Paranoia & Phobias Answers

How do I get myself feeling unstuck from where I am?

Good morning Allison, Sorry to hear that you are struggling with so many symptoms.  I'm glad you reach out to for help.   First of all, it is difficult to diagnose what condition you might have base on very limited information you provided.  I strongly advise that you seek out a mental health professional to describe your symptoms, severity, duration more thoroughly in order for the mental health professional to form at least a provisional/working diagnosis.  Once a provisional diagnosis is reach, the mental health professional can work with you on a treatment plan to help "unstuck" you from the symptoms and behaviors that you are suffering from.   Since you have been "almost positive that I have either adhd,ocd, or autism" and also have "severe anxiety disorder and depression", I would like to provide you with some pointers about OCD for you to prepare yourself on what to present at an official meeting with a mental health care provider, in order to be diagnosed properly.  Again, these are just the pointers for you to check off and prepare, and only limited to OCD, not a "self-diagnose" tool.  Please avoid diagnosing yourself.   I wish you all the best, Man   SYMPTOMS OF OCD Anxiety Uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts Repetitive thoughts Compulsive behavior Feeling the need to perform certain tasks Seeking reassurance Avoidance Becoming isolated Depression   WHAT ARE OBSESSIONS? Obsessions are uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts, images or the fear of performing an impulse.   Common OCD Obsessions Exaggerated fears of contamination from contact with people or everyday items Fear of causing harm to yourself or others Overwhelming urge to arrange items in a particular order so that they are just right Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky Fears of committing violent, sexually inappropriate, immoral, or sacrilegious action Overly concerned with illness or disease   WHAT ARE COMPULSIONS? Compulsions are behaviors one engages in to neutralize or mitigate fear, stress, or anxiety from obsessions. Compulsions can become incredibly time-consuming and take over someone’s life.   Common OCD Compulsions Repeatedly washing hands or showering Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety Continually seeking reassurance from others Repeating; re-reading or re-writing Ordering or arranging objects unnecessarily
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can i get over and make my life better

Hello, and thank you for your question. Fear of heights, or acrophobia, is a specific type of phobia that usually involves severe anxiety and may include panic attacks. Typically, phobias develop after a situation involving the stimuli (in this case heights) causes a person to fear for their life or wellbeing of someone else's life or wellbeing. The threat can be real or just be perceived as real by the individual. For example, a child can see someone fall from a building and develop a fear of heights. Every time the child is somewhere high up they may experience anxiety and can even suffer a panic attack even though there is no threat of actual harm present. A common situation could be walking up a flight of stairs  and experiencing a panic attack     The most common practice to work on and improve specific phobias is exposure therapy.  Exposure therapy is a therapeutic technique where the individual is exposed to anxiety-inducing stimuli without any danger is present. Depending on the level of the anxiety and the specific phobia exposure therapy can be done in several ways.  Before actually exposing an individual to the stimuli (heights) it is important to create a scale where they can measure their current level of anxiety. I like using a 0-10 scale where 10 is having a panic attack and 0 is no anxiety being present. Before exposing yourself to the stimuli, it is important to be able to differentiate what each number is. Maybe a 1 might be going up a small set of stairs, and a four is looking out the window of a two-story house. Creating distinctions between the numbers will help you measure your growth and push yourself to overcome your fear.   Before exposing yourself to the stimuli, you also want to make sure you have appropriate coping skills in place. Exposure therapy is about being uncomfortable and you need to have skills to manage that discomfort. Before exposure therapy, I would recommend exploring grounding techniques that can help you feel safe and calm down during situations of anxiety or panic.  Once you have developed a scale and have appropriate coping skills, you can slowly put yourself in anxiety-inducing situations that have no threat present. A common one is to imagine yourself in the situation and visualize the experience. Sometimes looking at photos or videos can help visualize and start to challenge the phobia as well. With each new step, you should also use your scale to record where your anxiety is.  The concept behind exposure therapy is that over time your response to the stimuli gets less and less until it is appropriate. 
Answered on 10/18/2021

Is it normal to obsess over a traumatic event?

