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Anxiety Counseling, Depression and Self-Talk

anxiety counseling

Anxiety counseling and stories we tell ourselves

Stories are the fabric of reality. They permeate our very existence. We crave stories on a daily basis. Stories told in our conversations, the books we read, and the movies we watch. Stories form the myths of all civilizations and reveal something about the psychology and worldview of a people. We too tell ourselves stories. These stories flow up from the roots of our being based on our culture and background, our life experiences, and our joys and fears. They color our perceptions of every experience we have. They reveal an inner dialogue that we may not be consciously aware of. Waking up and listening to the stories we tell ourselves can help us better navigate the ups and downs of life and provide more choices in how we respond. When we look to resolving negative emotions through various forms of anxiety counseling, we can consider these stories and how they might be affecting our lives and moods.

What are these stories?

Using a simple scenario, let’s say you are dating someone. Your partner decides to end the relationship. You feel devastated and begin to question everything about yourself. You may say “I’m not pretty or handsome enough” or “I’ll never meet someone like him/her.” You may even say “I’m not good enough and s/he wanted someone better.” Imagine the impact that has on an already hurtful (in most cases) situation. The event is the breakup and the story drives how we respond to it. In this case it would most probably increase the period of depression and recovery. Our stories are often told in the negative and filter down to an idea of lack. In other words, we question our worthiness and often believe, though unaware, that we are not good enough. These stories may actually have nothing to do with the scenario that occurred.

Why do we tell ourselves these stories?

Our underlying story comes from our life experiences, the impact they have had on us, and our own insecurities that are the result. The story is automatic and runs on continuous play unless we intervene. It has been blown out of proportion as social media has taken hold and we see the lives of others on display at every turn. We compare ourselves to those who we believe to be more successful, better looking, more popular, and seeming to live life to the fullest. The comparison enhances the story in a “see I told you so” tale. The problem is that we see only what they want us to see. We are more likely to display our life when things are going well and keep private the struggles we face. So our stories of not being good enough, of lacking, continue to unfold and further damage our self-esteem. In short, they are unnecessarily self-defeating. These stories project themselves to the past as we judge ourselves for things we did or did not do which can lead to depression. They also flow out into the future as we create a narrative of worst case scenarios and failure which increase anxiety. From the “I’m not good enough” root we come up with “I can’t”. Sometimes “I can’t” is a healthy statement when setting boundaries, but not when it comes from a self-limiting form of thinking. Believing our negative stories can certainly limit our choices.  Consider how you would react if a friend or family member told you that you are not worth it, not good enough, or stupid. I can only imagine! So why are we so keen on believing our own inner dialogue that most often is not reasonable, not helpful, not based on facts, and is unrealistic? We can see how this flow of negativity fosters depression, anxiety, shame, fear, and many other feelings.

Anxiety Counseling and Narrative Therapy – Changing the story!

Consider that we have an internal experience and an external (environmental) experience. Emotions, thoughts, and judgments are internal experiences and all that we do, see, hear, et cetera are the external. The external event is what it is. How we perceive it and how it impacts us is driven by our story or stories. Changing the story requires us to slow down and become aware of the internal dialogue that is subtly, or not so subtly, taking place. We listen for the words we are using to describe ourselves. It requires a vulnerability which can be an uncomfortable place. We like to move past that vulnerable place as quickly as possible. Vulnerability is a strength. In that space the inner story most often reveals itself and where our work takes place. It is a place of discovery. We need to know what we are working with in order to change it. So vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness. It means being open, in touch, and flexible with yourself. Some find journaling a great conduit to help reveal the story. We can then start asking ourselves important questions about the story. Is it relevant? Is it helpful? What proof do I have that substantiates it? What are other, more empowering, stories that are available to me? There are many available perspectives on any given situation. So I ask, is the one you are using to describe yourself and the world a hindrance, increasing depression and anxiety, or is it a useful tool moving you toward a healthier, more dynamic idea of who you are?

We are the authors of our lives. We write the prose of our relation to self and the world. The words you choose have great significance on how we live and operate in the world. We co-create our reality in each moment. Challenges arise and our story shapes whether they are a barrier or an opportunity. It affects whether we remain a victim or empowered. It influences our ability to move forward with optimism. Narrative therapy is a method of changing these stories. The Boca Raton therapists at Morgan Center offer anxiety counseling.

Anxiety counseling with the Boca Raton therapists at Morgan Center for Counseling and Wellbeing are available to help you increase self-awareness and manage underlying self-talk that may increase and prolong depression and anxiety. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression consider contacting the therapists at Morgan Center for Counseling and Wellbeing.

Anxiety Counseling

Hope for Fear and Anxiety

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” – Pema Chodron

Life never stands still. It is a river of moments flowing in time. It twists and turns seeming to hide what is just around the next bend. It dries up, becoming monotonous, and the floods with unexpected storms. Its highs and lows create a constant flux that can energize and motivate, empower and enrich, or far too often, confuse and frustrate.
anxiety counseling
The issues and challenges we face are not when we feel energized by life and things are going as expected, but during periods of transition and turmoil. Whether a breakup, loss of job or loved one, illness, retirement, major move, or any other innumerable detours that life can take, we are sometimes unprepared to face the problem at hand. This can result in fear and anxiety. The good news is that there is help.

Depending on our past experiences and coping abilities to deal with difficulties, we may handle the unexpected with ease or find ourselves crippled emotionally and feeling inadequate and groundless. We don’t have to be impeded by fear and fall into the traps of anxiety and depression. We can draw strength and face adversity in the midst of troubling emotions. Here are a few that may be helpful:

  • Get in touch with your feelings and see if they are appropriate to the situation. Identify and acknowledge what you are feeling.
  • Recognize and challenge negative and biased thinking (I can’t handle it, I’m a failure, I’m no good, I can’t do it, etc.) and challenge it. We do not want to feed the internal monster of fear, anxiety, or depression that prevents us from thinking and acting clearly.
  • Change the storyline. We too often create stories that are disempowering and biased. Say “no!” Begin empowering yourself with a more truthful narrative.
  • Focus on what you can control. Let what is out of your control go. You will make more progress identifying and attending to your own behaviors and reactions.
  • When possible, recall how you handled difficult situations in the past and write down the steps you took to resolve it successfully.
  • Think about the desired outcome and your values. What is important to you?
  • Make a plan with realistic goals and commit to action despite distressful feelings like fear, anxiety, and depression.
  • Be kind and gently with yourself, not hard and critical. Engage in self-care that nourishes and strengthens.
  • Seek guidance when needed. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

You can increase your ability to manage distressful emotions and better cope with life’s twists and turns, even the flooding of an unexpected storm that causes anxiety. We are strong and resourceful and far more capable that we give ourselves credit for.

Contact the Boca Raton therapists at Morgan Center for Counseling and Wellbeing at (561) 366-2476 for more information or need help. We offer anxiety counseling and other forms of therapy.