The Toxic Tempest of Solo Worry

Shame

Do you worry alone?  Or do you share your worry with others?  Does it matter?  Apparently it does.  I recently heard Ned Hallowell speak about this topic and, as he described the pitfalls of solo worry, it gave me a bit of a personal epiphany I want to share.  Hallowell, an MD, is a leading authority on ADD and ADHD  and he is the Director of the Hallowell Centers in NYC and Sudbury, Massachusetts.  With eleven books to his credit, including Driven to Distraction (1994)  and Delivered from Distraction (2005) Hallowell certainly knows his way around the distracted mind.  However, it was advice he gave on the topic of worry that piqued my curiosity.  “Never worry alone.” Hallowell warned.   Since this is the opposite of what i do – I always worry alone – it really grabbed my attention.

Hallowell went on to add that when we worry alone, worry becomes toxic, we omit the facts, withdraw and isolate ourselves.   Worrying alone is what I do.  In fact, I go to great measures to pretend that everything is going be alright even when I really believe it is not.  I fake it.  I pretend.  I spend money I don’t have.  When I worry in silence, I slap a smile on it, maybe I become a bit sullen or snippy at times, but I do not trouble others with my worry.   What’s your worry strategy?   Can you relate to my terribly toxic strategy of independent struggle or do you have worry support in place?

Hallowell went on to say that those of us who worry alone miss out on the problem solving aspect of having a worry partner.  I would like to add, that when we worry alone, we fail to process the dilemma, the pain, the heartbreak, the fear, and thus may become stuck in the trauma of it.   Additionally, we abstain from the compassion others might provide us when we need it most.   I can absolutely attest to solo worry’s toxic powers, but until I heard Ned Hallowell speak, I simply hadn’t put it all together.

Worrying alone is dangerous, bad for your mental health and can lead to a host of bad things.  Get a therapist, get a worry partner, get a coach, get someone, but don’t go it alone.    The toxic tempest of solo worry is to be avoided at all cost lest this psychological storm wreak havoc in your life.  Don’t worry.  At least not alone.

Diane

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The Exponential Potential of Shame.

Shame

Shame, is a topic almost no one wants to speak about – they are simply too ashamed. First, we are ashamed of something.  Then we feel shame for being ashamed.  It is the exponential factor of this most wretched of emotions.  It is an isolating and miserable experience. 

The distinction between shame and guilt is this:  We feel guilty for things we have done; We feel shame for what we are.  Shame is pervasive and all encompassing.  It demoralizes and humiliates us to a barely breathing raw pulp. Shame is merciless as it tears at the very fabric of our being.  Shame is a place we dwell and pray that no one ever notices us again.  Shame results in a desire to be and stay invisible, unnoticed and unworthy of being noticed.

Have you ever fallen down?  Has it caused you so much shame that every decision you make subsequent to the fall is shame-based and thus contaminated?  Have you felt the G forces that suck you into a vortex of debilitating, life-ruining, downward-spiraling shame?  Each layer of the spiral seems to etch deeply into your soul creating what feels like permanent threads of hopelessness.  Shame sucks.

We all experience shame, but most of the time we are too ashamed to admit that we are ashamed.   Worse yet, the shame of being ashamed is a double whammy.  Thus, we encounter the exponential potential of shame that makes it toxic to human beings.

Many people feel no shame; others feel shame for those people.  It is an odd thing that when we feel ashamed we often turn to blaming someone or something else.  It relieves us of the burden of shame by projecting it onto others. They are two sides of the same coin – shame and blame.

If we are blaming, we are trying to shift our shame.  I call it “shame shifting.” We relieve ourselves of a highly negative emotion by denying and disassociating it from ourselves and by placing it on someone else.  When we blame others, our finger of blame points outward; four fingers of shame point back at us.

Highly sensitive people are the most vulnerable to this shift.  Someone does them wrong and then energetically shifts the shame on to them through blame.  It is easy to do, HSPs are empaths and, by definition, are emotional sponges.  They often carry the burden of others people’s shame and guilt along with their own.  They are emotional pack mules. 

I have gotten lost and I am ashamed of it.  I tried to pivot my career and became lost in a whirlwind of fears that arise when you step out on your own.  A tempest of survival fears – the very basic, hard-wired fears of the human organism.  I stood on the diving board too long, made too many excuses, and chased too many shiny balls because I was afraid.   I knew what I wanted, but wondered if I might be wrong. if I might not be good enough.  Such is the power of shame; it cripples self-trust and induces self-doubt, which in turn reinforces shame.   In short, things did not go as planned, but went, as I feared – funny how that works.  At least I have learned a lot.

Shame researchers Jane Middleton-Moz and Brene Brown have both delved into the subject of shame deeply.  If you would like to read more about shame, please check out there great work on the subject. 

What is your experience with shame?  Where does it cause you the most harm?  There is an antidote. 

To discuss shame without shame, simply reply here.

 

4 Types of Survival Patterns

Okay, I am cheating a bit with this post, but because it hits home on so many levels for many of us, I thought it was important to post.  Read the content that follows and see if you can identify your survival pattern, your go to safe strategy.  Except, there is a trick to it – these patterns don’t actually work long-term and may make your anxiety worse.