Hello Zeze,    I'm sorry you have been experiencing so many losses and keep having intrusive thoughts about death. An obsession with death is often linked to intrusive thinking and anxiety, which places them are at risk of developing specific anxiety known as thanatophobia.  It is a phobia characterized by persistent ideas and fears related to death in general and especially to death itself. Symptoms vary from case to case and may include obsessive thoughts about death to avoiding any situation considered risky or even not leaving the house. Before talking about a phobia, it's important to face your obsessions and try to contain them. I would like to invite you to not avoid thinking about death, but rather to think correctly about it by reframing your thinking. Instead of thinking about death or fearing it, admit that death is an inevitable end and that, in the meantime, you must live your life to the fullest. Death can be scary to most but in many people, obsessive thoughts can impact daily life preventing them from fully appreciating their existence. Death is a subject that people, in general, don't like to talk about but that they often think about a lot. And while thinking about it is quite normal, becoming obsessed with death, your own or other people’s death is problematic. Death has always been a sensitive, uncomfortable, and avoided the subject. No one wants to think about the day when a loved one dies, or about their own death, which will cause family suffering. And yet, these thoughts happen from time to time because death is part of our reality. Thousands of people die around the world every day for different reasons, and the media are here to remind us. Added to this are our own experiences with the death of a loved one, friend, or neighbor. People recognize that death exists and that it is close to them. Worse yet: you never know when it will be your turn. Suddenly death becomes some kind of predator that could attack at any time. Death is unpredictable, even for a person with a fatal illness. We can only think about it, try to understand, and prepare for it. These realizations about death stress people on different levels. There are those who are afraid of leaving those they love and think about the pain they will feel, those who are afraid of no longer existing, those who are afraid of the process of death (illness, suffering, loneliness, etc. .,) and those who are afraid of what will happen after death. Fears of death vary depending on a person's development, experiences with death, religious and cultural beliefs, etc. One could try to rationalize the fear of death for an elderly person or a seriously ill person. But the truth is, these people often accept death better than others who (logically) have no reason to worry. Death is no longer a mystery to them (at least not as much as before) and they reach a certain level of acceptance. On the other hand, someone who has no reason to worry finds it more difficult to accept death. If you are young, healthy and in all likelihood should live a long time. And yet, you know that anyone can die anytime. This idea alone is enough to create a series of negative and obsessive thoughts. Also, try to discuss the topic with an elderly person. You will see things from their perspective, those who are approaching death and do not see this as a bad thing. Obsessions with death are not to be taken lightly. They can cause real physical symptoms and prevent you from living your life normally. If this is the case, it is necessary to seek professional help in order to obtain adequate psychological treatment. I wish you a great evening and I hope that my answer will help you. 
Answered on 10/18/2021

How to deal with a harsh inner critic?

In gaining a better understanding of when you say that you have this “harsh inner critic” I had to read more about what you have described.  I had a general idea of what you have expressed but wanted to gain a better understanding. It appears you are experiencing a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward yourself and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue about yourself which could be the root of much of your self-destructive and maladaptive behaviors. Your inner voice is not an auditory hallucination; it is your experienced thoughts within your head. This stream of destructive thoughts forms an anti-self that discourages you from acting in what is in your best interest. It appears your harsh inner voice is an internal enemy that can affect every aspect of your life, including your self-esteem and confidence, personal and intimate relationships, and your performance and accomplishments at school and work. These negative thoughts affect you by undermining your positive feelings about yourself and what you think others are thinking and it fosters self-criticism, distrust, self-denial, addictions, and a retreat from any goal-directed activities. At times, some of the common voices may include thoughts like “You’re stupid,” “You’re not attractive,” or “You’re not like other people.” Some people have voiced about their career, like “You’ll never be successful,” “No one appreciates how hard you work,” or “You are under too much pressure, you can’t handle this stress.” Many people experience voices about their relationship, such as “He doesn’t really care about you,” “You’re better off on your own,” or “Don’t be vulnerable, you’ll just get hurt.”   I’m sure you are wondering where my harsh inner voices come from.  These inner voices usually come from early life experiences that are internalized and taken in as ways we think about ourselves. Often, many of these negative voices come from our parents or primary caretakers, as children, we pick up on the negative attitudes that parents not only have towards their children but also toward themselves.  Our voices can also come from interactions with peers and siblings or influential adults. Additionally, your inner voice can be different than your conscience. Many people think if they stop listening to their inner voices, they will lose touch with their conscience. However, the harsh inner voice is not a trustworthy moral guide like a conscience. On the contrary, the harsh inner voice is degrading and punishing and often leads us to make unhealthy decisions. These negative voices tend to increase our feelings of self-hatred without motivating us to change undesirable qualities or act in a constructive manner. I am sure you are wondering how I conquer my harsh inner voice. Working with a counselor can help you take back the power of your destructive thought processes.  Counselors can help you first to become conscious of what your inner voice is telling you so you can stop it from ruining your life. To identify this, it is helpful to pay attention to when you suddenly slip into a bad mood or become upset, often these negative shifts in emotion are a result of a critical inner voice. Once you identify the thought process and pinpoint the negative actions it is advocating, you can take control over your inner voice by consciously deciding not to listen. Instead, you can the action that is in your best interest. Counselors here at Betterhelp can assist you to overcome your “harsh inner voice”.  
(EdD, NCC, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Can someone help my husband to get his driving anxiety under control?

