Trauma Answers

How do I let go in order to reduce the anxiety, hurt and sadness?

Hello HC .... thank you for your message and your question. Letting go of the pain of betrayal can be one of the most challenging things we can ever be asked to do. In addition to the betrayal, you might also be feeling a sense of loss of the relationship that you thought was solid. So, how to let go. 1. First, I would want to ask you if there is any hope for reconciliation? Does the person who lied to you and embarrassed you express any kind of remorse? Is he asking for an opportunity to make things right? I am not suggesting that you "should" give him that chance. I am just wondering if that is even an option. If it is an option, the steps you might take now will be different than the steps you would take if reconciliation was not an option. If reconciliation IS an option, it would be important for this other person to take responsibility for the hurt he caused without blaming anyone else. He chose these behaviors and no matter what else might have been going on, these were his choices. He would need to be willing to own them and create a plan to ensure it would not happen again. On your side, you would need to be willing to gradually let go of the negative thoughts and feelings that you have about him and his behavior. Letting go would be important to rebuilding the relationship.  2. Let's just assume that rebuilding the relationship is not an option. I think what you are asking, then, is how do I heal my heart so I can move on with my life. I am not going to suggest that this is an easy process because we all know it is not. On the other hand, it is possible to heal and to do so without adding additional pain to the process. There is an approach called radical acceptance. In short, radical acceptance means that we acknowledge that something has happened that we don't like. This something that has happened is painful. We allow ourselves to say: "This thing that has happened is very painful. I don't like how this feels. I wish this would not have happened." Or anything along this line. This is simply being honest with ourselves that we are unhappy with what has happened. By being honest with ourselves, we are not trying to ignore our feelings or pretend that this thing has not bothered us. It is okay to feel sorrow over a lost relationship and anger about a betrayal. These are normal feelings and radical acceptance means that we are willing to acknowledge both the reality of what has happened and the feelings that go with it. Radical acceptance also means that we realize that we cannot go back and change anything about the past. We cannot change or control other people. This is the hard part because we frequently want to be able to rewind the tape and go back and make things turn out differently. But, we can't. The more we fight the facts and the feelings of a situation, the worse we feel. Radical acceptance means we acknowledge the facts and we show a willingness to tolerate the feelings that go with the facts. We need to be able to tolerate uncomfortable feelings. Feelings are normal and they don't last forever. We make ourselves feel worse when we fight our feelings. In addition to accepting that this thing has happened that we don't like and accepting the idea that we are going to have some unpleasant feelings for a while, radical acceptance means that we turn our attention to our values and we align our behavior to our values. It would sound something like this (example only): "I hate that this breakup happened. I am honestly miserable. I don't like the feelings of betrayal and anger. I also know that I cannot change any of what has happened. I cannot control these other people who hurt me. What I can control is how I respond to this unpleasant situation. I still want to show up in the world as the best version of myself that I can be. For that reason, I am going to (fill in the blank) because that would be in accordance with my values, who I am, and what I stand for." I frequently talk to people (and actually myself as well) about the "bag of rocks." The bag of rocks represents the anger and resentments that we carry around with us after being hurt in some way. Just visualize yourself carrying a huge bag slung over your back. The bag is filled with heavy rocks. This big bag of rocks is hurting only one person -- you. The other people don't even know you are carrying the bag. You will be doing yourself a huge favor if you will practice radical acceptance so that you can put down the big bag of rocks. You might only be able to put down one rock at a time. Imagine each rock represents one individual behavior that these people did that resulted in your painful feelings. Maybe you can just pick one rock at a time and say to yourself, "I am going to let go of this one rock because it is not helping me at all to hold on to it." It is important to remember that letting go of the anger, the pain, the resentments does not mean that you or anyone else is saying that what happened is okay or acceptable. It is never okay for one person to betray another person. So you are not condoning what happened. By letting go, you are simply saying, "I don't want to carry these rocks around with me any more." And, if anyone suggests to you that you "need to forgive" these people, please remember that forgiveness is something only you can decide to do or not do. That is entirely up to you. If you do decide to forgive, you will do that on your timetable, if at all. And finally remember that forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not them. It is essentially you letting go of that big bag of rocks so you are not in pain any more. I hope this was somewhat helpful. You can learn more about radical acceptance by just Googling it. Thank you for reading my response! I wish you well. Judi
Answered on 01/22/2023

How can I grieve my mom in a healthy way? what strategies or activities can I do to help me healing?

Loss. When we lose someone like you've lost your mom, it is devastating for many reasons. It's like your mind tries to find all the ways it is suffering now that your mom isn't alive anymore. The circumstance around your loss tells me you may have suffered twice, the abruptness of mom's death and then not even being able to have the funeral. Now, the time has passed, and the world has moved on, yet your mind remains stuck in the past. You are struggling to move on; I suspect it is because you might be scared to let go.  Your mom meant so much to you that even the pain of the last two weeks of her life could be better than the thought of letting go and putting yourself at risk of forgetting. I think we are all familiar that when we move on from someone, they become a distant memory. I don't think you want that for her. You want your mom to be remembered. You are the youngest, and you want to carry on that legacy of her, those memories of when she was alive, and it hurts.  You recall the support mom gave you. How close you were. Death reminds us of life. Your experience with your mom has now become all you have because death reminded you that she isn't here anymore, and you have to continue on because the alive version of her would have wanted you to. But you don't know what you don't know, so you ask for help.  You tell yourself that you shouldn't be doing what you are doing, feeling as sad as you have been, and crying is inappropriate. You tell yourself what not to do next to some measurement of what you should do. The question is, given the circumstance, what SHOULD you do here? How does one move on? Take a minute to answer that question, what is your mind telling you, you should do?  Often people tell me that their mind tells them what not to do, but then they aren't given any clarity or insight as to what to do. When it comes to pain, loss, grief, depression, and even loss of identity or purpose, we are best to realize the full extent of the situation we are in and instead of trying to fix or turn from it, look at it in the eye. I am talking about fear, loneliness, and sadness; these emotions fuel you to act and think the way you do. If you want to change anything, even cope, you have to acknowledge these emotions and think on what they convince you of, what image or thought you get that gets you to define your situation as painful.  A few tips:  1. Radical acceptance is not agreement. Accept your situation, therefore, acknowledge the sadness and reality of your situation.  2. Practice noticing thoughts, sitting with them, and asking what they want. Sit with the thoughts that tell you you are sad or nervous and be with them.  3. When you notice a thought, resist the urge to be taken down that pathway of thought. I know familiar pain can seem more enticing than the scary and unfamiliar, but it isn't. Get accustomed to being uncomfortable. It will be uncomfortable for you to turn down the familiar pathway of your painful thinking and the images it produces.  4. Not indulging the thoughts pain provokes, is the start of letting go of the situation with your mom; she would have wanted that. I say that she would have because you seem like a loyal child and loyal children have authentic parents. An authentic parent would want their kids to do whatever it took to move on. Your mom would not want you to withdraw from life because you were holding on to the last bits of her life. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, we all end up this way.  5. Be honest with yourself, and your thoughts, and start to acknowledge what you are feeling, thinking, and wanting in life. Be honest, no matter how it sounds. Be honest with where your emotions are. Are you mad at all?  Look, give credit to the grieving body; it is getting your attention. Your body is telling you that you cannot handle much right now, so you better withdraw from life because you are fragile. The earlier you notice these thoughts and beliefs about yourself, the more you can trust and love and be grateful for what you have been given, a life full of real situations, mom included, meant to shape and mold you. Just think, mom would have probably gladly given her life if it meant that you finally got to live yours. Her death will not only be memorialized in your heart, but your experience with her will also be right there with you as long as you live. Because of that, you don't have to hold on to pain anymore. Notice you hanging on to the past and letting go. Cope by making space for these emotions and giving yourself permission to experience them, all the while you continue to do the things you want in life. Don't let the emotions take you out. 
Answered on 01/18/2023

