Ambition Answers

Do you have any advice for overcoming panic attacks?

Helpless but not hopeless I am going to attach a link to the bottom of this response that I will encompass a concept that you might find beneficial. What you are going through is a disconnect. Your body is experiencing something different than reality. Your body is saying something is wrong, but your mind knows it isn't. By your mind, I mean your conscious awareness of what is happening. Your subconscious, your body, is picking up information from your environment and telling you that something is dangerous. What is your environment telling you?  What is outside that you are fearing will happen? Ask your mind this and see what you come up with. Panic at the level you are referring to is often left ominous, and when we try to quantify exactly what is going on, we find that it breaks some of the facades of the fear. Panic is your response to something that you aren't even sure what it is, which is why it makes no sense to our logical mind. Panic attacks are often expressed to be feeling like dying or that you are having a heart attack. Often the way we try to beat this is to breathe and hope it passes.  In the link below, Dr. Stephen Hayes, the psychology professor who started a therapy model called ACT, talks about his own panic attacks. You'll notice towards the end of the TedTalk that he admits that panic still isn't explicitly defined, but he was triggered by a childhood memory and was now in charge of his life and that kid version of himself.  Again, what is going on when the panic attack comes on? Has there been any trauma or chaos in your life that this season, weather, or smell, can send you into this state of chaos itself, a fight or flight response that your conscious mind says doesn't understand. Your conscious mind is saying; we are safe; we are here, while the body says no, we are not. So then the conscious mind, which depends on signals from the subconscious body, tells you it is dangerous out there. You are in charge of how you approach this, but once you look panic in the eye, you realize it isn't real; it's lying to you.  Your panic is lying about the current moment, but it comes from a place that reminds you of something. Again, do the work in asking what is going on and what comes to my mind, and make panic tangible and measurable to disassemble his scary demeanor. Otherwise, you are left with "coping skills, " medications, and long periods of talk therapy sessions. Admit you have panic, do not fear or wish it away, and look at panic as it was meant to be, a warning system that has gone haywire but can be dealt with when you are willing to look at it.  https://youtube.com/watch?v=o79_gmO5ppg&si=EnSIkaIECMiOmarE  
(LCPC)
Answered on 01/01/2023

How can I feel better about myself or feel like I know my purpose?

Thank you for your question, and please know you are not alone in feeling the way you do. Having a purpose, and knowing that we are fulfilling our purpose, is very important, and often our sense of self is heavily influenced by this. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed can be just from being really busy with very little breaks, but it can also be a sign that it is a good time to take a look at life and really figure out if what we are doing right now matches where and what we want to be down the road. A change in direction is sometimes needed, and one way to determine if that is the best thing to do is to work with a therapist or someone with a similar role to help you evaluate your current path and explore the pros, cons, and where your interests and attention really fall in comparison to where you are spending your time, energy and sometimes money.  Change and redirection can look like all kinds of things depending on circumstances and resources or options available, so recognizing the big and little pictures can help us figure out where to start. For example, maybe there is a way to change up your daily or weekly schedule, or shift environments, and that is what makes the difference. I am just tossing this out as examples, and understand that it might not apply to your individual life. Having emotional support can also be very helpful during these types of times. If you have a strong support system, or a particular go-to person for when you talking things out would be helpful, it is OK to lean on them. However, sometimes that support just isn't there or maybe we aren't ready to share what we are struggling with just yet. That is where resources like BetterHelp can be beneficial. It is also important to stay in touch with how you are feeling, as hopelessness and anxiety could be indicators of something else going on besides your current situational/life stressors. Additionally, try to stay mindful about how you are coping and what your daily habits look like as you are coping with these feelings. If at any point you feel like you are not able to handle things, please call 988 for immediate help. This is like 911 for mental health emergencies.
Answered on 11/04/2022

I have severe anxiety, but why am I almost constantly full of jealousy or anger towards others?

First of all, having these moments of jealousy or frustration when you see others around you succeeding in areas that you would like to is completely normal. We all have those thoughts and because you are in your head and know your thoughts, it is easy to get very self-critical. Making the efforts to rejoice with your friends and be happy for them is good but I do think it is important to know this does take effort and is not always our first reaction. Especially since you are struggling with self-worth, you might find yourself comparing yourself to others and feeling threatened when you do not feel you are measuring up. However, we are often too hard on ourselves and need to exercise grace. Growing up, we are often told the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I like to take that and reverse it and say "Do unto yourself as you would do unto others." Often we are so self-critical and tear ourselves down when we would never do that to another individual. Would you look at a friend and tell them that they are "dumb" or "a loser"? If we would never say those things toward another person, why is it ok to say those things to ourselves? It's not. We have to try to challenge and redirect the way we talk to ourselves. As far as some tips for dealing with anxiety and getting out of your head -- Mindfulness techniques are helpful when dealing with overwhelming and intrusive thoughts. A great one is where you try to utilize all of your senses in order to ground you to your surroundings. It basically is counting 54321: What are 5 things that you can see? 4 things you can touch? 3 things you can hear? 2 things you can smell? 1 thing you can taste? Another technique is mindful breathing where you will try to focus on your breathing and push out any thoughts. When thoughts come you can acknowledge them and try to move your thoughts back to focusing on your breath. Also with anxiety, it is helpful for us to recognize our physiological response to it as this helps us to have a clue on how to calm our body. If you are feeling tense, try to relax. If you are breathing heavy or fast, try to slow your breathing (taking a sip of water helps this a lot actually). By calming our body's response to anxiety it can actually reduce our anxiety. Finally, acceptance helps to play a big part in reduction of anxiety. A lot of our worries about about things that are out of our control or unknown to us now. Trying to accept that there are things in our life that we cannot control and recognizing that it is what it is can help with reducing our anxiety and need to control certain things in our life that are beyond our control. 
(LPC)
Answered on 11/03/2022

How to deal with anxiety and intrusive thoughts relating to ADD (ADHD)

