The annual epidemic of those with the “holiday blues” is setting in. While the number of those leading lives of “quiet desperation” over the holidays isn’t accurately understood … they don’t call it an epidemic for nothing. Those depressed aren’t just the usual suspects … teenagers, singles or widows who live alone … holiday depression strikes married men and women, those in relationships, introverts or extroverts. You can be a 13-year-old boy or a 48-year-old married mother of three. Those depressed often don’t disclose their condition because they themselves can’t articulate what they’re feeling … sometimes vague but very, very real … and hard to describe. Many of those affected don’t think others will understand (they may be right) and don’t want to be seen as “whiners” during a time when everyone around them is being upbeat. In effect, you can’t tell who may be or not be depressed in your circle. But not being able to tell doesn’t mean they aren’t there. When someone is depressed, their quality of life is significantly (and could be severely) degraded and those around them can be impacted. Since most of us can’t tell who may be affected by depression during the holidays, the best advice may be to engage in some personal outreach with all those close to you.
• Inquire — A friend of mine regularly comes up and asks how I’m doing … seriously and in a way that communicates he genuinely wants to know. I have to actually think what the answer is and I feel better he cared enough to really ask.
• Invite — Whether single or married with kids … anyone can be depressed and might enjoy a lunch, after work drink or evening out with a friend. All of us feel better when we feel included and desired as social partners.
• Empathize — The capacity of understanding emotions in another person is a powerful force. Being depressed often involves a huge sense of isolation … the sense that someone significant in your life empathizes with you can be uplifting.
• Encourage — Making the suggestion to see a therapist or other trained professional can give a depressed person the “permission” they may need to seek help without feeling guilty. The stigma of mental health treatment is still strong in our society and affirmation of the value of mental health treatment from a trusted friend or family member is important. From an article by Bill Schroer http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/article/20131221/OPINION02/312210010/Bill-Schroer-Don-t-let-depression-win-out-over-holidays
A human being can survive almost anything,
as long as she (he) sees the end in sight.
But depression is so insidious,
and it compounds daily,
that it’s impossible
to ever see the end.
There are always times when you worry about whether or not your relationship is going well. You fret over something that your partner said to you, or are convinced that you said the wrong thing to your partner. The concerns may fleet through your mind and you figure you misunderstood…or you may become so preoccupied that you can hardly concentrate on anything except why you haven’t heard from your partner. People high in what psychologists call attachment anxiety chronically assume the worst about their relationship partners. They fear being dumped at any given moment, and as a result, may seem overly needy and clingy. This behavior, of course, only makes their situation worse unless they have a patient and understanding partner. Israeli psychologist Guy Doron and a team of researchers from the School of Psychology in Herziliya in a December 2013 publication believe that attachment anxiety is only part of the picture when it comes to explaining the fears and worries that people develop about their relationship partners. Doron and colleagues propose that some people fall victim to double relationship-vulnerability in which they are not only anxiously attached, but also rely heavily on their relationships to define their feelings of self-worth. The doubly vulnerable may be particularly prone to another set of relationship concerns in which they become obsessed or preoccupied with doubts and fears about the future of their relationship. The combination of double relationship vulnerability with obsessional worries can spell emotional chaos to individuals with these psychological tendencies. Start by identifying the triggers that set off your worries, whether it’s a missed phone call or just something thought or event that makes you wonder whether your partner truly loves you, or vice versa. Once you get past that first step, then you can work on changing those troublesome thoughts. Next, see if you can reduce your urges to act on your thoughts. Compulsive behaviors often do follow obsessional thoughts. From an article by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201312/what-do-when-your-relationship-worries-get-you
Worrying is like a rocking chair;
it gives you something to do,
but it gets you nowhere.
