Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’
Human behavior was always something that fascinated me. During my studies I learned about the difference between what people think they do and what they actually do. Since then I have been hooked. You see, when we are under pressure, we react differently to when we have time to think, analyze and react at our own pace.
Some people say that under pressure, we reveal our true selves. Others think it is the opposite – we are ourselves all the time and the ugly side of us comes out when we are pushed. I tend to think that when we are under pressure, our reptilian brain, the one in charge of “fight or flight”, takes over. Like a survival mechanism, we react instinctively to protect ourselves when we are stressed or we think we are in danger (whether that danger is real or perceived).
Often times, we see other people’s poor behavior and say, “Oh, I would have done it differently. I would have done such and such and I would have said so and so”. The truth is, we can speculate about what we might have said until we are blue in the face but until we are in a stressful situation, we will not know how we will react.
Last time we talked about the snake brain. Even though our brain has 3 parts, each with different functions, the primitive snake brain is far superior when we are stressed. It has two main functions: (1) food (yummy, yummy!) and (2) protecting us from danger with a fight or flight response. Meanwhile, the puppy brain stores information as emotions and uses them to navigate us. For example, on a conscious level, we would label all kinds of anger with the same five letters: a.n.g.e.r. The puppy brain is able to distinguish between “I was slightly angry”, “I was angry”, “I was very angry” and “I was soooooooo angry”. In the brain, the feeling is stored along with its intensity.
Whenever something happens to us, the puppy brain searches our emotion bank for similar feelings we experienced in the past. This helps it decide how to translate the new information.
In my last post, I Learned it From the Best we talked about how influential parenting is for a child’s future. In the long term, some things parents do are positive and some are negative. But which ones are positive? Which parenting styles are good for your children? In this post, I want to go into detail about the importance of consistency – the value of giving consistent rewards, punishments, attention and praise.
In early childhood, parenting in general gives children a toolkit of skills and beliefs they can take with them. It helps them deal with the challenges that life puts in their paths. If parents give their child positive, useful tools, then they are well equipped for the future. Things like praise and attention give confidence. On the other hand, parents who give their children bad habits and poor attitudes are setting them up for struggle. Addictive behaviors and poor eating habits are examples of unhelpful tools.
In the next chapters of The Art of Letting Go, I will present a list of attachments. Letting them go is guaranteed to make your life easier and happier. Each example will include some activities and I promise that paying attention and doing the exercises will produce results. Also, I will add some inspirational quotes about each kind of attachment. You can use these quotes to remind yourself it is best to get these attachments out of your system, because they only bring disappointment, sadness and grief. So acknowledge them and let them go!
Fear is a belief that something will turn out badly in the future. When people are afraid, they go in their mind to the future and imagine a negative outcome. Many people are attached to their beliefs because they think that being afraid of something will reduce the chances of it happening or even guarantee it will not happen. In a sense, they are trying to control the future. In fact, nobody can do that. We were not born fortunetellers and maybe for a reason. There is no need to try and do it in our mind, so just let go of the desire to do it.
Being afraid is only natural. We have instincts that trigger fear to protect us from danger. Unfortunately, while those instincts were meant to protect us from threats to our survival, many of us today consider discomfort and stress as dangerous enough to trigger a “fight or flight” response. When we are afraid, we react as if we are in danger and our reaction is not proportional. After all, we will not die if things do not turn out the way we want them to or when someone is not happy with what we are doing.
Helicopter Parenting is a term used to describe parents who “hover” over their kids and try to control their kids’ choices regarding friends, education, schooling, hobbies career and even partners. The original intention behind the helicopter parenting style is to protect children and to help them get the most out of life by directing them towards what the parents think is right for the child.
Helicopter parenting comes with much love and care for the children, but there is always the risk the parents may become obsessive and create a dependent and helpless attitude in the children by not giving them the opportunities to experience, learn and evolve using their own judgment.
The greatest risk of using this parenting method is that of the parents adopting a form of perfectionism that sends a message to the child that Mom or Dad’s way of doing things is the only right way. Rather than creating a feeling of safety, love and appreciation for the child, perfectionism creates a feeling of inadequacy and fear. In simple words:
Anxious parents raise anxious kids
A new study showed that an over-involved or overprotective parenting style, often referred to as “helicopter mothers”, increases the risk for later anxiety in children. The study, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University, followed 200 children, aged 3-4 years old, and again 5 years after, at the age of 8-9. It also contains observed interactions between mothers and children, as well as mothers’ responses to statements like “I determine whom my child will play with” and “I dress my child even if he/she can do it alone”.
Creativity and self-expression are wonderful ways to recover from an eating disorder. Not eating and overeating are ways to control your life. Creativity happens when there is full control and can even be a form of meditation.
When I was young, I had many throat infections. My mom’s solution was always to take me to the doctor and give me antibiotics. This was a major part of my life for about 10 years. I took antibiotics about 6 months every year as a kid. It freaks me out to think about it now. When I grew up and learned more about the connection between physical problems and emotional states, I discovered that my throat infections could have been a result of being unable to express myself. Funnily enough, when I started writing at the age of 14, they disappeared.