Good Evening Driving Anxiety, I am so very sorry to learn of your husband's issues related to a potential phobia surrounding driving. It can be rather heartbreaking to watch as someone you love is crippled by fear, especially when you feel you do not have any tools to help them. I am not sure how long you have both had to cope with this problem but I imagine it is too long and I am deeply sympathetic. That said, yes, a BetterHelp therapist/psychologist could certainly help your husband through his phobia related to driving on parkways, bridges, and traveling via planes. They would first have to identify the origin of the fear. They would likely ask the following questions in an initial assessment of the problem: 1. When did the problem of becoming afraid of driving on parkways, bridges, and traveling on planes begin? 2. When did the problem intensify to the point of you feeling like it is necessary to avoid these scenarios altogether? 3. When is the last time you attempted to engage in driving or flying? 4. What symptoms do you experience when trying - sweating, heart racing, crying spells, etc? 5. What was the history of your treatment for these issues - when did you begin treatment, when did it end, what was helpful in relieving the symptoms that may have arisen when you were driving on parkways, bridges when you were flying? They will take a full inventory and likely settle on exposure therapy to help treat your husband. This is likely but it is not the only treatment modality that could be helpful to him. In fact, there are plenty of others and they can be highly effective in helping people work through the thoughts, feelings, etc. that are creating barriers to them interacting in their lives with the quality that they deserve. It seems your husband has lot some of that quality and you have lost as well as a result. I hope this answers your question and allows you to think about the next steps for your husband and your family. It certainly is highly important that he is able to take his life back and reclaim the road. Please feel free to come back to us here on the BetterHelp platform should you have any further questions and need some help taking on life's very tough hardships! We are here and rooting for you always. Be well and safe! 
(MSSW, LCSW, LICSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Is there any other way to get healed apart from counseling

This is an interesting question that could stand to be brought up in counseling to help define what you mean by healing. Without your input, it is difficult to determine how you see these thoughts and how they affect your behavior. Other questions could be how do you want this to change or appear different; do these thoughts disturb you; or even can you realize these are bizarre delusions and would like to be able to tolerate them? Maybe you want to use them as a resource to create fiction writing.  The most important question accompanying these kinds of thoughts is do they prompt malevolent behavior?  If it turns out you are a danger to yourself or others, it will likely lead to your being removed from society. Discussing this with others could help you determine what kind of help you would need to avoid being incarcerated. Those others would be people trained to discuss in a calm rational way the content, focus, meaning, and possible resolution to what you see needs healing. Some counselors are such people. They are trained to not judge or label you, but sit with you and explore your thought world experiences and how you may be able to bear with them. As far as healing, there could be several options. One is medical and involves taking medicines that reduce the intensity of the thoughts so they seem less powerful and intrusive. Other ways could involve spiritual practices like breathwork or such that help you tolerate these thoughts and turn them to good use. The prime concern here is to help you stay behaviorally safe both to yourself and others. It is OK to entertain the notion that you may be the leader of a pack of werewolves, but it is a whole other issue to act out as such.  The importance of working with a counselor is that it enables you to make the best possible choice in choosing the path that enables you to live successfully while these thoughts manifest in your psyche. Thoughts are neither good nor bad, but what is brought to justice is how we react to our thinking. Others with similar thought disorders have taken many paths dealing with them. Some have led to long-term incarceration, others to mandated medical delivery, while still others to satisfying thriving peaceful lives punctuated by rich thought lives of somewhat bizarre nature.  However, you proceed, I wish you a healthy journey. I hope your way is filled with helpful people who both support and encourage you to follow your best leadings. Counselors could be such people. Good Luck.  
(LMHC, LCMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I cope with my wife who refuses to get treatment for her mental illness?

Thank you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you would like to know how you cope with your wife who refuses to get treatment for her mental illness.  Sounds like your wife has a lot of paranoia that is affecting her life.  Sounds like you should see a mental health professional get a good diagnosis and treatment or medication. Sounds like she might be suffering from a psychotic disorder of some type.  Without treatment, this won't get any better. She probably needs some medication.  Sounds like your wife isn't a danger to herself or others. If she was you could request she go to the hospital. I would suggest you talk with her and how concerned you are for her wellbeing and just get a good medical checkup. Many times people that experience symptoms like this believe they are true and wonder why you don't believe them. This can be scary for them. You really can't change her beliefs or what she will do but can encourage her to get a good medical checkup. Do you have a good family doctor that your wife trusts and would be willing to talk with?  She might feel people think she is crazy and will lock her up. The fact is no one thinks she is crazy or wants to lock her up. Sounds like you just want her to get treatment. Once she gets on some good medication she will be more like her old self and these paranoid thoughts will go away and she can enjoy her life more. It would be like if a person has diabetes they need to take medication. If a person has high blood pressure they need to take medication. Is there something wrong with these people taking medication? They have a chemical imbalance in their bodies. Sounds like your wife might have a chemical imbalance in her body. She also needs to make sure she is getting enough sleep. Is she sleeping enough? This kind of paranoia can happen if a person goes too long without enough sleep. Encourage her to get good sleep. I hope this helped some and I wish you and your wife the best. I look forward to hearing from you.
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 10/18/2021

I am 34 and I think I might have ptd. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety can you plz help