How do I deal with traumas so that I can have strong relationships and marriage?

Healing from trauma is a process that can vary from person to person. The most important part of healing from trauma is to address the shame trauma can place on us. Often times, when we go through a major trauma, we start to think that we deserved it or that we've been ruined because of the terrible thing we experienced. Healing from trauma means we need to look at this terrible experience through a perspective of compassion and understanding.  Healing from trauma can also look like being vulnerable with people we trust. Not necessarily with the details of our trauma, but with the details of our feelings after we've gone through the trauma. If we can become more comfortable communicating our boundaries with our partners and friends, we develop more emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is one of the ways we heal from trauma, because if we're able to give our vulnerable selves to others should receive affirmation that we are loved. However, our present can often be filled with people who also have trauma, and because of this they also struggle with receiving and understanding the emotional intimacy we might give them. That's why learning to communicate effectively with boundaries ties in very closely to successful trauma work. By learning to set boundaries in your personal life while working independently on building confidence and self-compassion, you build yourself up in a more rounded way. It's difficult to feel loved after trauma if our relationships are hurting and it's hard to help our relationships when our trauma is drowning us. It makes sense to work on them together. If we bundle boundaries and self-compassion together, we also need to bundle it with understanding where we came from. Being able to look at our parents and where they came from gives us objective information that we can utilize to help separate the traumatic event from our brain in the present. Once you're able to do separate the event in the past to the you in the present, traumas become linked to the past where they belong and you'll soon find, with treatment, you're better at living in the present.
Answered on 01/07/2023

How do I not allow the negative things that comes out of my mothers mouth to affect me? I’m 35

When we have grown up with significant negative communication, especially when we are within the ages of 5-10, those words really help in creating our own inner voice that we hear consistently. Those negative words and way of thinking of ourselves becomes as natural to us as breathing. However, it does not mean that we have to continue to have that way of looking at ourselves and thinking of ourselves. We can work to take those thoughts, I refer to them as Automatic Negative Thoughts, and replace them with first more realistic thoughts and the work to get to a place of positivity.  One of the first things that we do is work to set some healthy boundaries with the person that has triggered us to feel this way. There is a mentality that exists that just because someone is family we have to allow them in our lives no matter how they treat us or leave us feeling and that is both unhealthy and unreasonable. We have the right and ability to create separation with those that bring us down and leave us feeling less than what we really are. It can be a hard thing to create that separation, but in doing so you are creating a healthy environment for both you and your child.  Second we have to really look at the things that we are thinking and identify them. When we identify the thoughts, such as “I am not good enough” we then have to look at a realistic alternative such as “I am worthy as a person no matter what others say”. Working through the main negative thoughts that we are experiencing, and really working to create that more realistic alternative to each one allows us to start creating a healthier foundation for how we look at ourselves. Once we create this list we have to work each day to focus in on these alternatives and reiterate their truth. It does not happen overnight but the more we put the healthier thoughts into our minds the more true they become.  During these times, it is also really important to make sure that we have a healthy support network of people that are putting positivity into us if that’s possible. We don’t all have a huge network but one or two people that you can communicate with and that you feel good around and that help uplift you is really healthy and beneficial.  Overall we have to remember we did not get to this place overnight so it can take time. But putting in the work to transition the lens we look at ourselves through is very healthy and worth it. 
Answered on 01/05/2023

How do I cope better because my coping mechanisms aren’t working anymore?

Off the Mark As the title of this passage indicates, you have found coping skills that worked before don't anymore. Has anything changed in your life to lead to this conclusion that they aren't working anymore? What do you notice about yourself and your situation, or have your thoughts on things changed? It's an obvious statement, but though we sometimes perceive the world and our place in it as stagnant, it is constantly changing, and it's best we do as well.  What we do with change is not try to apply old mechanisms on new things but to work on stepping back from the entire war that is being played out at our expense. We get dragged into this push and pull and feel the only way to manage is to participate in this battle every day. We wake up and feel stressed because we believe something about ourselves and others, our environment, and what it takes to survive in that environment. We believe that stress or being stressed or anxious is how to stay vigilant and productive. In reality, we believe our thoughts too much that tell us something is or isn't working.  I asked the initial questions if anything in your life has changed. It is an exciting phenomenon when people's environments change, and they don't recognize that they did. Our mind is meant to see patterns and fill them in without noticing a difference. The reality is your old "coping" does still work just as well as it did before, but you have changed, and now you need to change how you perceive what "successfully managing" your mental health looks like.  The first thing to do is to practice the awareness of yourself, the internal self, however. In his book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl talks about being a prisoner in the concentration camps in WWII. He talks about laying there one night, realizing that all he had, his family, career, clothes, and a full belly of food, had been taken from him. He realized that no matter what the outside could take from him, they couldn't take his inner values. This provided him with overwhelming peace because he still got to live for the one thing satisfied people live for, their purpose.  The purpose is not driven by good days or bad days but by the desire to accomplish what you set out to do. However, your accomplishment in values-based living is not always measurable or an observable goal, but it is like a direction that you head towards, never fully complete. For example, I value being transparent and wanting to see that in others because I know it provides peace and energy when people are. I practice this every day and ask other people to do it as well. I ask people reflective questions and give them the room to say anything they don't otherwise put into words. This helps people to get to know themselves and get to sit with who they really are, not what their minds tell them they are.  Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your mental health interfering with, merely your peace? Why do you let it, and what stops you from accepting it and learning to live with it and saying that this is your life, it is not good or bad, it is yours, and you own all aspects of it? When you buy a house, you also buy all the house's problems. These are just as much yours as anything. Having gone through life, our mind and thinking are no different; they all make up you. No one thing is you, and no one thing will make you "better" than how you see yourself and your situation.  Do yourself a favor and drive all of this pain into a purpose. Pain without purpose is suffering. Find meaning in it all. Otherwise, you will constantly be held to the belief that you will not find the elusive contentment until.... (fill in the blank). 
Answered on 12/29/2022

