 at 8:24 am #185017
Dear Cali Chica:
As to when will you “be able to accept that, live it, sink in it and not find ‘something to worry about'”-
My answer: maybe never. After all, your mother is not likely in her lifetime to change her mental habits. Most people don't.
It is possible, but it takes work of such persistence, such patience, that few take it on. Of all the challenges in your life that you successfully overcame, such as all those leading to your medical degree and successful career, this challenge, healing anxiety, is the most difficult by far.
You wrote that you have awareness and the question now is HOW. Back to you waking up at one am, talk to yourself so that your voice is what you hear, over her voice. Replace her voice of delusion with your voice of reason and reality. The more often you do so, the faster you heal. This way you insert new neuropathways, new connection in the old, and over time, you rewire your brain.
Got to have patience. There should be another word for the kind of patience that is required.
anitaJanuary 4, 2018 at 10:03 am #185037
sister and anita,
Anita- i just wanted to share that you have been so life-changing for us. I need you to know that you are truly making such a difference in ours and other people's lives. i truly appreciate how you also tell us personal tidbits about your life. it helps my sister and i feel like we are not alone. Okay, I'll continue to write in my own thread !
cali sisterJanuary 4, 2018 at 10:22 am #185041
Thank you, cali sister, for your appreciation of my input. To your thread, next.
anitaJanuary 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm #185101
What came to my mind as I processed your responses is the following: i don't really mean to ask “how” do you get rid of that pattern, and accept it live it sink in etc. -because as you said that is the most difficult task – and requires endless patience. What I mean is more feedback on the following:
“As you sleep, your mother (her mental rep) appears above your bed and says: But look there! There is something missing here, something wrong here, look there!” and so you wake up to her voice and you look there.
But there is nothing there, nothing better. It was good where you were, sleeping.”
But in reality that's not true, instead i DO LOOK THERE. and I DO see yes this is wrong, yes that is wrong…
these may be mundane small things not overall picture, but yes i DO see this and become overwhelmed by it
such as going to sleep after a nice day, as above, nice relaxing evening, then waking up to that voice as you describe – then the mind does find things that are “wrong” (examples…of my thoughts and where the brain goes in these moments/rumination)
-oh so that friend that usually is so responsive, hasn't been – hmm is something wrong? hmm probably not. well why do people waiver so much in their responsiveness – that seems unfair and disappointing – wait are these people selfish, or wait am i foolish for being consistent in my approach-hmm (and then going down that cycle) this type of thinking is a big one
-there's more like above but just wanted to list an example of – something that say would “trigger” me to think YES see calichica there is something wrong, the voice is right – gosh now im a tight anxious knot of course i am awake and feeling like this…
so – this is more of my direct question, I “wake” and look over there and am told look something is wrong (when in reality it isn't) yet i look there- and i do see something that is not right…January 5, 2018 at 4:42 am #185167
Dear Cali Chica:
Maybe I will redo my description: As you sleep, your mother's mental rep appears above your bed and says: But look there! There is something wrong there…!” You wake up to her voice and look there. And you do see something wrong, and as you stay awake and look around, you see more that is wrong, more and more. Must not sleep, too much wrong yet to be seen.
In my first description your mother disappeared after you woke up. In this description she stays.
Of course there is a whole lot of wrong in the world, inside homes, in the streets, in hospitals, in congress… anywhere and everywhere. Of course, if you want to look for wrong, there is a lot to look at.
But for what purpose?
When you do think of something that is wrong in your life, a friend not responding to you like she used to, for example, think next: is there something I need to do about it? If there is, make a note of it and resolve to do it. If there is nothing for you to do, release the thought.
The purpose of attending to what is wrong is to fix it. If it cannot be fixed, or if it is not worthy of being fixed, if the problem is of no significant consequence to you, there is no purpose of looking at it anymore.
When your mother pointed to what was wrong, for her, in DisneyWorld, she did not fix her problem, meaning, she did not increase the number of family members she was with there. And she created a problem: turning a happy occasion for you and your sister into a sad occasion.
All we can do in this full-of-wrongs world, is not create any more. And then, accept those we cannot change and change those we can.
In your case, the wrong in your life that keeps raining on your parade, is your mother pointing to other wrongs. When you find yourself ruminating about the wrongs she/ her rep is pointing to, having your figurative mental flashlight pointing to those wrongs, move that flashlight to the left, to the one pointing, the rep herself.
anitaJanuary 5, 2018 at 5:45 am #185177
Yes these “problems” I come to usually A) don't have a solution — are rumination. or
B) aren't problems per se, but anxiety created about current things that aren't necessarily negative (am I looking at all my options for us to move, what if I'm not, do we even want to move..?)
when my mind goes to things in the A category, I struggle much more because of: rumination.
such as the friend example – like you said I should ask myself, is there something I should do or change the answer is 99.999% no (as I am such a “do-er” overdo-er) in fact. So it should be, listen you have done your part and over it as well, you can not control the other person. release the thought because you are only harming yourself.
just as my mom did in Disney, nothing good came of it, in fact it took over the happiness we had in front of us. key point (and life story for me)
I find this concept difficult this week – I feel a little defeated honestly, with thoughts such as – why do I let others have so much power over me, even if it isn't something they are doing that's personal (such as my rumination over a friend who has been flaky/not as responsive). or why can't I do a better job of shining that light like you said from the “problems” that mostly are not worth my time and energy, to the left – to my whole happy life where I have so so much good.