Hi Snail! Thank you very much for asking this valuable question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. Based on your question, I can tell that you are seeking out advice on how to manage symptoms of anxiety and ADHD as well as keep a healthy balance in your relationship. It is really good to see that you are reaching out for support on this important topic. Based on what you wrote in your initial question, I can tell that you have been feeling anxious and have been experiencing intrusive thoughts. How would you describe your overall symptoms of anxiety? How often do you feel anxious? Would you be willing to rate your anxiety on a Likert scale of 1 to 10 on a daily basis? It might be a good idea for you to complete the GAD-7, which is a standardized assessment for measuring anxiety. This will give you an idea as well as a base line for your symptoms of anxiety. In addition to keeping track of your anxiety symptoms and practicing self assessment skills regarding your experience of anxiety, I recommend trying some relaxation and mindfulness techniques. These methods include deep breathing, sensory grounding techniques, mindfulness meditation activities, and progressive muscle relaxation. From my perspective, mindfulness simply means being present in the moment and focusing on the here and now. If you need some assistance with getting started with utilizing these approaches, check out the myriad of handouts available on Therapist Aid. Also, would you be willing to keep track of your thoughts and feelings by participating in some therapeutic writing or drawing exercises? If you have not done so already, I recommend that you practice writing in a therapeutic journal. Utilize the feelings wheel as a means to connect to your emotional self and document those feelings. Through the process of journaling, you may be able to achieve some greater insight into your experience. Also, you may want to make steps towards identifying your areas of strengths as well as your areas on concern. After some time, you can certainly begin seeking out themes that come up in your writing. It may be helpful for you to create some therapeutic drawings about your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Start with creating a simple scribble drawing when you are having heightened moments of anxiety or stress. The spontaneous aspect of scribble drawings can be an awesome outlet for creative expression. This technique can foster a holistic, healing experience. Did you know that coloring within a circle can produce a sense of relaxation and even lower heart rate and blood pressure? Check out the free mandala outlines that are available online. You can print or purchase a mandala coloring book and draw within the circular format. Perhaps you may want to write your thoughts in the circle as a means to organize the intrusive thoughts that you have been having. Ultimately, it is completely up to you how you want to process and address your thoughts. It is a great thing that you feel like you are in an equal relationship with your partner at this time. What has that been like for the two of you to be in a loving relationship? It sounds like that despite the fact that you are in a loving relationship, you have thoughts that your partner might leave you. When did you begin having these thoughts? How long have you been feeling concerned that you may be emotionless? It appears you have the ability to be consciously aware of your thoughts and that you have been trying your best to rationalize your ways of thinking. I recommend checking out the Wise Mind concept, which is a dialectical behavioral therapy approach. This concept purports that there are three aspects to the mind: the rational, emotional and wise mind. The ideal of the wise mind is to combine the rational and emotional aspects and be intuitive. Do what you can to create a thought balance and combat each negative thought with a more positive one!It seems like it would be helpful for you to check in with your partner and tell your partner how you are feeling. I know that you mentioned that you are in a long distance relationship. Perhaps you may consider writing a letter to your partner or sending a greeting card with a hand written and personalized message. If you can coordinate a scheduled time to talk on a weekly basis, that could be great for both of you to continue to maintain a healthy relationship. I can tell that you are trying to navigate the challenges of having a long distance relationship, which is a really good sign.At this time, I recommend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. BetterHelp offers counseling appointments on the phone, through live chat or via video conferencing. You can also join a group or attend a groupinar. If things do not improve after some time, you could certainly connect with a therapist and your partner in a couples therapy session. Essentially, it is up to you to decide what will work best for you, your individual needs and your situation. Lastly, I want to touch base about the symptoms of ADHD that you have been having. It sounds like you believe some of the anxiety symptoms that you are having are related to ADHD. When were you diagnosed with ADHD? What treatment recommendations has your primary care provider made for you thus far? I can forward you the following information that may clarify your concerns about ADHD. I hope that information in these pdf documents will be useful to consider: http://downloads.pearsonclinical.com/videos/100317-BASC3/BASC-3-ADHD-Diagnosis-Evaluation-and-Treatment-of-ADHD-Webinar-Handout-100317.pdf http://images.pearsonclinical.com/images/assets/basc-3/basc3resources/DSM5_DiagnosticCriteria_ADHD.pdf Thank you again so much for asking this valuable question on the BetterHelp platform! I really admire your goal of trying to reassure yourself as well as maintain an equal and healthy relationship with your partner. I hope that my response will benefit you in some way. Take good care and have a nice day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 10/25/2022

How can I learn to deal with anxiety and motivation?

Thank you, Johnathan, for reaching out and asking this important question. Rest assured, you are not alone in your experience of increasing worry in a world that can sometimes feel unmanageable. When the environment in which you live feels overwhelming it can be difficult to find the motivation to change. Worry and anxiety can end up feeling like a trap or a deep hole where you are unable to find your way out of the darkness. Luckily there are techniques you can implement to help you move forward in unburdening your shoulders from the weight of constant worry and anxiety.  Although, the human brain's mechanism utilizes anxiety and worry for a purpose (basically to keep us from harm and aid us in navigating situations by solving problems and making plans) in the event that the mechanism becomes overstimulated, the brain becomes caught in a worry loop that is difficult to interrupt. You may become frozen in this state not knowing how to move forward to motivate yourself to make change. This worry loop can also keep you in a state of trying to solve problems or create change where you know, for a fact, no change will ever come to fruition despite your best efforts.  The author Alex Korb Phd, in his book The Upward Spiral, explains that worrying worsens your mood; when your mood is worsened your worrying increases which leads to even more negativity in your mood and so on. This experience becomes a vicious cycle. Hence why you are finding it difficult to motivate movement and create change.  All that being said, you can implement some daily tools to help interrupt the vicious cycle and the downward spiral. Recognizing the things or situations you can and do control will help you begin changing this never-ending cycle of worry, hyper-anxiety and feeling frozen. Start by paying attention to the choices you are making in your daily life. When you awaken, what side of the bed are you choosing to get out of, what clothes are you choosing to wear? Throughout the day, what food are you choosing to eat? Are you choosing to carry out your work or school obligations? How are you choosing to treat yourself today? We tend not to recognize how we are motivating ourselves to make choices each and every day; we discount them due to the habitual nature of most of these daily choices. Once you have accepted that you are, in fact, making choices and creating change in your daily life, you will improve your belief in your ability to make additional change; motivating yourself to engage in the "normal" things you believe are part of the human life. It is the snowball effect. Once you start the small changes, the big changes will follow with less effort.  Once you have identified your active engagement in daily choices and change, take some time to identify the life changes you want to make but have not yet done so. Write down the life changes you want to make but have not done yet. After you have created a list of the things you want to change, choose the one that seems to be the easiest to address. Take that one thing and identify the steps it will take to complete the task.  After you have outlined the steps, open your calendar and assign each step to its own calendar day. Keep in mind that you want the steps to be attainable.  Once you have completed one of your goals, go on to the next. You will find that once you begin the process of engaging in and accomplishing your goals you will be motivated to address the other things you want to change, leading to an interruption of the vicious worry loop.  One suggestion that Alex Korb, Phd suggests is to make an anti-laziness rule: "Decide ahead of time that you'll take the stairs for anything less than three floors. Decide that you'll walk to do any errand that is less than a mile away or bike to any that are less than two miles away. Commit to never taking an escalator if the stairs are right next to it. Don't circle the parking lot looking for a closer space, just take the first one you see" (Korb, 2015, p. 91). Challenging yourself to make these types of decisions can help redirect your worry from feeling frozen to feeling active. Again, increasing your belief in yourself.  In regards to the things you are attempting to change that you cannot change, it is important to employ the skill of detachment. There is a meditation titled Leaves on a Stream. In this meditation you imagine yourself sitting by a stream. As you are watching the stream go by you notice there are leaves floating along, just peacefully making their way down the stream, enjoying the tiny waves of water. Imagine that you are taking the things you cannot change or control and placing them on the leaves. You calmly watch as the leaves take them away slowly but surely down the stream. You have now detached from your expectation that you can control or change these things. If you find yourself re-attaching to them in the future, remind yourself that you have already sent them down the stream and have no ability to take them back. Just let them go on down the stream. You can also use this technique to reduce anxiety by imaging you are placing your anxious thoughts on the leaves and watching them travel away from you - again detaching and letting go.  When it comes to climbing out from under the burden of anxiety and worry to create change it comes down to implementing the simplest skill in small incremental ways. You can only focus on one thing at a time, one day at a time, one change at a time. Take your time, allow yourself to focus on one change at a time, detach from the things you cannot change and you will find within less time than you would expect that you are able to easily complete the "normal" things, along with finding motivation to engage in the longer term goals you want to achieve. 
(MS, LAC, LCPC)
Answered on 10/20/2022