In case your wondering, I am the AVOIDER.  I have used the others on occasion too.

The following content is a direct quote from Dr. Friedemann Schaub, M.D. author of The Fear and Anxiety Solution a book I highly recommend.  I have spoken before to Dr. Schaub and he is a very kind and humble man.  His work is worth checking out at http://www.cellularwisdom.com

“When was the last time that fear and anxiety made you feel vulnerable, unsafe and out of control? Being anxious can feel so intense and overwhelming, that all you want is to suppress or get rid of it. But how do you that? Chances are that neither your parents nor your teachers in school showed you how to deal with anxiety. And like most of us, you had to figure out on your own, how to respond to being anxious or insecure. The problem is that you may have become so good in managing your anxiety, that you don’t even realize that you’re just surviving every day, rather than finding joy and purpose in your life.

There are 4 major survival patterns, through which most people try to consciously and subconsciously control their fears and anxieties. If you are finding yourself using one or several of these survival patterns on a daily basis, you know you have an anxiety problem.

 The Avoider

If you are an avoider, you are probably very sensitive to criticism, rejection and failure. You try to escape potential hurt through making yourself smaller or even invisible. You hide in a small and controllable comfort zone and preemptively loath and criticize yourself, before anyone else can do this to you. Outside of your refuge, you vigilantly scan your surroundings for any signs of judgment or danger. As an avoider you deny yourself any sense of empowerment, because in your mind feeling confident and positive only increases the risk of getting hurt.

The Pleaser

As a pleaser you believe that your best chances to avoid painful rejection or abandonment, is to make sure that everyone is “ok” with you. You may be the care-taker, who feels overly responsible for others; the chameleon, who is able to fit in everywhere; or the jokester, who tries to win people over through being the life of the party. In pleasing mode you try to manage your anxiety by not being alone, which is why your sense of safety and worthiness depends on the approval of others.

The Controller

If you have the constant need to control every aspect

of your life, you may not realize that all you are doing is to manage your fear of being powerlessness. You may even take on the role of being the authority and strictly enforce your ideas and rules through anger, threats and punishment, just to avoid feeling exposed and unsafe. By controlling others through instilling a sense of insecurity and powerlessness, you feel more empowered and secure. However, underneath this dominating behavior often reside profound feelings of inferiority, vulnerability and pain, which stem from traumas and confusion from your childhood.

 The Achiever

Are you known as a go-getter, who always exceeds everyone’s expectations? Do you continue to strive for the next achievement, never taking the time to enjoy the one you just reached? Or maybe you call yourself a perfectionist, who can’t accept mediocrity. As an (“over-“) achiever, failure and second-place aren’t an option, because your identity and worthiness are defined by your successes. However, although this form of drive and competitiveness may have got you far, deep inside it is still the deep-seated fear of not being good enough, which keeps you running and striving.

All of these survival patterns have one thing in common: they don’t lead to a true sense of inner peace and happiness. As you become more and more dependent on these strategies to cope with your anxiety and insecurity, you drain your energy and power, which only increases the likelihood of feeling stressed and anxious. Because no matter how many people you have avoided or kept successfully at arm’s length; and no matter how many you have “wowed,” made happy or controlled – in the end you may still end up feeling powerless, because you have been defining yourself through circumstances and people around you, and thus making them more important than yourself.”

See yourself here?  What style do you lean on to manage your fears?  Come on, it can’t only be me 🙂

The Invisible Fence.

After today, I am going to break from discussing shame – it is a very large topic and one we will revisit many times. The reason that I feel we must keep chipping away at shame is that shame is “A Master of Disguise”. Shame has the ability to create limits that are actually lies as it covers its own stealthy tracks. More importantly, Shame like fear, anxiety and other affiliated emotions are self-sealing. That is that they engage in behavior that reinforces and seals the belief inside where it grows unchallenged. It seems that even our feelings like power and will run rampant when we do not challenge them. Logic is often used by such feelings to justify keeping them in place. “I would feel good about myself if only ______.”

Shame, fear and anxiety are deceptive to us at times. They are protective in nature, but can grow to be more punishing than the original intention – they take on a life of their own and begin limiting our behavior creating an invisible fence in our minds. Much like those cruel shock collars, shame, fear and anxiety take on the same methodology – when we get too close to an imagined boundary, we get zapped! Some people suffer shame attacks, others anxiety attacks and still others over-reactive fear responses that are grossly out of proportion to the stimulus.

Why do I write about these emotions and limits? Because like all humans, I have had my share of afflictions and I believe that we must use the latest knowledge and tools to hack out way out of the limits that impose smallness and limited lives upon us. Each and everyone of us has a right to be here and to grow in the direction we choose. To do that requires removing a lot of invisible fences.

Much of the time you will not see your invisible fence for what it is, you will need help. That help can come in the form of a friend, a support group, a great coach, a good therapist. The point is you must know it is there in order to challenge and remove it. Sometimes, you will just have to jump the fence take the shock and realize it did not kill you, then do it over and over again – a process of systematic desensitization.