Hello there, Unfortunately, determining whether or not someone has a diagnosis requires more than just a short consultation. To ensure that the diagnosis is accurate, I would recommend meeting with a psychiatrist a few times so that they can gather a thorough history and symptom picture.  "According to the DSM-5, there are two primary diagnostic criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder of which criterion A has seven sub-features, four of which must be present to warrant a diagnosis of PPD: Criterion A is Global mistrust and suspicion of others motives that commences in adulthood. The seven sub-features of criterion A are: 1.The person with PPD will believe others are using, lying to, or harming them, without apparent evidence thereof. 2.They will have doubts about the loyalty and trustworthiness of others, 3., They will not confide in others due to the belief that their confidence will be betrayed. 4.They will interpret ambiguous or benign remarks as hurtful or threatening, and 5. Hold grudges, 6. In the absence of objective evidence, believe their reputation or character are being assailed by others and will retaliate in some manner and 7. Will be jealous and suspicious without cause that intimate partners are being unfaithful. Criterion B is that the above symptoms will not be during a psychotic episode in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depressive disorder with psychotic features, A qualifier is that if the diagnostic criteria for PPD are met prior to the onset of Schizophrenia, it should be noted Paranoid Personality Disorder was premorbid (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Onset The DSM-5 notes that Paranoid Personality Disorder features may be apparent in childhood and adolescence. Children may act strangely, resulting in teasing (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This is an interesting note, in that it raises questions of premorbid causality. A child who exhibits abnormal behaviors and who is rejected by peers may learn not to trust and may become suspicious of others' motives. This could be a contributing factor in the development of a paranoid personality. Prevalence According to the DSM-5, the prevalence of Paranoid Personality Disorder is 2.3 % to 4.4 % of the US population and is more frequently diagnosed in males. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Risk Factors The DSM-5 indicates that a family history of Schizophrenia, or persecutory type delusional disorder are risk factors for Paranoid Personality Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Comorbidity The DSM -5 identifies the following conditions as comorbid: Other personality disorders, specifically, schizotypal, schizoid, narcissistic, avoidant, and borderline personality disorder. Substance abuse disorders, Major depressive disorder, OCD, and agoraphobia are also noted as conditions which can develop in conjunction with PPD (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)." All of this information was taken from https://www.theravive.com/therapedia/paranoid-personality-disorder-dsm--5-301.0-(f60.0) but I highly encourage you to meet with a mental health professional to determine if this is something you have.
(LPC, NCC, CEDS-S)
Answered on 10/18/2021

how I can not longer strangely with phonephobia ...?

  For one thing the problem that you are struggling with is fairly common. A very good treatment option is exposure therapy. It consists of several elements that I will lay out for you. I also suggest you work with a therapist. Applying these principles on your own will unlikely be successful as it is difficult to overcome the logical reasoning that developed this problem in the first place. Since you state that this is especially when dealing with males a male therapist would be a good choice. It may be difficult at first but you could begin your exposure treatment with a challenging aspect.  The there are two important elements to construct before beginning to expose yourself to what you dread. The first is to construct and practice using a reliable method to measure and determine the level of distress you are experiencing. This is named a SUDS. That stands for Subjective units of Distress Scale. Once you build this, it pays to practice using it until you can obtain a relatively accurate measure of the distress you are experiencing in the moment. The reasoning for this is so that you can see that by repeated exposing yourself to stressful situations, you can see it becomes less distressing. Having this information will compel you to continue and move forward.   Secondly, it is well to develop and practice distress tolerance skills. There are many choices here, many of them are mindfulness based. You may obtain and practice these on your own, but it is well to have someone outside of yourself monitoring their effectiveness. Our perspective from the inside might be biased, whereas an outside observer whom you trust, can provide a more accurate appraisal. This is another good reason to employ a therapist. They could be well versed on providing your skill set and seeing how well they work. Once you have these skills developed, you can begin the exposure treatment. Here the job is to create a hierarchy of activities that relate to using the phone. These could range from simply holding the phone and pretend you are using it, through calling a number you know only a machine would answer, all the way to calling a male whom you do not know. Here again a trained therapist would be helpful in created a list of activities that would start at the low end of distress and work you up to successfully facing this daunting task. I wish you the best, in going forward with exposing yourself to accomplishing this goal.  
(LMHC, LCMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do you know if transitioning, is the right thing to do?

Hello!!  Thank you so much for reaching out!!!  A lot of times, it can be difficult to understand what is going on with us, especially as it relates to gender identity and sexuality. People sometimes have difficulty due to what I identify as gender stereotypes- such as, girls are "supposed" to play with dolls. Or boys are "supposed" to play rough, and this sets a precedent that makes it difficult when a person is struggling with gender identity issues.   So, that being said, it will be helpful for you to look at your overall self-concept, especially as it relates to your staying " I just don't feel comfortable in my own skin".  It is not uncommon for someone struggling with low self-worth to say that; the key is, to start the work on healing from within so that you can start to discover who you really are. , To start the healing process, I believe a person gets great benefit from doing some dee; inner child work- thus involves loo, ingest the negative self-talk and other things that are contributing to your overall feelings of low self-worth.  Then, as you start to untwist that's faulty thinking, you can, with the guidance of a licensed, therapist, start to heal that child from within.  When I do inner ch8ld work with clients, I likely have then identified what age child anymore when they experience the most invalidation, the most abandonment, and any other trauma this is where we identify what it is that child needs, that they never got (I.e., love, support, validation, etc), and then you would think of and verbalize what that child- you as a child- needs from you to feel that they are worthy , loved, whole, and anything else that they need.  You would do an exercise in which you would go to that child- you as a child, and talk to them, validating them and telling them what is it that you are giving them. It's symboliic; is very beneficial; speak to them, telling them everything that you wanted to say.  This is a very powerful exercise, in that in that you are able to envision going to your child self, and heal that child, you as a child, so that you can start to grow..........
(MS, LPC/MHSP, NCC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I become more confident in myself and in social situations?

