anxiety

For Those Who Don't Celebrate Mother's Day

Dear brave soul,

You feel the mixture of sadness, anger, guilt, and dread that comes this time of year. It starts with the ads: flowers, brunches, treats, and presents. The pressure is on with so many ways to cherish your mother.  Someone asks you about your plans with your mother for Mother’s Day. It feels awkward and embarrassing to share that you’re not doing anything with your mother. The shame starts to swirl within you. You wonder if there is something wrong with you for not talking to your Mom. You start to feel the impending day quickly approach. A day where everyone is busy and you’re stuck wondering what to do with yourself. You’re stuck oscillating between wondering if you’re really the one to blame for not having this relationship, or if this is how you can stay safe and sane.

Many others don’t understand the pain that you have experienced in the decision to not have your mother in your life. For you, it is a choice of safety and survival, and not one of spite. Your mother may have been painfully cruel and abusive, and remaining in contact with her could cause psychological and even physical harm. Our “get over it” culture is toxic. You are not expected to sacrifice your feelings for others. It’s not your job to sooth other’s discomforts about your completely healthy decision. Anyone who is uncomfortable with your decision needs to look within and ask themselves why they would ignore your pain and suffering. Your energy should be focused on your healing and wellbeing.

If you are someone who does not spend Mother’s Day with your mother because you have made the decision to heal, you are doing the right thing. You are making the decision to do something your mother never did for you by showing yourself love. Setting the healthy emotional boundaries you need to honor yourself is an act of courage. Not many others will understand it, but this is an act of self-love. The universe bows to you, honoring your healing and your unique path. Keep walking that path and you will meet others who will walk with you. The longer you walk this path the more the pain will seem like a dream because you have woken up—woken up to the wonderful, tender, and compassionate person that you have always been but never noticed.

This Mother’s Day, take the opportunity to nurture yourself in the ways you have always needed. Make a list of ways you would like to practice loving yourself more. Maybe you decide to replace your criticizing self-talk with gentle encouragement. Maybe you cook yourself a delicious and healthy meal. Maybe you take a walk and notice the beauty of the world through your five senses. Loving and treasuring yourself is a practice, and in this practice you share this love and generosity with others (even if it isn’t immediately obvious). The universe has many ways of saying “I love you” if we can pause and take a moment to notice.

If you know someone who is no-contact with their mother…

If you have someone in your life who has chosen to not have a relationship with their mother—honor that. Validate that they are wise, dedicated to their truth, and doing the right thing. Not only do they have to deal with the recovery from abuse, but also recover from the societal stigma of excluding that person from their life. It is harmful to live in a culture that puts more value on self-sacrifice than self-love. This value causes depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship problems, substance abuse, and suicide. If their experience with their mother makes you uncomfortable, take a moment to be compassionate toward that discomfort—maybe this is a way you can get a glimpse into this person’s painful experience and respect it. 

 

If you have a painful relationship with your mother, therapy can be an opportunity to develop love toward yourself, feel positive, and gain confidence. To go from surviving to thriving call today for a free consultation at (248) 291-7322 or email me for therapy and counseling in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Free Yourself from Anxiety's Web

Most days you wake up feeling exhausted and on edge. Your overwhelming thoughts are causing you to be distracted and worried. You're really hard on yourself and feel defeated. It feels impossible to control your worry. Throughout your day, these feelings continue to escalate to agitation, sadness, and even panic. You feel tense and struggle with other health problems caused by anxiety. People in your life see your struggle, but they don’t know how to help you. You’re not interested in taking medication and you are wondering if there are natural ways to deal with your anxiety.

You can overcome anxiety. Our thoughts are just thoughts. They are not the truth or reality, and anxious thoughts are your brain’s way of avoiding danger or discomfort. The truth is, our anxious thoughts were used for tens-of-thousands of years to keep us safe. The same anxiety that taught us to run from a lion is the same anxiety that comes up in our modern world. Our society has progressed faster than our brains evolve. Our brains might treat our fear of social situations the same way our brain would treat outrunning a lion. Sometimes our brains are just not very helpful when dealing with modern anxieties. Your brain is a tool for problem solving and uses language to problem-solve. If we are having anxiety about going to a party our brain might tell us, “Maybe I should not go because I have anxiety about meeting new people,” or, “Everyone is going to notice I am _____________ (insert negative self-talk here).”

