Thursday, May 6, 2010

Anti-Anxiety Behavior

O My Soul:

As you know, last weekend I became afraid I was falling into a major bout of anxiety and then depression. Read about it here and here if you haven't.

I am becoming more aware that I'm not aware of my emotions. I live in my head. It is how I cope. I think through the problem at hand, but I can easily get stuck at the implementation of a solution. So I continue to think about the problem. I over analyze and under act. Wha-la: I get stuck in my head. My counselor told me this awhile ago and has repeated it but it is only now starting to sink in - to my head.

So here are a few things I'm learning about feelings and how to become more aware of my feelings:

1. Feelings, unlike thoughts, involve a total body reaction. Feelings can increase heart rate, respiration, perspiration, and even shaking or trembling.

2. Feelings give energy. If I can express my feelings, I'll feel more energetic. If I'm unable to give expression to my emotional state, I may feel lethargic, numb, tired, or depressed. Blocked or withheld feelings can lead to anxiety.

3. Feelings are often contagious. Hang around a sad person and I may become sad. Hang around a happy person and I may become happy.

What I have noticed is that I will express my emotions --- if I know what I'm feeling. The problem is that I'm a bit like a frog in a pot of water coming to a slow boil. The frog will stay in the water until he is boiled to death. I, too, go from calm to panic/anger without realizing all the emotions I experience up to that point.

What can I do? I'm going to start with body awareness. So:

1. Physically relax.

2. Ask myself, "What am I feeling right now?"

3. Be aware of my heart and gut which is often the seat of emotional sensations.

4. Wait and listen as an observer while not trying to judge what I'm feeling. Simply wait until something emerges.

5. If I draw a blank or am still stuck in my head, go back to step one and start over.

6. Once I obtain a sense of what I'm feeling, it may help to make it more concrete by answering the following questions:

a. Where in my body is this feeling?
b. What is the shape of this feeling?
c. What is the size of this feeling?
d. If this feeling had a color, what would it be?

More on all this later. But please remember, this is way outside my comfort zone. My coping mechanism are all in my head and my head has helped me to survive a lot of bad stuff. But it's only a survival technique that obviously hasn't been working very well for a long time. I need new skills and the above may help.

In the meantime:

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


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