It can be so challenging to find our confidence, especially in situations where other people are involved! Add in the pandemic and isolation over the past year and a half, and it's okay to feel uncomfortable with the idea of being out and about again. I think that working on one's own self confidence is the long term goal, but in social situations, prepping ahead of time can be really effective as well. Think about it - when you give a presentation or a talk, you prep ahead of time, don't you? (And, if you don't, I want your tips on how to do this!). So, why not do this for those scary or anxiety provoking social situations as well?   This can look like practicing greetings and interactions in the mirror with your reflection, identifying a few conversation starters to take the pressure off in the moment, and learning and utilizing coping skills in the moment or right before walking in to decrease anxiety. It can also be really helpful to envision the entire situation, from getting ready to leaving to arriving to walking in. These visualization exercises help us rewire our brain to think of best case scenarios, rather than worst case! This is something that is super useful to talk about and focus on in therapy, and therapy is a great place to do this work and find ways to help you feel more comfortable!   Focusing on those immediate practice steps and coping skills will help you in the moment, but therapy is also a great place to delve deeper - where does the social anxiety come from? What triggers it? How long have you been feeling this way? By addressing the root of the issue, we can treat it fully from the inside out, so that instead of just being reactive and applying a bandaid of solutions in the moment, we cna be proactive and create a long term healing salve instead.  Having a multi-pronged approach is key to addressing fears and worries - and, is something that can be worked on at your own pace and when you're ready. BetterHelp has some great counselors that can help you in your journey!
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can i stop my repititive thoughts?

Dear Lily,   Thank you for your message.   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. You have done so well in noticing your worries, and make strategies to focus on what would be the likely outcome over what our imagined outcome is. Yet no matter how spiritually and mindfully mature we are, it is still inevitable that we experience feelings of fear, anxiety and grief at times. That is unfortunately what life brings us, however just as how you have noticed before, sufferings do make us wiser and stronger, and sometimes allow us to discover things that we would have never discover without sufferings.   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 of the Buddha 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.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to talking with you more :) Jono  
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I be healed from trichotillomania after 25 years of hair pulling? Can I be 100% pulling free

Dear Bati,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Why do I feel like I’m acting the whole time and struggling to be my true self

Depersonalization can be its own disorder, or a symptom of depression, drug use, or psychotropic medications. But when it occurs as a symptom of severe or prolonged stress and anxiety, experts agree that it's not dangerous, or a sign of psychosis, like many people fear. DDD symptoms generally fall into two categories: symptoms of depersonalization and symptoms of derealization. People with DDD can experience symptoms of just one or the other or both. Depersonalization symptoms include: feeling like you’re outside your body, sometimes as if you’re looking down on yourself from above feeling detached from yourself, as if you have no actual self numbness in your mind or body, as if your senses are turned off feeling as if you can’t control what you do or say feeling as if parts of your body are the wrong size difficulty attaching emotion to memories Derealization symptoms include: having trouble recognizing surroundings or finding your surroundings hazy and almost dreamlike feeling like a glass wall separates you from the world — you can see what’s beyond but can’t connect feeling like your surroundings aren’t real or seem flat, blurry, too far, too close, too big, or too small experiencing a distorted sense of time — the past may feel very recent, while recent events feel as if they happened long ago for many people, DDD symptoms are hard to put into words and communicate to others. This can add to feeling like you don’t exist or are simply “going crazy.” Close to 50 percent of adults in the United States will have an episode of depersonalization or derealization at some point in their lives, though only 2 percent meet criteria for a DDD diagnosis. What causes DDD? No one’s sure about the exact cause of DDD. But for some people, it seems to be linked to experiencing stress and trauma, especially at a young age. For example, if you grew up around a lot of violence or yelling, you may have mentally removed yourself from those situations as a coping mechanism. As an adult, you might fall back on these disassociating tendencies in stressful situations. Using certain drugs may also cause symptoms very similar to those of DDD in some people. These drugs include: hallucinogens MDMA ketamine salvia marijuana  
(M.Ed., LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Is there a cure for extreme emetophobia?