How to reduce excessive anxiety and sadness?

Hello! Thanks for reaching out for support. Anxiety and sadness are not easy to deal with!  Although anxiety and sadness are both normal human emotions, it sounds like you feel you experience these feelings "excessively" or with high intensity and/or frequency and it is causing distress and interfering with your participation in daily activities.  You have taken a very important step seeking information and support and that tells me you may be ready to prioritize your mental wellness. In general, we tend to experience strong feelings of anxiety when we allow our thoughts to ruminate, usually about something we're worried about that hasn't happened yet (in the future) and sometimes something that has already happened (in the past).  There are several coping skills (tools) you can learn by working with a therapist to help reduce these thoughts and/or feelings and manage the anxiety, although it may never completely go away.  Some techniques involve physically relaxing the body through breathing, physical activity such as yoga, walking or progressive muscle relaxation, or grounding techniques involving one or more of our five senses in order to bring us back to focus on the present moment (the here and now).  Once a person has developed some basic coping skills, they can have a discussion with the therapist if they feel it would be beneficial to process/address any deeper issues, belief systems, or past traumatic experiences. As for sadness and crying, these would be treated in a similar manner.  A therapist would help you explore what these thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you, as usually there is some type of unmet need(s). In general, some coping skills you may learn to improve your mood may be journaling, art, behavioral activation, increasing social supports, etc.  There may also be some unhelpful thinking patterns that a person is not aware of and a therapist will help the person to identify these, challenge these, and see things from other perspectives. It's also important (for either anxiety or depression/excessive sadness) to establish and maintain a routine so there is some consistency and structure in your day-to-day life.  This is easier said than done but can be very beneficial.  Of course, these are general responses without knowing much about your symptoms or situation.  I wish you the best on your healing journey and hope you find a therapist to work with that you feel comfortable and a connection to. 
Answered on 12/29/2022

How can I avoid a dissociative reaction to a trauma trigger?

First I want to start with encouraging you and noting how great it is that you have reached out to really look for some insight and help with this situation. Dissociation is a hard thing for us to experience and can leave us feeling like we are completely out of control in our own lives and what we have going on. This is one of the stressors that we can really be in a place to need to process through and work with a therapist as it can be really overwhelming and leave us with a great deal of additional stress in our lives. Knowing that there is a history of PTSD present, the trauma that we have experienced can be re-triggered when we are working through dissociation and it can really be a hard thing for us to manage.  There are some skills that we can work on implementing into our daily lives to allow us to remain more present and aware of what is going on in our lives so that we do not dissociate. We call these grounding skills and they are meant to just keep us present and focused on what is actually going on around us. One of the top skills for this is called the countdown method, which works to engage all of your senses in the moment so that you can remain present. This is done by just closing your eyes for 15-20 seconds and then when you open your eyes, identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This takes a few moments tops, but it is something that really gets you focused in the moment. Working to practice this skill 1-2 times each day when you are calm allows it to become something that you do naturally and so when you start to notice that you are elevated it comes so much more naturally for you to be able to utilize this as a skill that helps you to really calm down.  Once we have developed some of these skills, we also have to be more aware of the things that are triggering us to become elevated and emotional so that we can be conscious of what things might lead us to dissociation. Working to take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to process through your day and look at what things elevated you, so you can be more aware of the things that are harder for you to manage. We have to have the insight into what things are elevating us so that we can be in a place to feel more prepared to manage them.  Finally working to just communicate with the people that are important and close to you in life so that they can offer the support that you need during this time is really important. We need to feel supported while we are working through these kind of stressors and struggles. Pairing family and friend support along with therapy can really help to get through this situation and be in a place to have less dissociation and feel more in control of your own life. 
Answered on 12/28/2022

How do I create a healthy "split" family with my young adult children?

