Every Sunday morning, I do a weekly reading on my Periscope channel. We interactively read through a book, and discuss how we can relate it to our lives. These are of course books to help us in everyday life, whether we are an abuse survivor or not.
I thought I might take this column here that Don has so graciously given me on his blog, and start a monthly series on a topic that millions of us struggle with. Anxiety!
Just the thought of Anxiety can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, send shivers down your spine, and pretty much make us as uncomfortable as possible. Which is precisely what Anxiety lives for, making us uncomfortable and being stuck.
Let’s chat for a bit about Black and White thinking, or in other words, thinking in extremes. Is anxiety impacting how you think?
Anxiety loves it when we live in these extreme thoughts. Everything is either completely one way or completely the other way. This is just the type of mindset that promotes self-shame, and keeps us from loving ourselves, and embracing all the good that we are.
Healing happens in the gray area...
There’s a concept that is important to embrace as abuse survivors, “healing happens in the scary middle”, the gray area. That’s where loving ourselves happens too. That middle or gray area where we accept ourselves, flaws and all, and stop trying to figure everything and everybody else, out.
- Stop beating ourselves up because we didn’t get that promotion.
- Stop thinking that we are doomed to a life of solitude and misery because we went through a divorce.
- Don’t beat ourselves up because somebody was rude to us, and it must be our fault. We must have done something wrong.
- If our children make a poor decision as a teenager, it doesn’t mean that we are a terrible parent.
I’m sure you can think of countless situations in life, recent or past, where you blamed yourself for something that wasn’t your fault. That extreme thinking of, “there’s no logical explanation other than I must have done something wrong”, is unbelievably toxic to our self-esteem.
Anxiety loves this, because Anxiety itself is toxic. It uses every trick in the book to make us feel like we have to be at fault, we are broken, we make all the wrong decisions, we are unlovable, etc. Then it feeds on that and just keeps growing and growing until we finally say, enough is enough.
There’s a thousand and one reasons why people are the way that they are, and every day circumstances can change how we react to a given situation. Life is fluid, it’s always changing. Think of this example:
Your coworker, who is normally easy going, talkative, friendly, and helpful suddenly snaps at you out of the blue. You’ve never known them to act this way, but for some reason today they jumped down your throat when you came to ask them a work-related question.
Many times, our default reaction is, “well I must have done something to them”. Then we start to worry about what we did, why we did it, and how we can fix it…and we don’t even know what “it” is, but it must our fault.
Anxiety is just loving life at that moment, because we spend the rest of the day questioning ourselves and beating ourselves up for something we can’t control.
Once again, there are countless reasons why your co-worker snapped and very few, if any, have anything to do with you. Yet we are so used to blaming ourselves, that it’s just a default response.
Living in extremes, thinking we must be to blame and that we are always the reason for someone’s else’s actions is so self-defeating and just continues to give Anxiety power.
If there’s one lesson that can be very hard to learn, but so yet so important, is that we can’t control anyone else’s actions. You’ll never be at peace by trying to please someone else or fix something. Nor will you be at peace in trying to figure out someone else’s intentions.
All you end up doing is blaming yourself, shaming yourself, and living in the extreme world of you being all wrong, all the time.
That my friends, is no way to live.
I encourage you, to step back, look at a situation from a high level, rational mind point of view. Doing that gives you perspective on what is really going on, not what Anxiety tries to make you think is going on.
If you would like to join Matt on this chat, just watch for his announcement around 10:30am on Sunday mornings. @SurvivingMyPast
To learn more about him and see all his other articles, go to Matt's Page, Survive, Thrive And Conquer.
Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Don Shetterly and Matt
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