Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Anxiety’

Have You Arrived Yet?

Have you ever had someone ask you to call them when you have arrived at your destination? How did you respond? Did you interpret it as a sign of caring and love or an infringement on your personal space? The truth is that like many things we do in life we interpret things as a negative or positive based on our early conditioning.

People who dealt with fear growing up as a predominant factor in their early lives often need reassurance that all is okay. It is such an integral part of their makeup that they unwittingly perpetuate it on others and, at times, restrict growth. Taken to a further extreme they may even help create a fear of life in those they love the most. Do they do it purposely? Absolutely not! They are simply living out the life they experienced and passing it on to their loved ones. Is it time to hit the delete button?

As adults if we fall into the category of fearing life we can begin to confront that free floating fear and work through it by refusing to allow ourselves to continue to live in a state of constant anxiety and worry. The other option, of course, is to blame our responses on our upbringing and continue to live out a life script of fear. The truth is that once we come to grips with the fact that 99% of everything we worry about never happens we are at a cross road for decision making. Do we continue to worry and fret or slowly, gently wean ourselves away from the need to know – to control – to have something to worry about.

Teenagers often interpret the request to ‘check in’ as a sign of lack of trust. Sometimes it is due to events of the recent past. We know that as our children become young adults everything in their world becomes an issue of control. The challenging yet critical issue for parents is the gradual timing of letting the reins out slowly as our children mature. Too fast and they flounder, too slowly and they resent it.

For those who did not have an adult – a consistent mother figure in particular – in their lives that tried to loving watch, suggest, even direct the actions of their children at times the idea of ‘call me when you get there’ is foreign, an affront even, to them. They may stay stuck in the stage of a rebellious child for the rest of their lives. Deep down they know something was missing – what that was exactly – they are not sure.

Everything can be taken to an extreme. From eating and drinking at one end of the spectrum to advice giving and the ‘checking in’ factor to the other. Anything can become excessive. If we encounter a behavior or response directed to us that appears to be excessive try a gentle reminder to the person. ‘I’ve got this handled,’ is a statement that speaks volumes about personal responsibility and independence. Like life the issue is one of balance. It is a tricky road to negotiate at times.

Responses change as we mature in life. That is the beauty of it all. We don’t have to remain stuck behaving or responding the way we did in the past because everyday with each new life experience we are given the choice to see it as a potential for growth and deeper understanding or an excuse to remain stuck in the past. It is always up to us.

Maybe the next time someone asks you to let them know when you have arrived at your destination, you can take a deep breath and be grateful that someone who cares enough to request it is still in your life.

Survivor Guilt

Survivor Guilt also known as survivor syndrome was first identified in the 1960’s. It was the topic of a CNN special aired this week and dealt with an important aspect related to loss, grief and healing. The program delved into the topic by reviewing aviation. In the history of air flight only 14 people have survived major airplane crashes that resulted in a sole survivor. Many live with the question of ‘Why was I spared’ which seems to be a burden they carry for the rest of their lives. During the interviews some of these survivors made the comment, ‘I’m supposed to be grateful I survived but…’

In researching this topic It appears that this type of guilt is more common that we might first imagine. We know that many of our brave servicemen who return from war suffer from PTSD which often includes this type of guilt. But in addition, this type of guilt may even surface when a person experiences the death of a loved one and can be a major challenge to overcome.

The symptoms related to survivor guilt can included anxiety, social withdrawal, depression, physical complaint and loss of drive. Basically, the reason, purpose and relevance of life is called into question by the survivors. Without help they can become stuck in a space of anger, denial and feelings of hopelessness.

Recognizing this in ourselves or others is paramount for healing. Regardless of the type of situation involved in the loss we are suffering, we did not cause the loss and, in fact, could not have prevented it. The Universe is much more powerful than we are and destiny plays a major role in our lives. Each one of us has chosen the lessons and lives that would result in helping us learn our lessons. The loss of a loved one and our survival was the result of a life agreement long, long ago. Unfortunately, being human we sometimes believe that we should have been powerful enough, smart enough or wise enough to prevent the loss from happening. That’s just not how the Universe works.The American Politician William Jennings Bryan said, ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved (and understood).

When we reach out to others to help them process their grief it can make their grief a bit easier to handle. Any one of us may say just the right thing at just the right moment to help someone begin to overcome survivors’ grief. It is always worth the try and even if we do not see immediate improvement it is again, worth continuing our effort to reach out to a fellow traveler who is suffering.

Being there for someone and encouraging them to talk about their loss experience
helps immensely. Everyone needs someone to listen to them from time to time and experiencing a loss intensifies this need. It is always better to surface the feelings regardless of their nature than to keep them bottled up inside. Think of it as helping a potential volcano release some of the pressure before a full fledged eruption. A person’s loss may, at times, be like lava seething, bubbling just below the surface creating the type of pressure that can cause them to explode unless the occasional stem vents ( in the form of conversation and connection) surface to help release the pressure little by little.

We are here to learn our individual lessons and make the world a little better place by being in it. Helping others through their loss allows us to become a conduit for healing.

Have a great few days!

Tragic Events

When unforeseen and tragic events happen such as Hurricane Sandy we wonder why. People have lost their lives, their homes and belongings and some are struggling just to find drinking water. The feelings of helplessness and fear affect all of us. These natural disasters are humbling. We realize how tenuous life is in general. As we strive to accept and make sense of everything, the belief surfaces that we are spiritual beings in a physical body and our bodies do have an expiration date.

We know, of course, that there really is a thing called climate change. In all areas of the country we are seeing an intensification of the normal weather conditions. The scientific evidence is apparent. Yet, we still wonder why and think,to ourselves, how could this have happened?

As I watched the 12 plus feet of water rushing into areas of New Jersey and New York, I just kept thinking that there are so many things beyond our control, beyond our knowing. It helps to control anxiety and fear when we accept the thought that there is something bigger than ourselves in the Universe. It is important for us to remember that nothing happens by accident. All is as it should be. Following this reasoning the question then surfaces, what lessons are we supposed to learn from these life altering situations?

Our survival depends upon our willingness to be good stewards of the earth on which we live. Global warming is caused by many things. We are a part, a contributor, to the warming that is causing the extreme climate changes. The good news is that each of us, in our own way, can do something to improve the environment. We just need to make a commitment to do so.

Another huge lesson I see surfacing is a reminder that as Americans we are survivors. We can put aside our differences and come together for a cause greater than ourselves. We are tough, resilient folks who are willing to lend a hand in times of trouble. In the challenges of Hurricane Sandy, we have seen our federal and state governments working together within a matter of hours. The politics of the presidential election have been put aside, as it should be, for a bigger purpose. It has been impressive to see how fast the various agencies have joined hands to assist so many people. This tragedy cannot be undone but the question remains, will we internalize the lessons from it?

We can help the people on the east coast in various ways. One possibility is to send in a donation – even five dollars – to the Red Cross or some other reputable organizations. Every dollar will help to ease the pain of our fellow Americans.

As we watch the devastation unfold before our eyes we can’t help but offer a little prayer for those people whose lives have been changed forever. For those that lost a loved one everything changes. They will be experiencing the stages of loss on so many different levels. May they have the strength and resiliency to rebuild and face tomorrow.

We will help, we will survive because we are Americans!