I know it will take practice, and like you said building new neuropathways. I also see what you mean in that I am conditioned to be this way (from a young age my mother imprinted this way of thought in me) and like you said since she looked for others for validation and happiness outside of herself, so do I. what we are doing is not good enough or important enough, therefore, the other person is good or important.
what are some thoughts/sentences/sayings that you think would help me during times where I do feel defeated in trying to tackle the above?
I know it is allowing yourself to release the worry – and I just feel very defeated by that concept today…feels almost impossible.January 5, 2018 at 6:32 am #185179
Dear Cali Chica:
Good morning to you too.
It is the times we feel defeated, times we feel distressed that are the opportunities for healing, for progress. First, by relaxing best you can into your current state of mind, not resisting it and not trying to escape it.
As aware as you believe you are, there is still much more awareness possible for you. This is why this process is so slow. You can't know today all that there is to know. It is impossible. The awareness or knowing of reality is incremental, little by little.
You wrote: “since she looked for others for validation and happiness outside of herself, so do I”- I claim there is more awareness required here: we all look for others for validation, can't help it, born that way. In Disney it is not validation she was looking for when she made her comment. She was looking for (temporary) relief from her distress. She said what she said to feel better. That is all.
You wrote: “why can't I do a better job of shining that light like you said from the ‘problems' …to my whole happy life where I have so much good”-
I didn't suggest that to the left is your happy life. If you re-read my suggestion, to the left is your mother pointing to wrongs. It is your mother who is your problem.
All of Disney magic, all that money spent on creating that happy experience, all gone because of a few words this woman said to you. This is so because there is no one and nothing more important to a child than her own mother. All the Disney characters smiling and entertaining, all those rides, the colors, the music… all are nothing in comparison.
No, it was not your mother's search for validation that rained on your parade then and keep raining on it. It is the same old same old motivation: relief at the expense of another. Like a person angry and breaking something, a relief. People break their children in a similar manner.
What I am writing here is tough to read, isn't it? Most people will run away from considering such things. And most do.
I didn't respond to everything you wrote, maybe later.
January 5, 2018 at 7:40 am #185183
- This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by anita.
Thank you for your reply – I know you may not be able to answer all at once as I am putting a lot out there. I do appreciate all of your wisdom as always.
This is a novel concept to me: “She was looking for (temporary) relief from her distress. She said what she said to feel better. That is all.”
I have not thought of it this way prior. This got me to think that perhaps my focus on the external prior to the internal is also a search for relief. Perhaps it allows me a distraction from my internal unsettlement/distress..
“to the left is your mother pointing to wrongs. It is your mother who is your problem.” I will try to wrap my brain around this today. and also think about – if it is my mother who is the problem, what does that mean for me, the person I am right now…and forward.January 5, 2018 at 7:57 am #185185
Dear Cali Chica:
You are welcome.
As to our quest for relief from distress: it takes many forms, and it takes place every day. Maybe every hour, every minute. You are a medical doctor: isn't the body seeking relief from distress every minute of every day, equalizing conditions (homeostasis) every minute of every day, for as long as we are alive, so to avoid the distress of higher or lower than desirable body temperature and glucose concentration in the blood? Same with our mental (physical really) processes.
As to your last paragraph: what does it mean to you… What it means to me, ongoing, as my awareness increases daily, is healing from anxiety, increasing well being.
anitaJanuary 5, 2018 at 8:21 am #185191
Question as to why would someone (my mother) focus on something outside of her such as look at that family they’re so lucky – as a means to seek temporary relief from distress. What does that mean exactly.
I guess i dont don’t really understand that concept, I am curious about it and would light you shed light on itJanuary 5, 2018 at 8:33 am #185199
Dear Cali Chica:
I didn't mean that she looked at other families so to find relief from her distress. I think she told you so to relieve her distress. It is the telling.
People talk to relieve their distress. Most people have to have an audience to hear what they say, so to relieve their distress. Best is an empathetic audience. In psychotherapy a lot of the relief clients experience is just that: talk and have someone empathetic listen. The more caring, the more empathetic the audience, the greater the relief.
A mother knows how important she is to her young children. When she talks, they listen, and listen with great empathy. Your mother felt emotional pain as she watched other families in Disney. She told you. She saw an expression of pain on your face (empathy)- that was her relief, I figure.