Rebuilding For whatever it's worth, in your summary of recent life events and the identified toll it is taking on you, I must say you are likable. As odd as that seems to start the answer, I think it is essential that people know through how they choose to present themselves and their situation if it is read with favor for the person or if the conversation needs to change to accountability. For you, you have been wronged but seem to accept that wrong happens. You have every reason to be hurt, angry, resentful, and bitter, but bitter doesn't want a family that has hurt her back, even if it is the ideal version she imagines when she wishes for it.  How You Remember the Past Isn't Real I must note that what your mind is telling you isn't true. As hard as this is, as much as you want to hold on to the past and cling to that as the idea, it wasn't. I cannot admit I would have been able to say that in person, not like that and not this soon in a meeting. However, it would be best if you moved on so that you do not get bogged down by a false narrative from the past that things were ever as good as you imagined.  Hurt has a way of activating a retrospective look at life, covering the nuances that weren't so favorable. Hurt stimulates what we have lost, what could have been, but rarely allows us to see things as they really were. The phrase hindsight is 20/20 comes from this reality. You remember a family that never was; now, it is the anchor bogging you down. If the "whole" family would have been good and not on the road to where it went, it wouldn't be here today. In other words, there were underlying things that may have been missed in him, you, both, that would not have allowed for a continued relationship.  Adult Children Your adult kids should want to see you doing well. Since you being in their life is a primary concern, why would you think they wouldn't want to be in your life or that you are somehow not worthy of that? Does your ex-husband present a better narrative? Do they support you? Do they like your Ex because he blames you or something? Your adult children have options where to spend their time, and where do you think they will spend it, taking care of mom and her emotions or around a father who did wrong but can carry a conversation?  Sadness has its place here, and mourning for a loss is crucial.  However, it does seems like you may be digging a deep hole of despair, possibly because of the man you are with now. You have found comfort, you say, but he is not what you want. Despite him being a "comfort," you aren't very comfortable. I believe you are going about the divorce improperly by seeking comfort instead of letting go and mourning your loss of identity in the marriage. Comfort allows you to hold on to old beliefs about yourself and your family that are no more. There are assumptions I have to make for the sake of the question. What I have seen in your question is much hurt, accountability, and a realistic view of the future. With your foundation of insight, I think you will move on from this just fine if you start allowing what has happened to you to no longer be the reason you aren't happy. What has happened is tragic and unfair; you were wronged. However, in a marriage, there are two parties responsible for making it work; what do you think you can do to work on yourself so that you can grow and find yourself happy for others when they make choices you disagree with?  I do not know your current relationship with your children. However, children tend to go where they are accepted. Even adult children must be accepted for who they are, their autonomous persons, not just the children of their parents. This means that our adult children may say and do things that we disagree with, but they do so as an opportunity to figure out who they are, where their boundaries are, where they stop, and others start. Being a parent, you can listen to their lives as though you are the most curious person in the world, removing any preference or judgment. Your relationship from what has happened isn't necessarily affected. However, how you manage yourself from here on will influence their involvement in your life. Again, they won't want to hear if you are sad and mopey or talk about their father often. Learning more about your children would be best. I suspect that if you hold your previous family in nostalgia, you hold your children similarly. But neither the family nor the children are the same today as it was; it is better. As wild as it sounds, have you allowed the children to grow up in your mind? If so, what are they like, their interests, etc.? Like the family you once had, there has to be a letting go of what our mind tells us and practice of being present and accepting current reality.  Do not be scared to talk about any topic; get used to being uncomfortable, and the belief that you need to correct the wrongs must be eliminated. No more thoughts from the past; they are hurting you. The rest of your life is waiting. A therapist can give you that space to talk through some things without getting burned out, as family and friends can. However, a good therapist will hold you accountable and ask what you can do now to help the future you recover from this. 
Answered on 12/27/2022

Is it possible to move past trauma?

Hi Connie, That is a complicated answer.  If the goal is for the effects of the trauma to go away and the person to be healed to the point they were before the trauma took place then the answer is no, that will never happen.  If the goal is for the person to heal and grow from the trauma to the point where they are stronger than they were before and the voices of the trauma were in the background like white noise, then that is achievable.   First, there are the memories of the trauma which like most memories will fade over time, but will still be in our recall.  What makes that even more true is because of the nature of trauma either our brain will block events out or they will be vividly seared into our conscience recall.  This is not all a negative because part of the healing process will be to reframe the events, however negative they may have been, into a powerful tool of strength which can motivate moving forward, and can help others.  From a memory standpoint, talking about the trauma can desensitize a person to the traumatic past memories much in the way if we put our hands in hot water after a while the water will be less warm and we will be less sensitive to it. Second, there is the part of the trauma that impacts every other part of our being.  This is the part which causes a person to have a quickened startled response, hypervigilance, and sensitivity towards the sense which can make a person momentarily feel like they are back in the midst of the trauma.  The negative emotions from the event can be like a poison which settles into the subconscious and different portions of the body.  There are many tools which can help treat trauma on a subconscious somatic level such as EMDR, Brain Spotting, Nuerofeedback, and ACT.  When a person is suddenly triggered to have an emotional response that does not fit the context of the situation, it can often be due to the residue of trauma.  These strategies help process the negative emotions and residue in such a way that helps to unlock the trauma residue and allow the person to move forward.  The Body Keeps The Score by Bessal van der Kolk is a book I would highly recommend.  It has helped transform the treatment of trauma to explore the emotions and feelings of trauma and how to process them rather than just telling the story. Those who go through the healing journey from trauma are heroes, because it is not an easy road.  When a person goes through the process of healing through trauma, they often feel worse before they feel better.  The transformation thought of trauma from a poison which causes hurt to a powerful healing tool, is worth the journey.
Answered on 12/23/2022

What are some sustainable copping methods to deal with depression/ addiction

Hi there! I wanted to thank you for reaching out for support through BetterHelp. It takes a lot of courage to seek help, and you should be proud of yourself for doing so! I wanted to preface this by saying that I am answering this question based on the information you have provided. If we were meeting for a therapy session, I would want to ask clarifying questions to gather more information about your situation. However, I am only given the information above. I apologize if I have misunderstood anything. First of all, I wanted to encourage you for your sobriety. It is such a significant milestone to be sober for three years - that is amazing! I know you must have put so much work into this (and still are putting in the work). I am sorry to hear that you have experienced trauma during the recovery process, and I would definitely want to know more about the trauma if we were meeting. I do want to acknowledge that, and I can imagine the trauma makes it harder (especially while in recovery from addiction). I also want to let you know that it is very normal for things to be fresh and new at the beginning of recovery. I am sure it has gotten harder as time has gone by and you have experienced different life stressors come up. It is true that addiction can be a way to cope with life stressors, so you are certainly figuring out what other healthy coping skills work for you so that you can maintain recovery. I would definitely try to keep in mind that you have done hard things (such as conquering addiction), and you can continue to get through hard things! Sometimes, it can help to try to remember positive mantras as a way to cope with depression, anxiety, or other things like these. It sounds like you are interested in learning about different coping skills for addiction and depression. Often times, coping skills can work for both addiction and depression (and anxiety, other mental illnesses, etc..). I would first encourage you to think about hobbies or interests that you may have had in the past (or now). Are there things that you enjoyed doing in the past that you may have stopped doing as much lately? Try to write out a list of those things, and then see if those could be helpful and if you would be able to do these right now. I would also encourage you to try journaling as a coping skill. Journaling can be so therapeutic, because it allows you to get out your thoughts and feelings onto paper (or typing). Try not to judge yourself and just allow it to flow freely. You can also work with a therapist to make connections between the things you are journaling about. Other ideas of coping skills include: exercising, going for walks, listening to calming music, cooking a nice meal, taking a warm bath, praying, meditating, playing a sport, window shopping, going for a ride, taking deep breaths ... the list goes on and on. Try to maybe pick one or two coping skills you would be interested in trying over the next week. Then, see how these coping skills affect your depression levels. Try to pin down the ones that help your depression the most, and then try to incorporate those more into your routine. I would also encourage you to reach out to your support systems when possible. It could help to look into different groups in your area to be able to meet new friends - particularly focused on those who also may be in recovery. It could help to have people in your circle who can relate and understand addiction/recovery. I would also encourage you to consider starting therapy to work through the trauma, addiction, and depression pieces. There are options of individual and group therapy - I think either one could be beneficial for you, from what you have shared. I want to thank you again for reaching out for support and I wish you the best on your journey :)
Answered on 12/18/2022