No matter how much time you spend controlling and trying to prevent your partner straying, if the person you are in love with, is the kind of person to be disloyal, then all of the energy you put into worrying about whether they will cheat won’t stop it from happening. You can’t control what another person does. You can only control how you think, feel and behave. Let Go Of The Fear! It really is your choice to let go of the fear, and actively decide that you will no longer waste your energy trying to prevent, predict or control the actions of your partner, so you can feel more positive and calm in your relationship. The first thing to do is to stop seeking constant reassurance. Receiving reassurance can become an addiction. It feels good to have someone tell us how much they love us and would never hurt us, and it’s possible to get caught up in a cycle of creating conflict, just so you can get that hit of reassurance you’ve become hooked on. But just like a drug, the power of that hit wears off pretty quickly when you keep taking it and soon, it’s never enough. It’s also exhausting for a partner to keep trying to convince you of their love and many will just stop if they feel like you don’t hear them anyway. Step into your own power and nurture the belief that you are valuable, loveable and important to your partner. Provide your own reassurance when you start to feel doubtful with affirmations like ‘I am all that I need to be’, or ‘I am loved, valued and important’. Choose whatever feels good to say to your self and use it in times of fear. Being confident and self assured is much more appealing and a kind of sexy that’s hard to stray from rather than being needy and lacking self value. There will always be someone out there that could be considered more attractive, more interesting, funnier, richer, or smarter. It’s not about trying to measure up so that your partner will want only you, it’s about believing that you are loveable and trusting that your partner picked you for exactly who and what you are. From an article by Rachael Lay http://www.rachaellay.com/why-worrying-about-cheating-is-pointless/
Cheating is easy.
Try something hard
You have mixed feelings about your worries. On one hand, your worries are bothering you—you can’t sleep, and you can’t get these pessimistic thoughts out of your head. But there is a way that these worries make sense to you. For example, you think:
Maybe I’ll find a solution.
I don’t want to overlook anything.
If I keep thinking a little longer, maybe I’ll figure it out.
I don’t want to be surprised.
I want to be responsible.
You have a hard time giving up on your worries because, in a sense, your worries have been working for you.
It’s tough to be productive in your daily life when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts. If you’re like many chronic worriers, your anxious thoughts feel uncontrollable. You’ve tried lots of things, from distracting yourself, reasoning with your worries, and trying to think positive, but nothing seems to work. Telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work—at least not for long. You can distract yourself or suppress anxious thoughts for a moment, but you can’t banish them for good. In fact, trying to do so often makes them stronger and more persistent. You can test this out for yourself. Close your eyes and picture a pink elephant. Once you can see the pink elephant in your mind, stop thinking about it. Whatever you do, for the next five minutes, don’t think about pink elephants! “Thought stopping” backfires because it forces you to pay extra attention to the very thought you want to avoid. You always have to be watching for it, and this very emphasis makes it seem even more important. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to control your worry. You just need to try a different approach. This is where the strategy of postponing worrying comes in. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of an anxious thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off thinking any more about it until later. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anxiety_self_help.htm
If I had my life to live over,
I would perhaps have more
actual troubles but I’d have
fewer imaginary ones.