How do i find my purpose in life? And how do i know if i’m having an anxiety/depression attack?

Hi Luna,   Thank you for your question. It sounds as if you are worried about what the future holds for you. It sounds as if anxiety prevents you from doing things you would like to, and it is getting you down. You want to succeed and have a sense of what this means to you. Some days sound like there is a lot of hopelessness and that you can't get out of bed? It sounds, too, as if you don’t know if you are anxious or depressed but something does not feel right for you- you have lost a sense of if you have a future at all, though you have also reached out for help.   It might surprise you that it isn’t uncommon to feel this way and uncertainty around the future can be very difficult to sit with. Some people might call it something else, or have a name for it, which can be isolating. The most important thing to know is that this is how you feel, it is your reality, and it is valid. At the moment, working out why you feel this way and how to change it is hard, which is why counseling can help.   The first step in learning to cope with how we are feeling about uncertainty is to listen to the wisdom of your body. You want to freely admit and be honest, accepting that just because you're struggling with how you feel doesn't mean you're weak, it just means you're human. Perhaps list all your sources of stress and how you might react to them differently and with empathy for yourself. And coming to terms with a problem is difficult, unless we stop denying that there is a problem with how it is responded to. You have been fine up until now, good enough is more achievable than perfect, but if you want to get up and face the day, something needs to change.   The kind of thoughts that we tell ourselves when we feel we can't cope give us permission to continue to stay in denial and not deal with our emotions, because that can be kind of scary, dealing with emotions, because what does that mean? It doesn't mean you don't want change things; but it might mean you may need help to see the resources you have to cope with what you are experiencing right now.   Thinking about the future can be difficult. Sometimes, when life becomes difficult, we lose track of ourselves, including the things, people and connections that are important to us. Success can be a measure of happiness. I'd invite you to have a think about the quality of the relationships you have. How do you know your friends are just that and what stops you talking openly about how you are feeling? Emotional intimacy, active listening, support, and companionships are all important. When these are missing in your life, it could lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness, too. Think about how you would be with a friend if they were going through what you are experiencing. Often, we don’t speak to ourselves the same way we do our friends, which damages our relationship with ourselves.   Likewise, to improve our relationship with ourselves, it can be helpful to set goals that feel manageable given where you are at the moment. Like with creating content for YouTube and TikTok- is it fair to expect yourself to put yourself out there when you're feeling so vulnerable and unsure where to start?   When we have an expectation of ourselves that is asking too much, it can be aspirational, but unrealistic expectations seem to get in the way of consistency at least as often as they support it.   Sometimes our expectations and plans can be so lofty we forget where we are and don't take into consideration how we feel, it is disempowering. As an alternative, we can create a simple list of things you feel able to do that moves you towards the general direction of your goal. For example, you could break down your goal to be on YouTube into smaller, manageable steps.   Organic growth over time helps identify what we can do with the resources we have. It helps to appreciate that our energy levels change, and our resilience can ebb and grow. And anything that gets us to happily show up every day is the mechanism- expectations that are too high lead to feeling like we want to shut down.   Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant feelings, events or thoughts that trouble you may help you process them. Depending on how strong you feel about these events, going through the process with a counselor is highly advisable.   Take care of your physical needs. When bodies are run down, you're more susceptible to burnout. Make sure you have a good diet. Avoid abusing yourself with rigid diets. Try to get as much exercise as you realistically can, avoid addictive substances and get plenty of sleep. Attend the basic needs you're not attending, eating healthy, not too much caffeine and being mindful of getting enough sleep.   And then you also want to nurture yourself more than others. You need to show up for you. You need to have a better balance and you do have a choice, although it is hard, to do so. I want you to always ask yourself, what am I doing today to nurture myself while I'm still there for others and away with my concerns?   It is important to remember that everyone needs support sometimes and care always, including you. Sometimes social media can impact this. Be mindful when you're on social media how much time you spend there and what type of accounts you follow. How people present themselves is often different to their life - they present their best or worst parts of their day, but rarely show everything, particularly the mundane or things that won’t get them ‘likes’. It can cause comparative behavior, where one never scores higher than the ones that seem ‘perfect’ or like they have their lives together.   Making time for self-care and listening to yourself is an important part of life. Not taking care of your needs can cause problems of self-worth which could also impact feelings of needing to be more and, do more, too. 
(MA, Counselling, Cognitive, Behaviour, Therapy, Level, 5, PGDIP, Integrative, Counselling)
Answered on 10/18/2022

How do I rid myself of a negative mindset?

Typically, a negative mindset is the result of our core beliefs.  Core beliefs are developed in childhood and usually during stressful situations.  It is our core beliefs that shape our view of the world.  For example, if your core belief is that the world is unsafe, you will start to believe that you are in danger even in situations that appear safe to most people.  Think of it like a tree, if your core belief is the trunk, and that core belief is negative, then all of the branches of that three will be negative (your thoughts).  So the branches will sprout thoughts like "I'm in danger", "I cannot trust anyone", or "I'm not safe".  It is important to remember that our thoughts directly correlate to how we feel.  That means if the thoughts are negative, then our feelings are negative.  In order to get rid of the negative thoughts, you have to first identify the core belief that is driving the thought and then ask two very important questions: 1. Is this thought accurate?  Often times the negative thought that drives our negative emotions is an inaccurate thought.  For example, if I think "I cannot trust anyone", that would be an inaccurate thought because of course I can trust someone.   2. Is this thought helpful?  Much like inaccurate thinking many of the negative thoughts that drive our negative emotions are unhelpful.  For example, if I think "I'm going to die".  Well, the reality is we're all going to die at some point, but if I'm healthy then always thinking that I'm going to die is unhelpful. So, if the thoughts are inaccurate or unhelpful ways of thinking, then we change the thoughts to more accurate or more helpful ways of thinking.  This sounds easy, but the reality is, it's a difficult task to do.  More importantly, if you have conditioned your brain to believe inaccurate and unhelpful thoughts, then when you start telling yourself accurate and helpful thoughts, your brain will struggle to believe them, at first.  So remember, change takes dedicated practice.  You will need to practice telling yourself accurate helpful information in order to rid yourself of a negative mindset.
Answered on 10/18/2022

How do I find my purpose and stop overthinking everything?