how do I get rid of feeling defective?

How do I get rid of feeling defective? Hello, Thank you for reaching out. Often times when we never talk about childhood trauma or situations that are hard on us, we carry around so many stressors and past issues we begin to feel like we are somehow defective. We have to be able to change the way that we receive the information that is being presented to us. If you're feeling defective being able to pinpoint exactly where those reactions come from, identify how they make you feel and then begin to change how you think about it. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy we learn how we perceived the (event/trigger), then there are normally feelings that are attached to that and after a while of think about the feelings we then react to a situation. That reaction can be positive or negative but often times it leads people to withdraw from others, self sabotage, act out of anger, etc. Once we break that cycle of how we respond to things then we can begin to shift our focus and thought process to more positive ones.  When you grow up In an environment where love is on conditions, you may always be in flight or fight mode which can lead to becoming hypervigilant about many things in one's life. Being able to handle emotions and stay in a neutral state of being is going to be key to the progress that is being made in this scenario. You also have the right to place boundaries around how others are making you feel and if they are not bringing anything positive in your life then you can make the choice to choose your peace. When we have to learn ways to get love then it is not unconditional love and to have had to experience this must be very difficult to have dealt with.  Expecting to disappoint others can be combated by redefining what those expectations are and if healthy boundaries need to be in place. Can make us feel like we are lonely and afraid, and not being able to find friends are valid concerns to have.  Being able to unpack these things in therapy is a way that you can work on beginning to overcome and heal from some of the things that have impacted you. You can always begin to journal your thoughts. You can freelance journal or rely on prompts to help you get started.  Hope this helps! 
Answered on 12/13/2022

Why do I operate from a place of fear?

Hello, Your question is great, and honestly, it's one that many people ask themselves. I can't answer it for you. Determining where all of this comes from is important though--and this isn't to say that therapy should be largely focused on the past, but likely there have been some experiences that have contributed to the challenges you're facing today. So, I would want to know where this fear stems from, what your childhood was like, what beliefs you developed about yourself, and others, and the world around you. I would want to know what your support system is like and if and how you have been hurt by others.  As someone who works a lot with clients who have experienced trauma, I would take a look at what trauma (if any) you may have experienced. Many people who experienced the world as a scary place. They lose trust in others, feel weak, are overly critical of themselves, etc. Of course, it's also quite possible you haven't experienced any trauma, but if you have, I would suggest trying EMDR therapy. Regardless of whether you have experienced trauma, it's important to look at your overall belief system. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is the most common therapy modality for anxiety and mood disorders today, focuses on identifying what's called your "self-talk". Paying attention to what you tell yourself about yourself and the situations you encounter can help establish patterns. It can help you explore what lens you tend to look through when viewing yourself, others, and your environment. Therapy can help you to examine these thoughts and then, once identifying what thinking may be irrational, to look at how to practice replacing that maladaptive thinking with healthier ways of thinking.  So, I certainly can't answer your question, but I hope my response at least gives you an idea of how you could approach the question. Whether you choose to engage in therapy on this platform or somewhere else, I encourage you to give it a try. It can be helpful to receive that support when encountering so much fear, and you may need some help identifying what's behind all of this. And you need to hear, not just from myself or others, but from yourself, that you absolutely do deserve to be who you are, and you do deserve to live.  Take care, Nicholas DeFazio, MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC
Answered on 12/07/2022

How do I stop getting upset when I have to speak about the past? Possible PTSD?

Hello Lilly! Thank you for your message. You bring up a common concern that many people talk about. When someone has experienced trauma, it really can be difficult to think about it and/or discuss it. You could very well be experiencing some of the symptoms of depression or PTSD. Many times, the symptoms of one condition overlap with other conditions. And sometimes we have symptoms of different conditions, but we don't actually meet the criteria to be diagnosed with those conditions. My guess is that you are more concerned about what to do and how to feel better than you are about the actual condition you might be diagnosed with.  When someone has an experience that feels very upsetting or sad or frightening, it is important that they are able to process that experience in a way that feels safe to them. Not everyone wants to resolve an unsettling experience in the same way. But if the person does not have an opportunity to process that experience in a way that helps them realize that they are now safe, then it might be really hard to think about it or talk about it. Many people really seem to benefit from having a compassionate, empathetic other person to just listen to them. There is a benefit to expressing one's thoughts and feelings about an experience with another person who is not going to judge them or criticize them or downplay their experience. If someone has an unpleasant experience and they are not afforded that opportunity, that person might try to stuff that experience or bury it somewhere in the back of their mind. But that is not helpful because every now and then something might happen that will trigger thoughts and memories of that experience. And since it was never fully resolved, it is still scary or painful to think and talk about. Even when someone does have that opportunity to talk with a safe and trusted friend, relative, or even a counselor, those memories might still be difficult. The difference is that the person who has had the opportunity to process the experience is potentially going to have much less of an intense reaction to the triggers than the person who has not had the opportunity. There is nothing wrong with you if that is what you are thinking. It is perfectly normal to have that kind of reaction. Our bodies and our brains are very complex and also very interconnected. What affects one affects the other.  It is also important to know that all feelings are valid. Feelings are normal. Some people think that they "should not" have certain feelings but nothing could be further from the truth. Feelings are part of the human experience. We all have them. Some people like to think they don't, but they do. So I am hoping that you realize that it is perfectly okay to have feelings. Think of them as messengers. They are trying to deliver a message to you. What is the message that your feeling of sadness is trying to deliver? Is it telling you that you miss something -- you are feeling some kind of loss? Sometimes, talking about our feelings reduces the intensity of them. We don't really want them to go away altogether because they are important. But on the other hand, we don't want them to control our lives so we have to know how to identify them and work with them. I have a lot of material about feelings and what a person can do to learn to tolerate them better. If we were working together, I would provide you with a safe place to talk about what has happened and bring those feelings out into the light. Frequently, that is the main thing that helps a person feel better. I hope my response to your concern was helpful. Thank you for reading. Judi
Answered on 12/02/2022

How do I deal with excessive anxiety that occurs with or without a reason?