Hello, Most counselors will tell you yes. Any fear based phobia of any type can usually be overcome by a number of different types of counseling methods depending on what that phobia is. With this particular issue I would first like to know; what is it about vomiting that you fear the most? Is it that you may choke on it? Is it the feeling of it coming up? What is the fear exactly? My next question to you would be; what is the worst thing that could happen to you if you did vomit? You throw upright. No one as far as I am aware of, has ever died from vomiting. It is an automatic response from the body to try to get out something that does not agree with it. A way of releasing what it feels is poison or toxic to it.  I am also curious because you said it causes you a lot of anxiety. What about it makes you anxious? Is it more so when you are out and around town and less when you are at home? That would make more sense because of the fear of having to worry about having the feeling to vomit while in public. I get that. That's fair. Again, I would still ask you; what is the worst that can happen? Everyone and I mean everyone on the planet has vomited at least once in their life and they are still here. It's ok to have fears don't get me wrong. We all have fears and some make absolutely no sense as to why we have them. Our job is to figure out why and then concur that fear. That's what makes you stronger right. :-)  My approach to most fear based issues is to tell my client to confront the fear. It is an amazing feeling when you can confront the thing that scares you the most and you concur it. You feel like you can concur anything; most times.  I would also help the client to figure out where this fear came from because fear is just an emotion, it's not real, it's a feeling. An important one yes but still just a feeling. I hope this answers your question for you. Good luck! You can do this! I have faith in you!
(PhD, MA, LCSW, CACIII)
Answered on 10/18/2021

What are ways to help get over phobias, specifically bugs for me and high anxiety/paranoia

Hello! I am glad that you reached out! I am sorry that you have been experiencing this phobia. Your phobia would be best treated by seeing a Mental Health Professional who specializes in phobias. You would need to meet with a therapist and have a thorough evaluation to know exactly what you are experiencing and to get the proper treatment. Therapy can be an effective treatment for a host of mental and emotional problems, including anxiety and phobias. Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person can often make you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help. While it can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members, sometimes you need help that the people around you aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist or counselor can help. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally-trained listeners who can help you get to the root of your problems, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to benefit from therapy. Many people in therapy seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, or self-doubt, for example. Others turn to therapy during difficult times, such as a phobia. But in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to choose the right therapist—someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life. A good therapist helps you become stronger and more self-aware. Finding the right therapist will probably take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery. Therapy won’t be effective unless you have this bond, so take some time at the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to shop around and ask questions when interviewing potential therapists. I recommend that you seek a therapist that specializes in phobias. I wish you the best as you seek out proper treatment for your specific situation.
Answered on 10/18/2021

How to receive support for my delusions? Also how to stop delusions?

Hello! So glad you reached out and hope you will find this helpful.  The information I am going to provide is generally helpful to individuals who struggle with delusions and/or paranoid thoughts.  However, please keep in mind that I have minimal information about you and your specific situation and history.  I strongly encourage you to get the support of an ongoing therapist and/or seek a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation, if you are open to that, to help manage or reduce these stressful symptoms.  Struggling with psychosis can be terrifying and draining, to say the least!  First and foremost, our minds are very powerful.  Our thoughts and feelings influence our behavior and sometimes can feel so intense we make decisions based on thoughts or feelings alone!  With delusions and/or paranoia, our mind is in a sense "playing tricks on us" due to brain chemistry changes.  So it's as if we have one side of our brain as the "wise mind" that is aware of reality and what's going on and then we have the other side of our brain as the "trickster mind" that is trying to trick us and cast doubt and suspicions, etc.  It feels really real sometimes and can be hard to differentiate sometimes.  One coping skill clients have found helpful to manage delusions and associated anxiety and fear is called "reality testing."  This involves you finding one or more people you truly trust that you can openly talk about these thoughts/ideas with so they can support you to test reality and the "possibility" that your mind may be playing tricks on you. You can also work with a therapist in order to teach yourself how to reality test yourself.  One way is to ask yourself if it's "possible" that your trickster mind is activated, rather than your wise mind.  You can connect with the wise mind part of yourself and remind yourself that you are currently in a safe place and determine if it might be a possibility that it's just the trickster part of your mind playing tricks on you again.  These may sound oversimplified in writing, but these techniques have proven helpful to many individuals struggling with psychosis/delusions/paranoid thoughts.  I wish you hope and healing! 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How to overcome agoraphobia? In order to live life naturally. It became from epileptic seizure