When you feel a surge of sexual jealousy, you’re responding to the possibility of being abandoned by your partner. But on a deeper level, jealousy is sounding a genetic alarm. Of course, your genes are the last thing on your mind as you watch your beloved flirt with an attractive stranger, but it is our genetic booty that jealousy’s urgent stab has evolved to defend. Our bodies and minds spring from thousands of generations of successful survival and mating ploys, all of which now operate in us. The most basic strategy is mate-guarding, on display during any cocktail party or Sunday stroll through the park: the innocent urge to put your arm around your partner in casual conversation; the not-so-innocent mention of a partner’s flaws, as if to say, “Trust me, this person is not the dazzling package she appears to be.” These are time-honored techniques to fend off potential rivals. Evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists believe that our ancestors rarely got a second chance to woo a mate. And the pool of potential dates on Cavematch.com was in the low two digits. It therefore behooved our ancestors to be hypervigilant about any real or imagined threats to their relationships. There are two ways jealousy manifests itself: as an appropriate concern and as a destructive disturbance. Jealousy is either a fine feather duster or a blunt mallet, depending on how we perceive our own value on the mate market. When jealousy simply alerts us, it is likely to result from a concern for the relationship. But when it is destructive, it is usually triggered by insecurity about our prospects. People with a poor sense of self (that is, those who are desperate to preserve their mating prospects) are more prone to the deep hurt and fury that precede angry outbursts. Today your odds of longevity and fecundity are much better, but if you feel that you’re worthless, then you might as well be living in the Pleistocene, so tenaciously will you try to retain your mate. The trouble is, it won’t work. Because the easily tripped alarm of excessive jealousy stimulates Neanderthink, the consequences of abandonment (the worst-case scenario) are exaggerated. Getting dumped requires an adjustment, and although that adjustment is rarely life or (genetic) death, as it might have been eons ago, we still fear the loss of our partner and crave constant reassurance. Paradoxically, however, a person who needs reassurance of devotion and fidelity will drive a partner away and into the arms of a rival. Othello instructed us: Harmful jealousy springs from a weak sense of self.. By accepting that perfect reassurance cannot really exist and that you do not absolutely need it, you can redirect your efforts to improving your relationship. The energy spent seeking an ironclad guarantee of fidelity could be better spent, say, being the fun-loving person with whom your partner would want to have an affair. From an on-line article by Nando Pelusi, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200607/jealousy-voice-possessiveness-past
Chains do not hold a marriage together.
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads
which sew people together through the years.
Feeling bad when you do something wrong is natural, and maybe even useful. Without it, where would we find the motivation to do better next time? But not all bad feelings are equally beneficial. Shame, which involves negative feelings about the self as a whole (i.e., feeling worthless), is associated with defensive strategies like denial, avoidance, and even physical violence. Feeling like you’re just a bad person at your core can undermine efforts to change, as change may not even seem possible from this perspective. Guilt, by contrast, involves feeling bad about one’s behavior and its consequences. Research suggests that criminal offenders who recognize that doing bad things does not make them bad people are less likely to continue engaging in criminal activity, and remorse, rather than self-condemnation, has been shown to encourage prosocial behavior. Healthy self-forgiveness therefore seems to involve releasing destructive feelings of shame but maintaining appropriate levels of guilt and remorse to the extent that these emotions help fuel positive change. In theory, self-forgiveness is only relevant in the context of transgressions that an individual has acknowledged and taken responsibility for. Without the recognition of wrongdoing, what would there be to forgive? In practice, however, self-forgiveness can be code for avoiding culpability. The self-forgiveness formula most conducive to constructive change seems to involve an acknowledgement of both positive and negative aspects of the self. Research suggests, for example, that people who have more balanced, realistic views of themselves are less likely to use counter-productive coping strategies like self-handicapping than those who either inflate or deflate their self-images. Along similar lines, self-forgiveness interventions have been shown to be most helpful when combined with responsibility-taking exercises. Alone, self-forgiveness seems to do little to motivate change. By Juliana Breines, Ph.D http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-love-and-war/201207/the-dangers-self-forgiveness-and-how-avoid-them
Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed,
is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have
behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can
and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time.
On no account brood over your wrongdoing.
Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.
One of the most important things to remember is that your partner is with you for a reason and not with his or her ex. The past is the past. It can’t be undone. The future is what matters. Be honest and open with your partner and usually everything will be fine in the relationship. Don’t compare your partner to your ex. Don’t talk about your ex very much. It makes you sound like you are still in love with them. Don’t call your ex unless it is business related. Don’t call your partners ex to ask questions about your partner or to start trouble. Don’t listen to his or her voice mail on the cell phone. It will only get make matters worse. Let your partner have privacy unless you suspect something weird is going on. Don’t go through your partners stuff unless you ask him or her first. Remember Please Don’t go through their stuff just to be snoopy because that indicates that you don’t trust him or her or just being paranoid. From an Yahoo article by Shelly K. http://voices.yahoo.com/dont-let-ex-threaten-current-relationship-13874.html?cat=41
Such is the inconsistency of real love,
that it is always awake to suspicion,
always requiring new assurances
from the object of its interest.