Hi Guy123,   Thank you for reaching out with your question. It sounds as though overthinking and lacking purpose have lead to your emotions being all over the place and your anger is pent up. You notice your emotions, but it sounds as if you can’t work out what to do with them. There are emotional consequences in not feeling happy and physical ones you may be aware of too. Though you have a sense of what might be causing this- your location, job, and issues with your partner's past and family, it is hard for me to get a sense of what triggers you the most. The most important thing to know is that this is how you feel, it is your reality, and it is valid. At the moment, working out why you feel this way and how to change it is hard, which is why counselling can help.   It can be helpful to set goals that feel manageable when you are overthinking. When we have an expectation that is unrealistic of ourselves and that is asking too much, it can be aspirational, but unrealistic expectations seem to get in the way of consistency at least as often as they support it. For example, when it comes to anger, it would be difficult to get rid of anger completely, but it can be soothed in manageable ways.   Sometimes, our expectations and plans can be so lofty we forget where we are and don't take into consideration how we feel, it is disempowering. Might it be you have good reason to be angry? What are the consequences of dismissing your emotions? As an alternative, we can create a simple list of things you feel able to do that moves you towards the general direction of your goal. This could be something like noticing what triggers your anger responses to bring them into greater awareness.   Organic growth over time identifies what we can do with the resources we have. It helps us appreciate that our energy levels change, and our resilience can ebb and grow. And anything that gets us to happily show up every day is the mechanism- expectations that are too high lead to feeling like we want to shut down.   Other times, it might be we don’t think we can talk openly about the thoughts and emotions that are occupying us; from the past, present or future, with the people around us. For example, addressing the issues you have with your partner and their family. If we don’t feel we have the right words to explain how we feel, why would anyone listen? This is where therapy can help. Counsellors provide a third party, non-judgemental approach to what you are feeling, so you can find a language to help express yourself.   Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant feelings, events or thoughts that trouble you may help you process them. Depending on how strong you feel about these events, going through the process with a counsellor is highly advisable.   Thinking about how to find motivation when scared is hard, though and it might be helpful to consider the following:   • Sleep is often the first thing to change or deteriorate when we are overwhelmed. Ideally, aiming for 7-9 hours’ sleep is important. If you are having difficulty sleeping, a counsellor can help you explore why this might be and how it could improve.   • Being active can improve physical health and mental health as well. You said you find physical activity helpful and there are lots of things you can do depending on how much energy you feel you have, including brief activities whilst the kettle boils or dinner cooks.   • Maintaining connection with friends and/ or family can help. Humans have evolved as sociable animals, meaning connection helps us feel grounded and connected to what is happening around us.   • Creativity is also important- a favorite piece of music, art work or expressive art can reduce anxiety. Writing, drawing, creating for yourself has been shown to connects you with more positive emotions, plus gives you something to look forward to and activities that aren’t the main stress factors of your life. Some music won’t help of course- fast and irregular tempos as in dance music or aggressive lyrics may (but not always) make things worse.   Overthinking can also be known as dwelling, which takes us away from the resources we have. It can be helpful to think about the things you can control in each situation. Taking action to control how you respond when angry is a good example of this. You can control how you respond to people and yourself. Counselling can help with this, as certain types of therapy can help empower you to see the choices you do have and why you feel anxious since your panic attacks, too.   By focusing on what you can and are able to do, this moves the thought processes away from dwelling, to actively doing what you can. There are situations you cannot control, for example, we cannot control people. We also cannot control how others respond to us, though in both cases, we can control our emotional and thought responses to them. This can be hard to do and is another example of where therapy can help provide support.   Actively working with how you feel and your emotions is important. How you feel right now, is how you feel, it is important you work to avoid suppressing or avoiding this, which will only increase your belief that you cannot handle overthinking. Even if the situation is not one you can control, you can still work with your emotions to address how it makes you feel. This can reduce anxious and stressful feelings.   It is not uncommon to adopt behaviors to try to cope with feeling uncomfortable. As well as overthinking, it might be that you need constant reassurance, or even to avoid situations. However, these strategies do not prevent the unknown from happening.   Challenging these behaviors may help reduce the need to dwell. Each time you are faced with uncertainty, consider what the advantages of not knowing are as well as the disadvantages. Not all uncertainty is bad, but perhaps it doesn’t feel like that right now? Learning to sit with uncertainty helps with being able to respond to what is happening in front of you, adapting and overcoming the challenge.   Sometimes, our thoughts convince us that certainty gives us control in a situation, but what does certainty really bring? No matter how certain we feel about something, it can always change. So, craving certainty does not make it certain, but it does leave you feeling anxious. Within this, try to consider what your need is to reason your thoughts? Does uncertainty mean something bad will happen? Or does it mean something bad will happen because you think it will? Even if something bad does happen, does that mean you won’t be able to cope with it? It might not sound easy but try not to underestimate yourself. You do have the resources to cope when things go well or badly. What would it be like to ask a friend or family member how they cope with uncertainty? Likewise, if it were a friend struggling with uncertainty, what would you say to them?   It is important to allow yourself to feel the effects of your thoughts and work through them. It may feel uncomfortable, and it will pass eventually. It can be helpful to think of ways to find it believable that the discomfort will pass, too. Focusing on the present, what is going on around you, will help you feel and experience the what is happening in the present rather than your thoughts about it. Staying present, or grounding, is a group of techniques that can be learnt either through counseling or internet tutorials, to help with this.   So, overthinking and lacking purpose are not easy to experience, but it is all around every day- focusing on yourself, what you can make certain, can challenge and can feel are all important strategies in preventing how you feel when things overwhelm you.  
(MA, Counselling, Cognitive, Behaviour, Therapy, Level, 5, PGDIP, Integrative, Counselling)
Answered on 08/17/2022

How can i deal with extreme anxiety at work and feeling overwhelmed so i can't think straight?