Dear R, Anxiety has a way of sneaking up on you. It is best to try to acknowledge its existence as opposed to pushing it down. Anxiety and depression can also be present at the same time. Anxiety can set off depression, as one can feel depressed because of feeling anxious. Then depression can set off anxiety, as one can feel anxious because of feeling depressed. You also mentioned recently starting a recovery process related to traumatic experiences. Talking or thinking about traumatic events can stir up things for a person both emotionally and physically. The following questions might help you with a reflective process that can help you understand why you are experiencing an increase in anxiety. It is very important to consider how you have gone about exploring these traumatic experiences. Have you been journaling? Looking at pictures from that time in your life? Asking family or other people questions about the event? Writing a forgiveness letter to someone who has hurt you in some way? Writing a letter to yourself to help you heal from the experience? All these ways of acknowledging the experience can lead to you feeling different ways both emotionally and physically. I will describe a brief example. Imagine someone going back to the time in their life when they remember their house burned down in a fire. They might start by writing down what they remember that day before the fire occurred, how they remember feeling, or what happened in sequential order. As they do these things they might realize that they start to have dreams about the event and wake up feeling anxious or unsettled. Or they might notice that the sound of fire trucks or sirens reminds them of the fire that day. They might find that their heart starts to beat fast or their mind starts to race. They might also find that they are having a hard time sleeping or eating. Waking up in the morning and feeling motivated might also be harder as they explore what this traumatic event was like for them. This person experiencing all these physical symptoms or disruptions in their daily life related to them wanting to heal from their traumatic experience will need to consider doing something to release the emotions that come up. They might find grounding techniques like deep breathing, nature walks, naming things you can see-hear-feel-touch-taste-smell, yoga, or meditation helpful. Bringing this information back to you, it is vital from a self-kindness perspective that you consider what you might need to do for yourself to relieve the feelings that come up for you as you go about this journey of recovery. Just so you know, you certainly do not have to do something like this on your own as you can consider joining a support group for trauma survivors, starting therapy services, or talking to people you are close to in your life. I hope you find this information helpful. Best, Jasmine
Answered on 11/28/2022

How can I move on and be happy when everyone leaves me and hurts me?

Hi NP! It is really great that you are reaching out for support at this time. I can tell that you have been feeling concerned about how you will be able to move forward from your past experiences. I hope to give you some guidance and insight on how to manage your thoughts and feelings in addition to help you uncover what you could do next as you navigate your journey of self discovery. It appears that you have been trying to be the bigger person. You mentioned that you have been focusing on forgiving other people for their actions. This speaks to your many strengths, including your sense of bravery, resiliency and maturity. What are some of the barriers to seeking out forgiveness for others? Are you finding it tiring or exhausting to always be the better person in social situations? Take some time to reflect on your current role as a friend in your relationships. Where would you say that you are at in the process of forgiveness? Perhaps you can utilize a positive, self affirming statement as a means to seek out forgiveness from within yourself! Here is an example of a positive affirmation that encompasses the principle of forgiveness: "I free myself from anger and resent. I choose forgiveness as a guiding force and empowering principle." For more ideas and positive affirmations, check out the daily reflections written by Louise Hay. Here is the link to the website: I realize that you have been trying to move on and feel happy. That is a really great goal that you have set for yourself. In addition, I recognize that you have been trying to pretend that everything is okay. What are some of the pro's and con's to pretending that things are alright with you? How long have you been trying to pretend for? How has this behavior been working for you? I would be interested in hearing more details about your experience with this. It sounds like you would benefit from building up your natural supports. I realize that you have been going through a lot. Who in your life is willing to support you? I want to encourage you to take some time to identify your social supports. Here is a link to the support circle worksheet that you can print out and complete when you have some time: You mentioned that you have people in your life that say that they are your friends but, in turn, participate in activities without inviting or informing you about the plans. It sounds like this is a one way street, in that you are expected to be there for them, nonetheless. Have you considered writing in a therapeutic journal as a means to reflect on your past experiences? Journaling can be a wonderful way for you to organize your thoughts and express your feelings about your current relationships. There is a journal feature on the BetterHelp platform that provides clients with some ideas for daily writing and journal entries. You can pick an emoji that describes your current feelings and state of mind at the time of writing the journal entry. Sometimes writing down thoughts and feelings can be a valuable motivating factor, too! In addition, there are other resources for you to try when it comes to journaling. If you would like more information and ideas for journaling, check out the Therapeutic Writing Institute! What have you been doing to take care of yourself at this time? I recommend practicing self care skills as a means to manage your assessed self care needs. The BetterHelp therapists have access to a really great, in depth self care assessement that you can fill out if you choose to start therapy. In the meantime, do what you can to improve and build upon your self care skills. Be kind to yourself because you truly deserve it! Here is a link to some ideas for coping skills that you can incorporate into your self care routine: In addition to utilizing journaling techniques and self care skills, I recommend that you practice a variety of therapeutic drawing techniques. Therapeutic art making can be a holistic approach that facilitates the healing and recovery process. Draw a picture of your ideal friendship. What would that look like for you? Take some time to draw your feelings in lines, shapes and colors. Maybe you can draw a house, a tree and a person. You can consider drawing a bridge that goes from someplace to someplace. Mark what direction you are going in and where you are at on the bridge. Here is a link to more information about the therapeutic benefits of therapeutic art making: At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individual therapy sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It seems like you are open to trying out new ideas and learning new skills. I believe that you would find one on one counseling sessions to be helpful for you. You may find great joy by simply being heard.It sounds like you may also benefit greatly from attending a weekly support group. Would you be willing to meet other individuals and connect with others as a means to process your experiences in a therapeutic setting? There are a myriad of elements specific to group therapy that you may find to be healing and inspiring. In addition to attending individual and group counseling, you may benefit from going to a class or an activity. Perhaps you can join a pottery class, yoga class, photography group or a paint night! Thank you again for taking the time to reach out for support on the BetterHelp platform. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Take good care and have a nice day!
Answered on 11/15/2022

How do I overcome feeling like I am not achieving anything in life?