Obsessiveness is common in many ways – not being able to sleep at night because of hurting someone you love, for example, or developing a childhood fascination with dinosaurs that never leaves and you eventually become a paleontologist. Then there is an addiction to obsessiveness which stifles creativity. Obsessiveness is not only boring, it also lacks any faith in process. Process is always out of your control. You must be open to finding out what will happen instead of seeking a false sense of control. An example of this false sense of control would be to think: If I always know where you are, you can’t have an affair. Part of the control of obsessiveness is to nurse hurt feelings, exaggerate disappointment, and constantly blame the other for not coming to the rescue. Obsessiveness is very interesting because there are two sides to it: the positive side is creative passion that helps you know what really matters; the negative side is an addiction which makes you unable to prioritize anything. As a result, things have the same weight. Is s/he having an affair? Obsessiveness is a focus on what is NOT. Truly focus on the here and now in the moment and the obsession will change itself. Obsession is a substitute for action. Both polarities of obsessiveness are available. What is more mentally healthy, especially as we age, is sorting out what is important and what to let go of. Ultimately letting go is the final lesson of death. One of the many wonderful aspects about raising children is that elegant dance of knowing what’s important combined with the letting go work of adolescence and not knowing. The not knowing leaves room for respecting their choices as different from your own ideas of who they should be. Too many parents stifle and interrupt children’s abilities to make their own mistakes and their own choices. From “Anxiety, Control & Codependency” by Rhoda Mills Sommer, L.C.S.W. http://therapyideas.net/anxiety.htm
is like theft.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A too large dose of anxiety will cheat you out of the beginnings of things. A way out of anxiety is to risk trying new things. Try to develop new ways to follow your curiosity. Consider the curiosity of a toddler. How can you borrow this kind of wonder? A small child embraces adventures naturally – then come all the inhibitions. A real adventurer supports his or her own unease. Remember that anxiety requires too much caution, which means not letting things happen to you. It can be good to risk running into a little bit of trouble. A fixed idea of what is proper can be paralyzing. A true definition of responsibility is to respond to the situation in any way that is life enhancing. Anxiety is the opposite, it is life restricting. According to Laura Perls, responsibility is the ability to respond. For therapy to be successful it should increase your range of response and ability. Many things can create anxiety. Genetics, an anxious parent, or early childhood loss all can leave the legacy of learning to listen to the outside world instead of the inside self. So begin by finding your own voice. The most important step anyone can take is to get off the bunny slope and move on into facing the anxiety. Work to seek out the discomfort and then take care of yourself to make it bearable. If you learn to tolerate the fears that are exaggerated in anxiety, then you can stop the slippery slope into depression. Value awkwardness because it is part of all beginnings. Awkwardness offers you relief and room to move. Allowing awkwardness from yourself means you are more likely to find your own voice. Remember the first time you learned to ride a bike? Allowing yourself the horrible moments of a new beginning, ended up in a lifetime skill that anxiety could have cheated you out of. From “Anxiety, Control & Codependency” by Rhoda Mills Sommer, L.C.S.W. http://therapyideas.net/anxiety.htm
Striving for excellence
striving for perfection
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worries, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more dangerous than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every negative thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle life’s problems, assuming you’ll fall apart at the first sign of trouble. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes are known as cognitive distortions. Although cognitive distortions aren’t based on reality, they’re not easy to give up. Often, they’re part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. In order to break these bad thinking habits and stop the worry and anxiety they bring, you must retrain your brain. Start by identifying the frightening thought, being as detailed as possible about what scares or worries you. Then, instead of viewing your thoughts as facts, treat them as hypotheses you’re testing out. As you examine and challenge your worries and fears, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective. Stop worry by questioning the worried thought:
- What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
- Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
- What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen?
- If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
- Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
- What would I say to a friend who had this worry?
By Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.
I’ve had a lot of worries in my life,
most of which never happened.