Hi Betty! Thank you so much reaching out for support on the Better Help platform! I am so glad that you decided to ask this important question related to the topic of anxiety at work. Although many individuals do report feelings of anxiety, the actual symptoms an individual can experience can fluctuate and be different from person to person. How would you describe your own personal experience of anxiety? When did the feelings of anxiousness begin for you? It may be helpful to create a timeline of your anxiety experience as a means to highlight your overall history of anxiety. I can tell that you are committed to doing well at work and your job performance is very much a priority and important to you. What do you do for work? How long have you been doing this type of work? You mentioned that you have some feelings of fear related to making mistakes at your job. Does this mostly come up at work or does it also come up at other points in your life? If you were to make an error, what would be the consequence? It sounds like you have tried to rationalize your feelings of anxiety in the past. Some strategies to manage anxiety at work may include deep breathing exercises, such as four square breathing, belly breathing and butterfly breathing. Depending on the type of work you do, there may be other ways to incorporate anxiety reduction skills into your daily work routine. In addition to incorporating coping skills at work, you may want to consider practicing anxiety reduction techniques when you are not at work, so that utilizing these strategies at work feel more reasonable and attainable.  It sounds like you have a really introspective way of identifying your own personal experience with anxiety. What strategies and techniques have worked for you in the past to manage your feelings of anxiousness? Would you be willing to create a daily mood chart? It may be helpful to rate the frequency and intensity of your feelings of anxiousness as a means to relate and observe your feelings in connection to the things going on in your day to day life. It can be essential to establish a connection between thoughts, feelings and behavior. This is the founding principle of cognitive behavioral therapy. The idea is if you can change your thoughts, you can change your feelings as well as your behavior. In your question, you had mentioned that you would like to learn how to manage your feelings of anxiety at work. I can tell that you are committed to making positive changes in your life. In addition to the other strategies that I mentioned, it would be awesome if you could practice saying a positive affirmation on a daily basis. An example of a self affirming statement is: "I choose to create a safe space for myself to feel my feelings that I feel. I am okay with this and I choose to free myself from feelings of anxiety and stress. I am doing really well. Today is going to be a great day!" You can always personalize this kind of statement to meet your own needs and incorporate your personal inner voice. Try repeating a positive quote throughout your day and while you are working. This will also likely assist you in the process of boosting your overall confidence! If you would like more ideas or would like to check out the positive affirmation for the day, you can always look online for self affirming statements. I recommend looking into the work of Louise Hay! "You Can Heal Your Life" is an amazing and inspiring book by Louise Hay. It seems like you have already done the first step in recognizing your emotional state of mind and have begun the process of assessing your feelings of anxiousness. It may be helpful to ask yourself about your inner experience of anxiety and become an observer on your own feelings. It is ideal to try to make sense of the feelings that you are having to the best of your ability. You had stated that you have identified an increase in feelings of anxiety over the past year. If you had to guess, why do you think that you have been experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety over the past year? What would you say are some of your triggers? Perhaps it may be worthwhile for you to utilize self care skills as a means to manage and improve your overall symptoms presentation. As a provisionally licensed art therapist, I always recommend taking some time to create art. It is a little known fact that drawing from and coloring within a circle can lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure. This means that drawing within a circle has been scientifically proven to bring about feelings of relaxation. If you have not already, you may want to print some coloring pages, such as mandalas, or buy an adult coloring book. Utilize colored pencils, crayons, chalk pastels and gel pens to fill in various states within the circular space. If you can, you may want to pair the coloring with a hot cup of tea or a cool drink or listen to music or light a candle. This can be a very grounding experience to incorporate the five senses into art making activities. I also recommend individual counseling at this time. Meeting with a counselor on a weekly or biweekly basis can help you build your skill set and learn anxiety reduction skills. Mindfulness-based techniques are typically a first line of defense in my practice as a therapist. If mindfulness is not for you, there are other ways to reduce your feels of anxiety. The first step is identifying the feelings of anxiety and observing triggers. As I am typing up my response to your question, I came across this article that may also provide some additional answers and insight into the question you had asked! https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/22/a-psychotherapist-shares-the-exercises-she-uses-every-day-to-be-more-confident.html I hope that my response was helpful for you in some way!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 06/26/2022

How can I rest? Get more energy throughout the day?

Hello and thank you for taking the time to share some of your experiences.  If it often difficult to manage work and personal stresses in our daily lives.  I think it is safe to say that our body reacts to stressful situations in a number of ways and yes, the reactions often include what you are experiencing.  With this being said, there are a couple of things I would like to suggest for you to try to integrate into a daily routine to assist you with stressful situations.  First, daily self-care is so important as it allows us to reset our body (physically) and our minds (emotionally). Self-care behaviors are good to implement daily, at least one hour per day. Self-care does not have to be complicated as it is a way to reduce overthinking and over exertion of our mind.  So, watching a funny show or movie, taking a long bath with soft smelling candles and some soft music, taking a walk in the park or on the beach, mediation or yoga with soft music and maybe soft smelling candles, going to the gym/exercising, dimming your lights to a soft yellow or orange color, refraining from serious or in-depth conversations, refraining from working, refraining from taking care of your children (if you have any), and/or refraining from any outside distractions during your self-care time.  It takes exercising these self-care behavioral patterns daily, until it becomes a routine without you even thinking about it.  Second, being okay with taking 5-10 minute breaks during work hours and walk around outside in the sun or sitting in your car or walking around the parking lot.  This will allow you to breathe in some fresh air throughout your day and release tension in your shoulders and back areas. It will also assist you with developing pro-active behaviors and not be reactive.  Count to 5 or 10 before responding to confrontations and/or conversations that others engage you in.  It is not always what is said, it is also how it is said (initiating and responding). Try not to feel that you have to eat lunch with others or spend your break times with others.  Take time to be by yourself, because this is your personal time.  Often times, eating lunch by yourself can help, because it reduces the need to engage with others when you do not wish to do so.  It allows you to take that pressure off of yourself and be okay with your "self-time."  Others may not agree or or understand your positions, but that is okay.  It's okay to agree to disagree.  Third, it is okay that you are not okay.  Everyone handles stresses in different ways, because we are all different.  Our body chemistry is different.  It is okay that you want or need to take a break for yourself after work.  Go for an hour or 30 minute drive after work to allow yourself to leave work at work and focus on what your evening will be like.  Allow yourself to breathe and be okay with enjoying the rest of your day doing what you want to do.  Try not to pressure yourself to please others or receive approval (validation) from others about your decisions.  Fourth, take an entire day at least once a week to focus on you.  You deserve it and you work hard for it.  Fifth, take one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, and one second at a time.  Rome wasn't created in one day and we are unable to create and solve our situations in one day.  Tomorrow, will take care of itself when it gets here.  Live for today and let tomorrow starts when it gets here.  Sixth, enjoy embracing the good and the positive in your life.  Utilize drawing, coloring, painting, writing, reading, or any art or craft you can do to keep your mind from being idle.  If you do not have a hobby, identify one and embrace it. An idle mind is the devil's workshop.  Guard your mind with peaceful thoughts and positive actions.  Seventh, self-talk is what we tell ourselves to be true, even if it is not.  Change your self-talk to positive constructive actions.  Handle or work to resolve what you have control of and let the rest go. As we often say, everyone should stay in their lane.  We only have control over ourselves and we cannot make anyone do anything. Eighth, manage your diet in the amount of caffeine you drink (if any). Eat fruits and vegetables daily. Feed your body healthy foods, so it can provide your brain and body with healthy nutrients.  Be sure you are getting checkups from your doctor and sharing your concerns with him/her.  An unhealthy body is an unhealthy mind.  The body and mind works together to create an overall healthy YOU.  Lastly, forgive yourself for whatever is holding you back or has held you back. Forgive yourself for the decisions you made that did not turn out as you expected them to.  Let it go, because you cannot change what is already done.  We learn from choices and our decisions so we can do better.  Seek professional individual help, if you feel like you need it.  Do not let it fester until it is out of control.  Professional help is here and ready when you are ready! I hope I have said something to encourage you to "Embrace Life Responsibly" in being the best version of YOURSELF!! Take care, Wendy
(MA, MFT, LPC)
Answered on 06/23/2022

How to overcome an invisible roadblock to advance in my career and health when I know the steps?