Having depression whether it be mild, moderate, or severe can definitely block you from making progress towards achieving goals.  Especially goals that require physical activity.  And when you have been depressed for a long period of time, coming out of that depression can be even harder.  If you combine the depression with a traumatic past, you have a recipe for almost pure stagnation. Sometimes in order to move forward, you have to first process your past to assess for any unresolved trauma that could be holding you back.  This can be done through numerous types of therapies/treatments depending upon the individual and what works for them.  As you come to contentment in regards to your past traumas, you can then shift to working on the depression. If you are trying, you are winning.  Depression wants you to not move.  It wants you to be unhappy.  It wants you to stay in bed all day.  One thing that you can do to attempt to move out of being depressed and to increase physical activity is to use irritability/anger (symptoms of depression) as motivation rather than letting them consume you.  For example, you need to be able to recognize and attend to yourself when you are getting irritated with someone or something.  If you can slow down the process of getting angry, you can choose to leave the house and go for a walk or go to a room where you can punch something soft until you are tired.  Or you can just drop and start doing pushups.  Some of these things may sound ridiculous, but they are benefitting you two fold.  One because you are disengaging from whatever is contributing to your feelings of irritability and anger.  Two because you are physically exerting which is exercising that will improve mood, reduce anxiety, and help you hopefully feel that you are making progress.  You have to start somewhere otherwise nothing changes.  You need to choose to change and you will when you are ready and the time is right.  As long as you are breathing you are still alive and there is still hope.    
Answered on 11/11/2022

I don’t know what’s wrong with me

Hi Han! Thank you for reaching out here. I appreciate you taking the time to connect to the services available on the BetterHelp platform. It is truly a good sign that you have decided to reach out for support at this time. You did a great job of identifying the ways in which you have been experiencing difficulties lately. I hope that my response to your question helps in guiding you in your journey of self discovery! Based on what you wrote in your question, I can tell that you have many strengths that have yet to be uncovered. It appears that you have been dealing with anxious and intrusive thoughts. It sounds like the thoughts that you have been having are consistent with negative self talk. You may benefit from learning more about the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) concept of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). The foundation of CBT principles is that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interrelated and connected. Essentially, the founders of the ANTs theory purport that thought patterns can be cyclical and often repeat themselves in recurrent, maladaptive ways. Below is a link for additional information and insight into ANTs from the Positive Psychology website: My go-to treatment recommendation for navigating negative thoughts is to utilize positive affirmations. By practicing self affirming statements, individuals can actually interrupt negative thinking patterns and begin to break up the continuous cycle. An example of a positive affirmation that could work is: "I fill my day with loving thoughts. I feel safe in my body. Today, I choose to stay positive and practice the principles of patience and gratitude." The inspirational affirmations written by Louise Hay can be rejuvenating and healing. I recommend practicing affirmations multiple times per day. Write the quotes down on sticky notes, store them digitally in your phone and repeat these sayings aloud as you look in the mirror. Take some time to read "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay. This is the link to the daily affirmations written by Louise Hay: In addition to experiencing intrusive thoughts, it sounds like you recognize that you have been experiencing mood swings. Would you say that these two experiences are correlated? Do the mood swings tend to happen after the intrusive thoughts arise, vice versa? Keep track of your moods in a daily planner or calendar. Try to notice patterns of mood changes over time. In addition to practicing affirmations and keeping a daily mood log, I recommend that you try out some mindfulness exercises. Essentially, mindfulness means being present in the current moment and removing judgement from the here and now. You mentioned that your thoughts just come and go. This experience is something that you can utilize as you learn mindfulness based techniques. Take some time to draw your thoughts and feelings in lines, shape and colors. The art making process can help cultivate spontaneity. You can enjoy an expressive experience as you draw, paint or color. Here is a link that provides an overview of additional mindfulness strategies: I understand that having these mood swings can be incredibly difficult to navigate. The swift changes in mood combined with the anxious thoughts could be a contributing factor for stress, as you mentioned that you have been feeling nervous and stressed out lately. I can see how being in a constant state of heightened anxiety would be disconcerting and distressing, to say the least. What have you been doing to manage the feelings of stress that you have been experiencing? I will share with you a resource for stress management strategies: I realize that you sometimes have difficulty with maintaining healthy connections with the people in your life. Who, would you say, are the people in your support circle? Is there someone in your life who you feel comfortable with reaching out to for guidance and encouragement? Take some time to build upon your natural supports. It is imperative that you connect with the people in your life who you trust. It may be advantageous for you to begin attending individual counseling sessions on a weekly basis. It sounds like it will be beneficial for you to meet with a trained therapist on a regular basis in order to communicate, express and discuss your thoughts, feelings and experiences. In addition to starting individual therapy sessions, you may also want to consider attending a group or a groupinar on the BetterHelp platform. Becoming part of a group will help you to foster meaningful connections and establish healthy, supportive, relationships in a therapeutic setting. Thank you again, Han, for asking this essential question on the topic of managing challenging thoughts and emotions. I am so glad that you reach out for support. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Take good care and have a good day!
Answered on 11/11/2022

Why can’t I recover from dysthymia?

