Have you experienced an accident or another traumatic event which caused you to fear for your life? If so, you may be experiencing some of the following symptoms:
- Flashbacks, in which you feel you are reliving the event
- Frequent distressing nightmares
- Dissociation, where you feel detached or preoccupied and find it difficult to concentrate
- Avoidance of people or places that remind you of the event
- Drinking, drug-taking, eating or working too much in order to avoid thinking about the event
- Feeling on guard, on the lookout for danger.
There are a number of reasons why some people suffer from excessive anxiety, but in many cases, anxiety begins at a young age and develops, through repetition, into a habit. Often unhelpful patterns of thinking and dealing with emotions are learned from our parents and other adults.
Essentially, anxiety is created and reinforced when we resist experiencing our emotions. For example, if we are afraid of experiencing anger, then whenever any hint of anger arises in our minds we will try and push it away, and this produces a strong sense of anxiety. Each time this happens, we creates a pattern or habit in our mind, so that whenever the feeling of anger arises, we are likely to resist it and will experience anxiety instead.
Have you ever wondered why the same problems keep cropping up in your relationships? Or why it is that some people get into healthy relationships but it never seems to happen for you? It may be to do with the attachment style you learnt as a child.
Given the option, most of us would generally prefer not to feel pain. That is the way it is meant to be.
When we are functioning well, we experience a flow of emotion within a tolerable range and we feel balanced, well, socially engaged, and able to cope. We have systems in place to maintain such a state, which is optimal for our survival and functioning. Spending too much time in a hyper- or hypoaroused state (outside of this “Window of Tolerance”) is detrimental to our physical and mental health, and can even result in death.
In the natural way of things, a child learns to regulate his emotions through his attachment to his primary carer, usually his mother. When he experiences distress or pain, he runs to his mother, and in finding comfort, his distress will subside. Through this natural cycle, repeated over a period of time, a child learns that he can experience pain, but not be overwhelmed by it. He gains the tools to comfort himself and regain his equilibrium. Conversely, if the mother is for some reason not attuned to the child or is unavailable to meet his needs, the child experiences emotional abandonment. If this happens frequently, the child’s ability to regulate his emotions will be limited and this may lead to relationship difficulties later in life. [Read more…]
If you’re having difficulties in your relationship and find yourself going round in circles and resolving nothing, the Karpman Drama Triangle may help you to get a handle on the dynamics and help you to make healthy changes.
Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental distress in the UK. Because these conditions impact so much on the lives of sufferers and their families, it is understandable that many people seek a quick fix that will get them back to normal as quickly as possible. Antidepressants seem to offer this possibility; however, recent research shows that antidepressants may not be as effective as previously thought, especially in cases of mild depression. The Royal College of Psychiatry estimates that between 50% and 65% of people treated with an antidepressant for depression will benefit. Furthermore, according to a Canadian researcher, Dr Paul Andrews, individuals who take antidepressants can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression than those who don’t.
Have you ever thought of yourself as lazy, unintelligent, less capable than others? Have you ever wondered why you’ve underachieved in life, despite having been praised in your early years for being clever and good at certain things? I certainly have.
During my counselling training, I had the opportunity to seek an understanding of why I was so scared to risk progressing in life. From what I had learnt about person-centred counselling theory, children need to know that they are loved and accepted just as they are. However, the reality is that all children are exposed to “conditions of worth” to some degree, and learn that they are only acceptable to significant others if they think, feel or behave in certain ways. The way I made sense of my underachievement was that I only felt acceptable if I achieved. If I failed, I would be judged, therefore it was easier not to try at all. But how did this situation come about?
Until fairly recently, I had thought of anger and rage as being on a continuum; I believed they were different shades of the same emotion. I then had a life experience that triggered what I now know to be rage. I experienced this as an extreme and primitive emotion, which was way beyond any angry feelings I had ever experienced before. Underlying this rage was a terror of not being able to cope alone.