Not only are you the only one experiencing these thoughts, but you are also feeling them! Anxiety thoughts start to trigger your body’s stress response and can send you into fight-or-flight. Your body can experience anxiety on the spectrum of mild tension to full blown panic, which would be helpful if you saw a lion but is in no way helpful in going to this party. These anxious thoughts are now invading your body making you desperate for any sort of relief.

In our search for relief, all of our unhelpful coping strategies come into action. Here we might be wringing our hands, biting our nails, or canceling our plans. At this point we are just running on the hamster wheel of anxiety plagued by our untrue thoughts, stress response, and unhelpful coping skills. All of this because our brain was trying to problem-solve our discomfort!

The truth is we can’t control our anxious thoughts, and trying to avoid or fix them can make things worse. Humans often try to grasp onto perceived “good” experiences and avoid uncomfortable “bad” experiences. This black-and-white thinking causes suffering. If we want to overcome anxiety we can’t do so by avoiding it or desperately looking to feel good, we have to learn to accept it.

Learning to accept anxiety does not mean accepting the distress that it causes. When we learn to accept something we are no longer fighting with it in our habitual ways. Imagine if you were standing in quicksand and you were trying not to sink. The worst thing you could possible do is to start frantically moving trying to escape the quicksand. Anxiety can be viewed in exactly the same way. If we are in the quicksand of anxiety and we are avoiding it, fighting it, and grasping for safety we end up just sinking faster. So, how do we stop sinking? To survive quicksand we have to do the opposite of what we instinctively want to do, which is to stop moving and lay down. To overcome anxiety, we have to do the opposite of what it is telling us to do. We have to start thinking about our thoughts, feelings, and actions as part of the anxiety web we get caught in.

There is no magic pill for fixing anxiety because at times we do need it to stay safe. Anxiety has a job and can be helpful when we are able to manage it effectively. Walking alone to your car in the dark and feeling a little nervous? This is not a bad thing; in fact, it is just a thing our body does on its own. If we can tell ourselves, “I feel nervous walking to my car, but right here right now I am safe,” we can start to ground ourselves in reality and calm our anxiety. Instead of watering the seeds of anxiety we can teach our brain how we want to respond to anxiety.

Here are some helpful strategies for working with thoughts, feelings, and actions:

  1. Having an anxious thought? Label it a thought. If your anxious thought is, “Everyone at the party is going to think I’m awkward.” Try, “I am having a thought that everyone at this party is going to think I’m awkward.”
  2. Implement calming techniques that promote loving-kindness toward yourself. Focusing on our breath literally calms the fight-or-flight area of your brain, so doing some mindful breathing or a guided meditation can help calm your brain and body. If focusing on your breath doesn’t work for you, then get into one of your other 5 senses. Maybe you have a healing stone you like to rub or enjoy the sound of ocean waves. Focusing on one of our senses can help us focus on the present moment and be less caught up in our thoughts. If your thoughts distract you, just notice you are thinking and return to your concentration.
  3. Get moving! Movement can be an excellent way for eliminating anxiety in our bodies, and exercises like yoga and aerobic workouts have been shown to help reduce anxiety. Feeling creative? Maybe you’d rather pull out the journal, guitar, or paints as a mindful activity to work through anxiety. Anxiety might be present while we are doing an activity, but it does not need to control what you are doing.


Although these strategies can be incredibly helpful for managing anxiety, sometimes we need some extra help. If you feel like anxiety is uncontrollable, overwhelming, and causing distress in your life, you can overcome it. Sometimes we need extra help from a professional who specializes in conquering anxiety so you can feel confident in working through anxiety when it arises. When we have healthy coping skills and feel confident, acceptance of anxiety comes naturally and overtime becomes easier to manage. Those who see me for anxiety often feel at the end of their therapy that their mindset is different in how they approach their anxiety. In their lives anxiety is less intense and more manageable, and they feel positive about themselves and their future.   

If you are ready to start feeling confident about managing your anxiety, call me today for a free 15-minute consultation at 248-291-7322 or e-mail me.  

 

Overcoming Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Path to Resiliency

Overcoming Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Path to Resiliency

If you have experienced emotional neglect, therapy can be an opportunity to nurture yourself in ways that were not provided to you in childhood or in current relationships. You can develop a positive sense of self, confidence, and know you are worthy of love and belonging. Just because these skills were not given to you in adolescence does not mean that you cannot develop them in adulthood with the help of a trusted professional.