I work with people who just can’t stop worrying. They tell me about the awful panic attacks they have, which can feel devastating. Many show up in the emergency room, only to be told there is nothing wrong. Being stuck in the panic loop stinks, but you can learn how to manage it so it doesn’t take over your life. The body doesn’t lie; when it shouts, you have to listen—but maybe in a whole new way.
Managing intense emotions is tough. And if you live with someone that constantly worries about everything, and constantly seeks reassurance, you may wonder “How do you help a reassurance junkie?” You know what it is like to experience their anxiety.
Worry as a way to problem solve feels useful. Big hint: It isn’t. How to stop worrying becomes more doable when you think of it as spam. The worry thoughts pop instantly into your inbox, aka brain, with catchy titles and tantalizing “solutions.” Of course you supply those solutions, which allows a new email to pop up! Yay! Another problem to “solve” and you’re off to the races. It actually could be conceived as looking like a zig zag pattern in your mind. You go up with a problem, down with a “solution” so it feels like you are accomplishing something with the “action” of worry. And that zig zag can be infinite.
Is it narcissism or confabulation? It can be a difficult to tell these two apart as distinguishing sarcasm and “humorously delivered” criticism. Is a person deliberately lying when they confabulate? Here’s a quick definition of confabulate.
In the formal version, confabulate means to talk, with roots found in the words ‘fable’ and ‘fabulous.’ In the world of psychiatry, it means to fabricate imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory. This is common in alcohol induced dementias aka Korsakoff syndrome (a type of dementia often associated with alcohol abuse), but it also has been observed in cases of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.
I thought that today would be a good one to round up a few simple facts about feelings, so here goes. This image is a feelings wheel that can expand your emotional vocabulary. The purpose of feelings and emotions is to get you to act. However, sometimes we don’t choose the best course of action.
What Is Your Inner Critic And Where Did It Come From?
To answer that, here is a story for you. Read more
Word. This is the number one anxiety related sleep issue I hear about: “I wake up and can’t get back to sleep.” That is closely followed by: “I can’t get my monkey mind to stop at night when I am trying to get to sleep.” I am going to help you with both issues. It’s up to you to actually implement the help. Horses, water, drink…well you know the drill.
First we are going to get the blah, blah, blah, sleep hygiene talk out of the way. You have heard it all before, BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT, duh. If you can’t get these principles under wraps, you may as well stop here, even if I am going to give you some mostly secret knowledge later on.
The Speed Of Want is a chapter title I read in the recent (great) book by therapist Lori Gottlieb Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019). In it she alludes to what I think of as the human evolutionary trait of finding faster, easier ways to the goal, with none or less of the hard work necessary to accomplish it. Witness the recent college admissions cheating scandal. In modern times, think of the changes that have occurred simply between the start of the industrial age and the present that have impacted our lives with mass production, instant worldwide communication, and outsourced labor due to advanced robotics alone.
But there are unintended consequences to this ‘need for speed.’
First, why do we blush? The feeling accompanied by blushing is an exquisite sensitivity to the feeling of embarrassment. Embarrassment is often tied to shame. Blushing is an automatic, uncontrollable response to these feelings. It happens in humans because our facial veins react to this adrenaline. So when the limbic system is triggered, the blood rushes to the face causing the redness to appear. There is a lot of basic (scientific) info on this reaction here, here and here if you are interested.
But what you really want to know is how to control blushing. Right?
A concerned mother wrote and asked me for suggestions for her son who was in his first semester at college in a different state. She was feeling helpless from afar, and wanted to know how to advise him about his long-standing social anxiety and depression, which had flared in his new environment. This is what I told her.
Dear Worried Mom,
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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