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.
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,
What better time than the start of a new year to make change that can positively affect the rest of your life? Let’s assume you have made that brave decision, and talk therapy is part of your plan. What do you expect when you are expecting talk therapy? If you want to know how I do it, read on.
People that have never experienced talk therapy often feel a tad apprehensive about getting started. There are lots of reasons. Some wonder if it will do any good at all, and others have the odd fear they won’t be able to ‘do it right.’ Some people simply don’t know how it proceeds or what is expected of them, and they are anxious about that. Still others believe they will receive all the instructions from the therapist about how to change and be on their way—with no real understanding of the courage, persistence, and work that real change takes. And some believe a pill is the answer.
I don’t actually place too much stock in New Year’s resolutions. In the past when I have, they are usually too big or not sustainable, and by January 31, I’m like meh. This sucks and I don’t want to do it any more. So then I let the unmet goals go until the angst over not getting enough exercise or being unable to wear the clothes that are two sizes past creep up and make me feel defeated again. This is the hamster wheel of my own anxiety spinning around in my head. It can turn into a bad case of the “What ifs” if I don’t follow my own advice. You know, doctor, heal thyself. So I make sure set goals I can achieve, I get competent help, and I pay attention to self care. All of that allows me to do what I do best, which is to help you tame your anxiety. But if you are feeling a little shy about seeking help, or unsure of what to expect in therapy, please let me demystify it for you. Read more
People who know me understand how I define anxiety. One version is rumination. This is when you are focused on the past, on memories about something that occurred. Perhaps it was a conversation that went wrong, or you are worried about someone’s opinion of you in those circumstances. Or it is this…
You’ve got mail! Yes, but it is really mail or is it spam? Let’s think about how you evaluate that for a minute.
Did you know there is a difference between being alone and loneliness? Lots of people enjoy being alone and even need alone time to recharge their batteries. They don’t feel alone when they are by themselves engaged in an activity, from simply ‘being’ to being deeply engrossed in a hobby or pastime. They likely get into a kind of pleasant flow that makes the passage of time seem impossibly fast. The difference is that loneliness is a feeling, one of perception. You can feel lonely inside of a marriage or partnership, and you can feel lonely when surrounded by friends and acquaintances.
Have you ever found yourself so wound up you simply cannot untangle what it is that is bothering you the most? Entangled thoughts make you feel like you can’t think clearly because you have an inner dialogue going on that you have created about some aggressive, relationship-ruining, sexual, logic-defying, bewildering, even violent content running through your mind. You may experience a healthy dose of guilt and shame alongside that content, because you wonder how on earth you can be a good or sane person and think this way.
When I think about shame triggers and how they bloom, I am immediately taken back to a story of myself in the sixth grade. This was when elementary school went from 1st-6th grade; formal kindergarten was not yet in existence.
Or is your anger somewhere on this continuum? I want to challenge the belief that anger is harmful. Read more
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
Free parking at office