Hi Cici! I am so glad to see that you have reached out for support on the BetterHelp platform. The fact that you are seeking out guidance on this topic shows your courage and strength. My hope is that I can help to guide you in coming up with a plan of action as you continue the process of recovering from dysthymia. I understand that you have been struggling with managing symptoms consistent with dysthymia for quite some time now. What type of symptoms have you been having? Have you been experiencing fatigue? Are you feeling irritable lately? Have you experienced a sense of hopelessness? How would you rate the frequency and intensity of your symptoms on a scale of 1 to 10? Also, what have you been doing to manage your symptoms thus far? I hope that you have been doing what you can to take care of yourself. I realize that dysthymia is a chronic mental health disorder that typically lasts for two or more years. When were you first diagnosed with this condition? From your perspective, how did your symptoms begin to worsen over time to the point of clinical significance? Do you have a childhood history of depression?  Take some time to reflect on your experiences with dysthymia. Perhaps you can write a reflective journal entry about how these experiences have impacted you. Draw or create a timeline about your mental health history if you are willing to do so. Some additional questions that may be helpful for you to explore include: What are some of your personal triggers or warning signs for feeling depressed? What are some of your hopes about feeling better? How will you start to keep track of your symptoms in order to be able to notice improvements? If you could change one thing about your dysthymic condition, what would that be? What would your life look like if you were to fully recover from dysthymia? Take some time to envision your future without having to continuously cope with dysthymia. I know that you mentioned that you have been trying to uphold meaningful conversations with the people in your life. Who would you identify as being actively involved in your support system? Are there people in your life who you can trust and talk about this experience with? I think that it would be a good idea for you to recognize your support system and build upon the supports that you already have in place. What are some of the major barriers that are preventing you from feeling better? Are some days worse for you to get through than others? Based on how you mentioned the concept of recovery in your question, it seems like you have hope that things may begin to improve for you in the future. I realize that what you have going through is not easy, to say the least. I would like to recommend that you try some self care related activities on a daily basis. Active minds has some great ideas, resources and podcasts on this topic. Here is the link to some ideas for self care and coping skills: I understand that you have been noticing yourself go into fight or flight mode and that you also notice yourself feeling tense. I would like to encourage you to practice some grounding exercises. Connect to the five senses and notice your feet firmly planted in the ground. Allow yourself some time to discover your sensory experiences through mindful breathing. Here is a link for additional ideas on grounding: Also, I would like to encourage you to participate in meaningful activities, such as creative art making interventions. Art making can facilitate and fuel the healing process. You may want to start by coloring in mandalas using colored pencils, markers, or water colors. Drawing within a circular format can bring a sense of wellness and physiological relaxation to the body. Perhaps you can draw a picture of the things that you are feeling grateful for. Another art based projective drawings technique is the Draw a Person in the Rain directive. By drawing a person in the rain, you may obtain a clearer understanding about your own resilient nature. Here is a link to more information about this unique art therapy intervention: At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individual counseling sessions. Having time to express your feelings and concerns with a trained therapist on a regular basis will likely be beneficial for you. You may want to explore cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches with your counselor. The basis of CBT is that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interconnected. Another option that you have on BetterHelp is to attend group therapy sessions or a groupinar. Connecting with other individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms of persistent depressive disorder could be helpful for you, as well. Take the time that you want to consider your needs and explore your options for therapy. Thank you again for your time in asking this valuable question about dysthymia on the BetterHelp platform. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Please harbor some hope that you can conquer the dysthymic experience. Have a good day!
Answered on 11/11/2022

How can I know my feelings?

Hi there, when something bad happens, it can leave us feeling sad, mad, helpless, disappointed, shamed, guilty, hurt, pain, and even anxious, it can be very confusing and leave us feeling conflicted about just how we feel, or should feel.  The emptiness you mentioned in your question is very real and painful.  There are a lot of factors that can make a difference such as: this time and what has happened in the past, with the same person or persons,  how we viewed what took place past and present, whether we are conflicted because of what was said, how it was said, when it was said, the surroundings when it was said, whether others were around when it was said--all of this makes a difference.   So not knowing the exact circumstances leaves us giving a VERY general answer. Many times we may have to "decipher" our own feelings and it sounds like that is where you are currently.  The feeling you have of being empty can also come from repeated instances of disappointment, discouragement and even a feeling of despair, which again can leave you confused and conflicted.   I often find many clients going through this type of confusion came from families where they often had to conform, many had learned to perform and did not have the "right" to be angry, the "right" to express their feelings without being ridiculed.  I find often when we don't know how we are "supposed" to react can be because we have not had the freedom, (whether real or imagined) to feel what THEY feel. We tend to conform to the guidelines and expectations of others.  You may have learned how to feel, how to think, how to act in order not to be made fun of, to be punished or shamed.  Making the decision to get in touch with the real you, not the one who has been "acting" or "performing" according to the predefined guidelines and family "rules" may very well help you with understanding your true feelings.  I believe the work to do this will be uneasy--at first, but so rewarding as you move toward feeling, touching, healing and releasing the old for the new.  I speak peace, love, and joy into all of who you are in your wonderful journey of discovery! 
(M.A., LPC)
Answered on 11/03/2022

How do I gain motivation and self worth?

Hi. You can talk back to your thoughts. You can even name it if you would like. You can call it a name like Bobby or something like "the worry monster." When you ask yourself "what if they're right?" reply with "What if they're wrong?" A couple ways to increase your self-esteem is to state a positive affirmation many times a day and also to say or list 3 of your qualities daily. State, "I am enough" repeatedly as you shower. Write "I am enough" on every mirror you own. Listen to an "I am enough meditation." You can find this on YouTube. I recommend one by Marisa Peer. However, if you don't like that one, choose one of your liking. Write "I am enough" on your hand. Set a reminder in your phone that goes off twice a day that says, "I am enough."  Think of 3 of your qualities daily. Write them down in a journal or look yourself in the mirror and say 3 kind things to yourself. Tell yourself the things you would have wanted to hear from your dad or brother, a boss, friend, anyone. Say things like "You're amazing!" "You're kind." "You're successful", etc. Listen to 3 Secrets to Boost Your Self-esteem by Marisa Peer on YouTube. Also listen to Why All Our Insecurities Come From This One Thing by Marisa Peer.  Think of 3 things you did right today. What does that say about you? If you listened to a co-worker, it could mean you're a good listener. If you finished a project, it could mean you're diligent. Another way to think of your qualities is to think of qualities you don't like in others such as lying. If you don't lie then you can say, "I am honest." Or what positive things do others say about you? Write it down.  We are operating from our subconscious 95% of the time. Your subconscious doesn't differentiate from fact and fiction. It will believe whatever is repeated enough. You only believe your dad and brother because you heard it 16 years. It wasn't true. You can reprogram your mind by telling it new affirmations like "I am enough" and reminding your subconscious of your positive qualities over and over again---every single day. Consistency is key.  It's great that you're exercising. Other things that build happiness are practicing gratitude (look up the scientific benefits of gratitude), meditating, positive journaling, acts of kindness, and fostering social relationships. 
Answered on 11/03/2022