The Benefits of Anxiety

Anxious Young ManAnybody out there want to be anxious? Probably not.

Anxiety is a very unpleasant feeling. Your heart may race. Your stomach may be in knots. You may have trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating.

Medical doctors see a lot of patients with anxiety. About 20% of patients seeing a primary care doctor actually have a diagnosable anxiety disorder! They may have many different symptoms, but anxiety is the underlying issue for many.

Untreated or longstanding anxiety is certainly not good for your health. It’s a marker of stress, and we all know what long-term stress can do.

But there IS something very positive about anxiety.

Continue reading...
5 Times to NOT Care What Anyone Thinks

5 Times to NOT Care What Anyone Thinks

Happy FarmerI might not say it in quite those words, but it’s really true: “I don’t care what you think!” In fact it HAS to be true, or I’m no good to you or anybody else.

For a people-pleasing person like me, that conclusion is a hard one to come to. I learned very well how to please professors, bosses, and other superiors. I learned how to read the reaction of patients and respond in ways that they could understand. Most people liked me.

But I was comparatively useless.

It’s my unique understanding that makes me most valuable. And it’s YOUR unique life experience and perspective that someone else – or the world – needs. If you care too much what others think of you, your ideas, or your way of doing things, you won’t be any good to anyone.

Continue reading...

A Response to Recent Election Results

BallotAlong with millions of others I was watching the election returns on TV Tuesday night. The last two days have provided somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster for me, and I know I’m not alone. A large group of people were surprised by the election results, and are now struggling to find ways to both understand what happened and to choose how to move forward.

Some possible responses to these events are decidedly unhelpful: becoming angry, running away and hiding, remaining depressed. And moving to some South Pacific island probably won’t work for most of us!

The pundits and TV talking heads have poured over the detailed numbers and there seems to be somewhat of a consensus: the country is changing.

Continue reading...

Doctor, Doctor: Your Family of Origin

Three GenerationsYou can’t choose your parents. Or your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If your family of origin was reasonably healthy you probably don’t think much about how you choose to relate to them. You look forward to family gatherings, and keep in touch between times together.

There is always some tension as young people grow up and leave home, but healthy families celebrate such transitions. While still connected, junior develops a life of his or her own. And you’re at least somewhat proud of your parents and the legacy they left you.

But not all families are so healthy. It seems some significant measure of dysfunction is the norm in most families. Volumes have been written on the topic, and the mental health field has provided numerous careers devoted to helping those from unhealthy families learn to function better now.

Growing up in a home with alcohol, drug use, rage, criminal behavior, or violence leaves permanent marks on your soul.

Continue reading...
5 Tips For Growing Up

5 Tips For Growing Up

Growing up is a process. Have you ever grown up in some significant way when everything was easy?

Probably not.

There’s the cliché that says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I don’t believe that’s always true. Sometimes trauma can stunt our growth: child abuse, rape, severe poverty, and others. There are probably many variables that determine how one responds: genetics, time, age, support, personality, and much more.

I DO know that the times when I’ve grown the most have definitely been some of the most difficult. That doesn’t mean to say I’ve grown from every problem! But if I hadn’t had real almost-overwhelming challenges at times I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Sometimes I feel like Einstein when a fire destroyed much of his work. Far from feeling devastated, he is reported to have said, “Now we can start over!”

So what can we do to turn a problem, a tragedy, a loss, a trauma into a growth experience? These tips can help make the difference in growing up.

Continue reading...