Hi Sashimi,    Thank you for your question. Feeling stuck in cycles and feeling anxious to achieve a successful job sounds hard right now. You don’t know why you feel the way you do, people around you don't realise how hard things are for you and, you are coping but it doesn't sound like you are thriving. It sounds, too, as if you don’t know if you are searching for the right tool to unlock a well paid role, but something does not feel right for you.   It might surprise you that it isn’t uncommon to feel this way. Some people might call it something else, or have a name for it, which can be isolating. The most important thing to know is that this is how you feel, it is your reality, and it is valid. At the moment, working out why you feel this way and how to change it is hard, which is why counselling can help.    Your experience could be for a number of reasons- it could be trauma, anxiety, depression, hormonal or grief to name but a few common reasons. COVID-19 restrictions have made such factors a lot worse, too. These types of issues can be lonely, confusing and disempowering- why wouldn’t you feel something is wrong because of them?    The first step in learning to cope with how we are feeling is to listen to the wisdom of your body. You want to freely admit and be honest, accepting that just because you're struggling with how you feel doesn't mean you're weak, it just means you're human. Perhaps list all your sources of stress and how you might react to them differently and with empathy for yourself. And coming to terms with a problem is difficult, unless we stop denying that there is a problem with how it is responded to. You have been fine up until now, good enough is more achievable than perfect, but if your focus on self-study sounds as if it is becoming a problem for you, something needs to change.   The kind of thoughts that we tell ourselves when we feel we can't cope gives us permission to continue to stay in denial and not deal with our emotions, because that can be kind of scary, dealing with emotions, because what does that mean? It doesn't mean you don't want change things; but it might mean you may need help to see the resources you have to cope with what you are experiencing right now.   Sometimes, when life becomes difficult, we lose track of ourselves, including the things, people and connections that are important to us. Have a think about the quality of the relationships you have. How do you know your friends are just that and what stops you talking openly about how you are feeling? Emotional intimacy, active listening, support, and companionships are all important. When these are missing in your life, it could lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness, too. Think about how you would be with a friend if they were going through what you are experiencing. Often, we don’t speak to ourselves the same way we do our friends, which damages our relationship with ourselves.   Likewise, to improve our relationship with ourself, it can be helpful to set goals that feel manageable given where you are at the moment. When we have an expectation of ourselves that is asking too much, it can be aspirational, but unrealistic expectations seem to get in the way of consistency at least as often as they support it.   Sometimes our expectations and plans can be so lofty we forget where we are and don't take into consideration how we feel, it is disempowering. As an alternative, we can create a simple list of things you feel able to do that moves you towards the general direction of your goal. If you want a role with more money, how can you work towards this is a sustainable way that doesn't demotivate you, for example?   Organic growth over time helps identify what we can do with the resources we have. It helps to appreciate that our energy levels change and our resilience can ebb and grow. And anything that gets us to happily show up every day is the mechanism- expectations that are too high lead to feeling like we want to shut down.   Other times, it might be we don’t think we can talk openly about the thoughts and emotions that are occupying us; from the past, present or future, with the people around us. If we don’t feel we have the right words to explain how we feel, why would anyone listen? This is where therapy can help. Counsellors provide a third party, non-judgmental approach to what you are feeling, so you can find a language to help express yourself.   Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant feelings, events or thoughts that trouble you may help you process them. Depending on how strong you feel about these events, going through the process with a counsellor is highly advisable.   It might be how you see yourself in relationship with others impacts your relationship with yourself. It might help to think how you see yourself and who you prioritise. For some people, taking care of others might come first. It sounds for you as if there are a lot of elements of comparison with those around you. Consider whether you put the needs of others first and if you struggle to make time for yourself. An aspect of this might be people pleasing. You may feel that making others happy makes you happy, too. Often, when you feel it is OK to meet your needs, you become better able ask for help and support others, too.   Take care of your physical needs. When bodies are run down, you're more susceptible to burnout. Make sure you have a good diet, especially your breakfast, something healthy. Avoid abusing yourself with rigid diets. Try to get as much exercise as you realistically can, avoid addictive substances and get plenty of sleep. Attend the basic needs you're not attending- don't work out for hours every day, just your basic needs- eating healthy, not too much caffeine and being mindful of getting enough sleep.   It is important to remember that everyone needs support sometimes and care always, including you. Sometimes social media can impact this. Be mindful when you are on social media how much time you spend there and, what type of accounts you follow. How people present themselves is often different to their life- they present their best or worst parts of their day, but rarely show everything, particularly the mundane or things that won’t get them ‘likes’. It can cause comparative behaviour, where one never scores higher than the ones that seem ‘perfect’ or like they have their lives together.   Making time for self-care and listening to yourself is an important part of life. Not taking care of your needs can cause problems of self-worth which could also impact feelings of frustration, too.   Do not be afraid to seek help with this as you explore it further. Be kind to yourself and listen to your needs as you are getting to know these aspects of yourself.  
(MA, Counselling, Cognitive, Behaviour, Therapy, Level, 5, PGDIP, Integrative, Counselling)
Answered on 05/31/2022

Why can't I get to the next level of life at my age?

This can be a difficult question to answer. First, what do you see as the next level for you.  How much time and effort have you spent on achieving the next level.  You mention how others are promoted unfairly based on the fact that they are not always honest.  Unfortunately, life can be unfair.  It is not uncommon for there to be an appearance that people who take short cuts or behave inappropriately get ahead faster.  One question you must ask yourself is: do I want to be that kind of person?  From what you said, “I get punished or left behind” may indicate that mistreating people, lying, manipulating does not come very natural to you and are not who you are.  I would affirm you in saying that is a good thing.  Sometimes the people who get away with those things are not good people, that is who they are as a person.  From your question my guess is that is not the kind of person you want to be.  You can’t control what happens sometimes, but you can control you, your thoughts, and attitudes.  It is easy to get caught up in focusing on other individuals and stop focusing on ourselves.  Sometimes we think if only others would do or be . . ., then I could reach the next level.  The fact is others are not going to do what you think they should so you can succeed.  As long as you are waiting for others to change, you will not achieve the “next level”.  You have to take charge of you own life. To get to the “next level” whatever that is, you must focus on you and what you can control.  You can control your responses to situations.  You can begin setting goals to help you achieve the things you want to achieve.  You can control taking the steps you need to take to reach your goals.  When something does not work the way you want it to work, you control your response and whether or not you give up or try again, perhaps learn from your failed attempt and try a different approach.  You will never achieve anything in your own life as long as your focus is on others, or as long as you are depending on others for your success.  Take charge of your life today. Focus on what you can do today that will take you one step closer no matter how large or small that step is to achieving what you want to achieve in life.   Your Fan Mark
Answered on 05/31/2022

Why do I overthink every single detail of my life?