How to overcome agoraphobia? In order to live life naturally. It became from epileptic seizure Based on your question, I would highly recommend that you see a professional counselor and or therapist to be assessed for an official diagnosis. A professional counselor and or therapist can support you in assessing your specific mental health needs in regards to your treatment goals. While there are great advantages of doing counseling online, such as ease of access, there are also some limitations. Once, you have been assessed properly and you would have received a thorough and full evaluation/assessment from a local professional counselor and or professional therapist. A professional counselor and or professional therapist in your local area can assess your current mental health concerns with you to see what triggers your symptoms of agoraphobia and assess what it looks like in your own words.  If your symptoms of agoraphobia are severe, a professional counselor and or professional therapist can provide you with a referral to a professional psychiatrist and or medical provider for a medication evaluation based on the medications that you are already taking. After you are assessed by a professional psychiatrist or medical provider your current prescription for medication in regards to your specific mental health needs may be altered in an effort to decrease or alleviate your current symptoms of agoraphobia. Medication can work quickly to begin relieving some of your symptoms of agoraphobia within around 14 days. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of your symptoms of agoraphobia once you receive an updated assessment of your current symptoms. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those individuals who only take the medication in regards to dealing with agoraphobia.   Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with symptoms of agoraphobia.  A professional counselor and or professional therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decrease your symptoms of agoraphobia. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, grounding techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery as a means of decreasing your symptoms of agoraphobia.   In an effort to decrease your symptoms of agoraphobia you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication, and determination to alleviate your symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. 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 you are having stressing out, feeling depressed, experiencing specific phobias, and or crying 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 at 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 in decreasing your symptoms of agoraphobia 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 and or professional therapist, medical provider, and or psychiatrist to continue to assess your medication management routine at this time. The help of a mental health professional counselor and or professional therapist can be quite beneficial in helping you to properly get a better understanding of your current symptoms of agoraphobia, as it can look different for everyone. Please remember that mental health is not one-size-fits-all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in reference to your symptoms of agoraphobia. Best regards to you!  
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 10/18/2021

I need an counselor right away.

There is no doubt in my mind that you would benefit from starting counseling as soon as possible given your symptoms.  However, if you are not taking medications there is also no doubt that you should be seeing a psychiatrist for either an initial evaluation for medications or for an assessment of the need to have your medication regimen adjusted.   You have a co-occurring mental health disorder of Post traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic.   We do not know for sure but it is likely that you have either schizoaffective disorder of the bipolar or depressed type or schizophrenia.  Either of these disorders may have psychoses as a part of their symptoms.  Since you haven't provided a full list of your symptoms, I cannot finalize a diagnosis for you until we meet and discuss your symptoms.  Your treatment will likely consist of counseling (EMDR, CBT, DBT and perhaps ACT), medications consisting of an antipsychotic and antidepressant, and ECT for the depression which it appears is not under control with medication.  ECT is generally used to treat pervasive and intensive depressive symptoms that cannot be controlled with medication.   I would want to use the EMDR for the trauma and depressive symptoms.  We would begin with EMDR container and calm place exercises followed by resourcing.  We may interweave the other Cognitive Behavioral Techniques with the EMDR.  We would do this being mindful of the types of symptoms you are having.  For instance, DBT can be used to initiate and maintain emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.  We would establish a baseline for these symptoms and apply the appropriate tools of DBT to achieve control of them.  Again, we would also be working with EMDR to manage the trauma as well as the depressiom and any other features of the psychotic symptoms.   I would recommend that you receive counseling weekly as we initiate treatment and reduce treatment to every other week after you have completed sufficient parts of treatment to bring emotions, distress, and interpersonal effectiveness into an ability to self initiate skills to effectuate mastery and control of these at least 50% of the time.  You will be immediately referred to a psychiatrist for psychiatric evaluation, medication prescribing, and monitoring, and assessment of the need and frequency of ECT.  You will learn self practice skills and practice same daily.
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Why am I being paranoid