I also learned that self-expression can be a cure, so since then, whenever my throat starts playing up and I have that familiar dry tingle threatening to flare, I sing! I turn the music on at full volume, or do it in the car, and sing! It does magic. One day and the infection is gone.
Using art for self-expression is a wonderful way to regain control over your life. You are on your own, creating what is in your mind. No criticism, no expected outcomes, just you and your creative flow, so you can feel how your body obeys your commands.
In any creative form, there is a sense of freedom that anorexic people desperately need. They have the freedom to try new things, the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom to express themselves, the freedom from rules and boundaries – basically, the freedom to be themselves.
Also, immersing ourselves in creative art can work as a great distraction from thinking about the emotional challenges that take over otherwise. Anorexic people continually think about their “distorted body”, about food and about their problems. Keeping busy and doing something creative is like putting a sign on the door saying “time out” from thinking and hopefully those thoughts will never come back.
People are different and find different forms of self-expression, but all of them are wonderful and can help in healing and recovering from anorexia or other eating disorders.
Anorexia is a very debilitating disease. While it looks like there is a physical problem, the real problem is the one we cannot see with our eyes but the one we can see with our heart. As hard as it is to accept, choosing not to eat is a way to deal with difficult emotions.
Most eating disorders are the same. Eating (too much) or not eating (at all) is the solution to worry, to fear, to shame, to confusion, to failure and to guilt, and gradually, the simplest strategy seems to be to shut down the desire for food.
I do not know if you have ever fasted for fun, for health or for weight loss. There is a point when you no longer feel hungry at all. I think it is important for people to feel this point to understand that we can eat or not eat at will. To survive, we really do not need much food, so someone who chooses not to eat, really does not feel hungry, but still has those emotions that he or she tries to keep away. If you want to help a person who has anorexia, remember that focusing on the food is (again) working on the symptom and not the problem.
The best solution to anorexia is increasing the emotional intelligence. The first step is to recognize the feelings and the second step is to manage the feelings.
Today, I will focus on tips to mange worrying.
I have clients who are perfectionists and they know they are perfectionists. They have been to some form of counseling or have seen psychologists and they claim that things have become worse since they discovered their perfectionism. The label “Perfectionist” has allowed them to justify their behavior and that has increased the friction in their relationships even more.
Most of them came for life coaching when they reached rock bottom in their relationship due to their high demands when their wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, friends, work colleagues or even boss said, “Get lost!” and kicked them out of the relationship or left them.
In the previous post on perfectionism, I wrote about ways to assess whether you or your children are perfectionists. In this chapter, I will give you some tips to help perfectionists. If you want to use them to help a child, remember that your goal is to plant those thoughts into your child’s mind or create circumstances that will help them overcome the fear that is associated with things not happening exactly the way they want them to.
I hope these tips will help you help your perfectionist child and if you need the help yourself, translate them into adult vocabulary and your own circumstances and make perfectionism a period in your life, not a lifestyle.
As a life coach promoting happiness, I find myself talking a lot about perfectionism as an obstacle on the way to a happy life. After researching the science of happiness and seeing thousands of clients, including many parents and children, I can tell you that happiness and perfectionism cannot live in the same body. They are like the good and the bad wolves living in your body and when you feed one, the other one starves.
The problem with perfectionism is not only that perfectionists are not happy but also that those who are close to them are not happy either because of it.
Many grownup perfectionists started out as perfectionist kids. In my kids’ assessments, I can tell if a child has a tendency towards perfectionism from age 3. Most people believe this cannot be helped. Some kids are born perfectionists and that is that, but I think this attitude makes our life much harder, because repeating this mantra guarantees there is nothing we can do about it.
Much like any other “disease”, perfectionism can be cured and the best time to do it is during early childhood, before the child develops strong behavior patterns that are hard to change.
I also believe that the best people to cure child perfectionism are parents, because their love for their child will help them overcome the resistance.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”
- Albert Einstein
Happiness depends a lot on which side of the brain we use. If you feel under pressure, your brain is telling you that you have been using your left brain to its maximum capacity.
85% of the time, we function using our left brain. We make sense of things, think of sequences, analyze language and meaning, interpret information and communication and absorb new facts from all around us. Although these functions are necessary to our life, the left side of our brain has its limits and uses pressure to signal that we need to let go and switch to using our right brain.
The left hemisphere of our brain functions like a sequential receiver and processor, while the right hemisphere is in charge of our imagination, sleep (dreams), memory, intuition and all of our creative functions. We absorb with the left side and create with our right side. The brain is like battery – the right side charges it and the left side uses the energy and empties it. Our goal is always keep our mental battery charged.
In our fast-moving world with way too much information, our brain reaches this point of pressure very often. This is when the brain pushes the “red alert” button and says “Enough! No more information. No more analyzing. No more thinking and no more talking!” If we ignore this signal, the sounds of the red alert and danger increase until we collapse or fall asleep from exhaustion.