Hi Nichole! Thank you so much for reaching out for support on the BetterHelp platform! I appreciate you taking the time to ask this valuable question on the topic of over thinking and building trust with others. It is so great to see that you are ready to reach out for support on this topic and begin to ask these important questions for your self! I see that you mentioned that you have been struggling with trusting other people. It sounds like you have been thinking that you can not trust anyone in your life. Can you recall the last time you that you had been able to fully trust somebody? What would need to change in your life in order for you to begin to trust other people again?I know that you mentioned that you are constantly "waiting for the other shoe to drop." From my perspective, it sounds like you are always expecting the worst to happen. If that is the case, that means that you are always waiting for something bad to happen. I wonder if what you are experiencing is similar to the fear of impending doom, which is a clinically significant symptom of anxiety. I can tell that what you are going through must be impacting your current relationships with friends and family. This must be a very isolating experience for you. I can imagine that living in a constant state of guilt and worry can bring a lot of anxiety and added stress into your life. What have you been doing as a means to manage that stress? I know that you mentioned that you feel like nobody actually loves you. Can you recall a time when you actually did feel loved? When do you think that belief that you are unloved had developed for you? A key question that you may want to explore is: how can you begin to love yourself?  Self love is a very powerful tool to get better, feel better and, essentially, stay better. Try to take some time to practice daily positive affirmations, such as: "I choose to love myself today!" Positive self talk will likely benefit you in learning to support yourself and validate your own feelings and personal experiences. You stated that you have been feeling afraid that your boyfriend could be cheating on you when you know, realistically, he is not doing so. That must be very difficult for you to make sense of. When did that intrusive thought start coming up for you? Has he actually cheated on you in the past? What can you do to establish more trust with him so that you will feel comfortable when he is not with you? Have you talked to him about this at all? Perhaps speaking to him sometime about this may be helpful for you to hear his perspective on this situation. I definitely recommend that you engage in individual therapy services at this time. If you do not feel like you are ready, that is okay too. In therapy, you will be able to address the issues of low self esteem and trust with your therapist. It sounds like you generally feel like a failure and that you are not meeting the expectations in the roles that you have in your life. What are some strategies that have been helpful for you in the past to build self esteem? As a child, did you participate in any extra curricular activities that allowed you to feel good about yourself? Perhaps you may want to take some time to practice mindfulness meditation exercises. If you are interested, you can look up guided meditation and visualization exercises online. A popular art therapy technique is called the Rose Bush guided imagery and visualization activity (Allan, 1988). In this visualization exercise, you may want to find a comfortable space and begin to imagine yourself as a rose bush. As the rose bush, what might your petals look like? What colors would your roses be? What unique features would your personal rose bush have? Imagine that, as the rose bush, you have all of the nutrients that you need (i.e. water, nutrient dense soil, sunlight, etc.). Imagine having a gardener care for you and prune your branches. Might you have some thorns to keep yourself safe? Your rose bush may have come a long way from a seedling to a full size plant. Imagine that, as the rose bush, your buds begin to blossom as the sunlight shines on your petals and leaves. As the rose bush, visualize that you are in a safe, stable environment. You are exactly where you are meant to be. Once you have taken the time to imagine yourself as a rose bush, try to draw what your rose bush may have looked like. If you do not feel comfortable with drawing, you may want to search for an image of your rose bush online. It is true that drawing, coloring, painting and other kinds of arts and crafts activity may be a helpful tool for building self esteem and enhancing the sensory experiences. The rose bush assessment will likely allow you to feel peace and integrate relaxation into your day. Some additional ideas for you to try include: listening to music, exercising, cooking, traveling, making new friends, breathing in some fresh air, enjoying your time with family, helping someone in need, watching your favorite movie and writing a gratitude list. Do what works well for you! Allow yourself or feel the feelings that you have because they are important. Allow yourself to change the thoughts that you have when they are not serving you in a healthy way. Always do your best to love yourself, care for yourself and think positively about yourself. I truly hope that my response to your question has been helpful in some way. I want to thank you again for your time and I wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey on the BetterHelp platform!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 05/19/2022

How to you get into dating when I'm so nervous and anxious I can bearly hold eye contact with a girl

Hello Geoff, thank you for asking this question, it shows a lot that you are willing to go out of your way, and probably outside of your comfort zone, to ask for help. You may receive some different opinions on this topic, but I believe the goal of being able to meet someone new and / or go on successful dates with women, would be best addressed by slowing down and working on the anxiety itself, first. If you are going to enter your car into a race, you probably want to start by making sure the tires are full of air, and the engine is in good shape. You indicated that you have never been evaluated for social anxiety, and it may be time to actually see a professional counselor for this. Of course, simply being evaluated probably will not resolve your issue, but seeing a professional therapist regularly, who can help you explore the roots of your anxiety, and help you develop healthy means of managing anxiety when it is present, and eliminating the effects of anxiety in some situations, would probably do you a world of good, not just in terms of the dating world, but in terms of life in general.  When it comes to achieving major life goals, something a therapist would likely work with you on is something called SMART goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. If there is a goal that feels so out of reach it is causing you distress, no person alive is likely to all of a sudden be able to achieve it one day without working towards it in some way. It is best to start small. Setting small SMART goals that help you eventually build toward the goal of successfully dating, will help you pinpoint various barriers and stressors you are currently facing, and help you overcome them slowly, to build your confidence towards the actual thing. You did not mention if you are happy with your overall social life outside of the dating world, but if your friend group is lacking as well, perhaps a small and reasonable short-term goal could be just to go out and have a conversation with a stranger, with zero added expectations. That is one example of what I mean by starting small. Therapy should not offer you any kinds of "tricks for dating," or anything like that, but I don't think that's what you're looking for anyhow. Therapy will help you address and resolve your anxieties so that this and other goals come more easily to you. I hope you are encouraged to work on yourself, and I hope this has been helpful! 
(LMHC)
Answered on 05/12/2022

Trying to find a purpose.