Dear Elisse,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Fear of loss is what I might think about when it comes to anxiety in relation to loss or change, especially failures. We are scared of losing the ones that we love, losing our health, losing what we treasure, losing our relationships, losing our success and potential. Being scared of losing make us feel anxious and often we would act impulsively on these fear.   "Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." ~Norman Cousins   Of all the things that scare us, the loss can seem like the most terrifying. At times, I've thought about it with such dread that it's felt overwhelming.   Whenever I quit a job I hated in that past, I felt stuck between two loss-related fears: the fear of losing my passion by staying, and the fear of losing my financial security if I walked away and didn't find something else.   Whenever I considered leaving a bad relationship, I felt paralyzed by two similar fears: the fear of losing my chance at fulfillment by staying, and the fear of losing the comfort of companionship if I walked away and didn't find someone else.   I haven't only worried about the potential for loss as it pertains to big decisions. I've worried about losing people I love, pleasures I enjoy, and circumstances that feel comfortable. I've dreaded losing my youth, my health, and my sense of identity.   And then there are the everyday losses: If I don't do this, will I lose someone's respect? If I don't do that, will I lose my own? If I don't go, will I lose some of yet unknown opportunities? If I don't stay, will I lose my sense of comfort and security?   I might even go so far as to say that whenever I fear something, loss is at the root of it. I suspect I'm not alone.   We buy things we don't need (or groupons we won't use) because a sale's ending soon. We grab an item of clothing because there's only one left and someone else might take it-even if we aren't really sure we want it. We keep gym memberships we aren't actively using if we know we won't be able to get that same rate again.   And then there are the bigger things.   We turn down opportunities that could be rewarding to avoid the risk of losing something else that feels good enough. We use our time in ways that feel unfulfilling because we fear losing time on a decision that might be wrong. And we fail to invest in ourselves, even though we're aching to expand, because it can feel painful to part with our money.   We can't ever know for certain that a risk will payoff, but we can choose to recognize when the fear of loss motivates our actions, and make a conscious effort to overcome it. If we don't, it can severely limit our potential for growth, happiness, and fulfillment.   Overcoming the Fear of Loss   I first recognized this fear, and it's associated irrational thoughts and behaviors, when I felt devastated after someone I wanted to break up with broke up with me first.   I realized I didn't make the decision myself because I preferred a bad (even abusive) relationship to being single. I also understood that I would have been far less affected if I'd made the choice to walk away, and that my feelings completely transformed because I felt out of control-like I lost something, and it wasn't my choice.   Since then, I've developed a little system for identifying this fear when it takes hold-and a few practices for overcoming it so that it doesn't overcome me.   1. Ask yourself, "What am I scared of losing?"   This may seem like an obvious question, but I've learned that it's all too easy to go through our days, making choices, without recognizing the underlying feelings that motivate them.   Whenever you have a choice to make, recognize in what way you're motivated by the fear of losing something, whether it's comfort, security, control, money, companionship, or something else.   Once you understand what you're scared of losing, you can…   2. Ascertain if you're seeing the whole picture.   There was a time when I worked 60+ hours/week to hold onto a job I didn't even want. I was the last remaining employee after a massive layoff, but I didn't feel ready to lose that job.   After several months of working long hours from home, I realized I'd never feel ready. It wasn't until I finally got laid off that I started planning for this site.   My logic was faulty-that it was best to stay with the sure thing, because I wasn't ready to do something else-because the reality was that I needed the time and space to figure out that something else.   In other words, loss was necessary to set me up for gain; it wasn't the other way around.   If you're making a decision, or avoiding making a decision, based on the fear of what you might lose, ask yourself if you're losing more by not doing what you really want to do.   When you attempt to see beyond the fear, you're better able to recognize if you're keeping yourself stuck-and if you'd benefit from letting go of what you think you need.   3. Use loss aversion as motivation to pursue what you really want.   My mentor once suggested that we can benefit from the fear of loss by charting our progress toward a goal. Just as we don't want to lose time and money, we don't want to lose momentum.   If you hang a large calendar on your wall, and put a star on every day when you do something positive-like exercise, practice a new hobby, or send out a resume for a new job-you'll create a psychological need to keep that streak going.   She said to me, "Your disappointment in seeing a day without a gold star is greater than your happiness at any single day's work."   Of course, you have to know what you really want first. That takes time and patience for us to reflect and think with our imagination, not logics.   4. Regularly assess your intentions and motivations.   This ties into the last one. Sometimes we think we want something because we've wanted it for years-and then we feel scared to lose that dream and all its related rewards.   But sometimes, as we grow and learn about ourselves and the world, our wants change.   A friend of mine racked up massive debt studying law, only to realize a couple years into her career that it didn't fulfill her as she hoped it would. She'd built her whole life around this possibility-and she had close to $100,000 in student loans.   She could easily have felt stuck, as if she'd lose too much if she walked away. But she did anyways. She moved to Chile and became a Pilates teacher, and though she ultimately realized she'd need to return to law for a while longer to pay off her debt, she's released the emotional fears associated with pursuing a different path.   And because she's experienced the joy of doing something else, she now has a compelling motivation to do it again: She knows what she stands to gain is greater than what she stands to lose.   If you're forcing yourself to do something and a part of you feels it isn't right, ask yourself, "Do I actually want this right now?" There's a chance you do, and you're just feeling frustrated and discouraged-but there's also a chance you don't anymore. Only you can know for sure what you really want.   5. Change how you see the inevitability of loss.   The reality is that loss is inevitable.   We will all lose relationships, situations, and states of being that we enjoy and love. Even if we practice non-attachment, on some level we will get comfortable with people and circumstances.   You could say that this is what makes life beautiful and meaningful-since nothing lasts forever, each moment presents unique possibilities worth fully appreciating and savoring.   Or you could say this is what makes life tragic-that everything is fleeting, and eventually it all slips away.   How we choose to see things dictates how we'll experience them. Would you rather see everything as precious or pointless?   If we can choose the former, we can recognize that every loss provides opportunities for future gains-new relationships, experiences, and ways of being that may fulfill us in ways we can't possibly predict.   Of course, this can only happen if we trust in our ability to recognize and create these new connections and situations. We all have the potential to do it.   Some losses feel devastating when we experience them-and sometimes, the gain isn't proportionate to the loss.   But somehow, we survive in the wake of almost every storm. Whether we thrive is up to us. That's a choice we need to make proactively, not in response to what we fear, but in response to what we genuinely want to feel and do in this life.   So I leave you with this question: Why are you afraid of losing? And are you ready to trust in yourself and your abilities so that you can get unstuck?   The answer could be no to this question. It is absolutely acceptable to acknowledge our fears and be honest with ourselves if we don’t feel ready to change. We are all humans and that means we have a right to not be perfect. There is no judgement. We are all in this together.   Looking forward to learn your thoughts, thank you for your trust. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021