Hi there! Thank you for your question. I think it is an important one. Many people struggle to find their purpose and if not taking any direct actions, or being confused on what actions to take, it can complicate the anxiety or sadness that we feel. I would say to turn to your natural support systems to help you identify ways to cope with this or to engage in activities that promote a sense of purpose and well being but it seems as though you are saying that it is not an option.    I don't want to necessarily self promote therapy but this could be a good avenue for you to consider if you haven't already. The purpose of therapy is to develop a helpful connection with someone who can help you explore many different challenging aspects of life. Therapists can also help clarify your goals and help set you on the right path. To start, I do think that it would be helpful to do an exploration assignment where you envision yourself a year from now, 3 years from now and 5 years from now. What does your life look like if you were able to define it as "good"? What does your job situation look like, your personal life, money etc? After you have completed this exercise, start to think of how can you make these into actionable goals. Once you have done this, make sure that you then break them down into smaller digestible goals and set dates to accomplish them by. This is one way to get started as related to purpose. With respect to no one to turn to, I do encourage you to seek out a therapist as I stated previously. In this relationship, perhaps you would at least find someone who can listen and offer you support while you are figuring life out. Although therapists are not meant to be friends, they can be a primary support for you. They should demonstrate empathy and regard for you and your hopes and dreams which sometimes is enough to get the ball rolling on making some other necessary changes in your life. I wish you the best. Many people are struggling with these thoughts and feelings in a post pandemic world. We are here for you...
(LISW-S, LMSW, LCSW)
Answered on 05/10/2022

How do I stop overthinking?

Dear NG,   Thank you for your message and sharing.   I understand how difficult it is to try stopping your thoughts. I could imagine how hard you have been trying and how frustrating to feel that nothing is working.    We can't stop our thoughts, but the more we practice being mindful of the present, the better we can catch ourselves with our thoughts and develop an alternative response to them, and learn to let go.   During moments like this I remind myself the teachings regarding worries, it is consisted with a 2 part questions:   1. Is this problem within my control? If so, then this problem will be solved given time and the right intervention. 2. Would worrying about it make any difference? If not, then is it worth it to sacrifice our time and mental health worrying over something that (1. can't be solved anyway / 2. will be solved anyway)?   This is definitely easier said than done, therefore as a fellow human being, I am working with you to pay attention to what is good, what is kind rather than our worries.   Obsessive or consuming thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.   Can you stop obsessive thoughts? - If you could, it would be great, but the truth is that it's slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.   So how to stop these stops thoughts? The secret to stopping these thoughts is to detach from the mind because You cannot fight mind with the mind. Let's look at this in more detail.   What Causes Obsessive Thoughts?   If you generated the thoughts, you could've controlled them too.   The truth is that you don't generate thoughts, the mind does. And the mind is on auto-mode most of the time.   You can see this for yourself; can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can't how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?   If you believe that you are your mind, that's a false notion again.   If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.   The mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess over them.   So in truth, all thoughts are just neutral energy forms; it's your interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.   How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?   If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question - "is this question not another thought? It's a thought about killing thoughts".   All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts fail because you are using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind; so how can the police man catch the thief?   So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.   What gives power to a thought? - Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you.   You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don't take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.   Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises.   It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows - it's just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?   With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them.   You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don't associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.   What Are Thoughts?   Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode.   Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past "external" conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can be positive or negative depending on the mind's conditioning.   Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It's like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.   When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc.) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water.   Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.   The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to consuming thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts.   The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without focusing your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.   You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it.   This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum.   Whenever the mind thinks negatively, don't give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It's really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.   The Practice of Watching the Mind   All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved.   You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or "sadhana" as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.   Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all.   That the mind is like a machine in your head that generates thoughts based on your attention/interest. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of becoming free of the mind.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to talking with you more :) Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 09/29/2021

How to overcome the fear of doing what I want?

Hello! 1st, thank you for reaching out and asking this question. This is such an important step to take for your own mental health, wellness, and happiness. Our bodies are very much wired to naturally be motivated by 'wins'. When we experience a win, it reinforces that choice that we made. Failure doesn't produce the same motivation, naturally.  If you have established what your goals are as well as the steps it takes to achieve that goal, the process can produce some anxiety. Remember that anxiety lives in the future or the past. Using grounding techniques can help you to regain emotional composure. This is the place where you can problem-solve or try new things with a more calm and clear mind.  In order to begin to approach doing something new or something hard in order to reach our goals, answer the question for yourself: "Why do I need/want to achieve this goal? How will achieving this goal affect my life? How much do I need/want that end result?" Asking these questions can help illuminate things that you can utilize as motivation to accomplish the goals you've set for yourself OR inform you on ways you may need to adjust your goal to create reasonable steps for growth.  You can also utilize your support network. Who do you have in the life that can partner with you on the journal of accomplishing those goals? Who can you talk to when you feel like you've failed or allowed your anxiety to overpower your will, that can speak to you in a defeated place and help you re-establish your footing to go back and try again. At times, the change that sees for ourselves requires a "village" of support in order to overcome the personal challenges that stand between you and the life that you see for yourself. At times, you are better suited to communicate and journey through with someone to experience that "win" to strengthen you for the next journey. I hope this makes sense.  Establish your goals. Why did you choose these? What is the 'why"? (why is this goal necessary?) What is the block? ( what makes this scary or produces anxiety in you?) Find your tribe. Utilizing your support network in critical or difficult places can change the game for you in a very positive way.    As always, utilize the support of a licensed therapist to help you talk through things that may be difficult for you so that you are able to continue to achieve the progress you have set for yourself. Good luck to you, moving forward! 😊
(MAMFT, LPC)
Answered on 09/08/2021

How do I stop maladaptive daydreaming

I read where you interested in stopping maladaptive daydreaming. I see where you shared that you have used day dreaming as a coping mechanism since you first started experiencing symptoms of anxiety. I read where you shared that you continue to distract yourself from real life and you are interested in knowing how to stop maladaptive daydreaming. I would suggest that you first start with seeking mental health therapy with a professional counselor or therapist. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of triggers that manifest into depression. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those who only take medication in regards to dealing with depression. However, the choice is ultimately yours in regards to if your personal mental health needs.   A professional counselor or therapist can be very beneficial in supporting you with discussing and assessing your specific needs in alleviating or decreasing maladaptive day dreaming. A professional counselor or therapist can help you in regards to providing you with adequate or appropriate skills and techniques to discuss what situations, environments, etc. could be the cause or triggers to your symptoms of anxiety which you shared manifests into maladaptive daydreaming.   Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who struggle with maladaptive daydreaming that can manifest in symptoms of anxiety. In an effort to stop maladaptive daydreaming manifested by symptoms of anxiety you can try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to stop maladaptive daydreaming. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice that you are beginning to daydream outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self care activity and you can practice mindfulness.   Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial maladaptive daydreaming manifested by symptoms of anxiety in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a professional counselor or therapist and a medical provider if needed to properly assess your maladaptive daydreaming manifested by symptoms of anxiety. Mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs. Best regards to you!      
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/22/2021