Fear, Depression, and Hope

Fear, Depression, and Hope

Most of the time you are not consciously thinking about what is at the core of what scares you.  You might not know what’s at the core. Maybe you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the impact of being afraid, the impact of fear on your wellbeing. Whether or not you have given it a lot of thought, for some, fear can seem as though it has infinite power. It can feel paralyzing, isolating, and uncontrollable.

It can feel as though there is an endless supply of fear, that it can be turned in any direction- fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of being alone, fear of failure, fear of economic instability, fear of “being found out.” Most of the time you want to feel good. (Who doesn’t?) To do that you probably tend to act in a way that you believe will allow you to avoid pain.  You try to predict what will cause you pain by using experience from the past and making assumptions about the future. Fear can be pretty motivating.

It’s possible to go to incredible lengths to avoid or control fear- intense preoccupation with details, intense preoccupation with outer appearance, addiction, aggression, are a few examples.

When there is so much fear telling you what you need to avoid to feel ok, it doesn’t leave much time to sit productively with what is happening in the present. You probably find that you enjoy your relationships, jobs, families, and hobbies much less. You are not as productive when you are distracted by fear, however; if you use your productivity to defend against fear, you might find that you get a lot done, but still feel incredibly anxious.

At some point, there is a circumstance that encourages you to stop avoiding whatever it is you fear. Perhaps you make a conscious choice to face it because you have renewed resolve. Maybe you find yourself in the dreaded situation and begin to see that you are already getting through it and that it has not overtaken you. Or maybe you have decided that so much avoidance is exhausting so you begin to take slow, small steps toward a courageous shift.

Fear is a pretty compelling emotion. It’s why some of you stay in relationships or jobs long after you want to be there. It’s why some of you suffer from addiction. It can drive you to lead completely inauthentic lives by denying who you are and what you want, and you begin to live for someone else, what that person wants, who that person wants you to be. This can cause depression and anxiety which feeds addictive behavior; it can be tough to extricate yourself from this cycle.

That small step toward a courageous shift I was talking about earlier is essential for getting yourself out of this pattern. On another hand, when you are in this cycle, it can be hard to see that you have any choices. Maybe you feel like you don’t have any choices at all. That’s a normal feeling. When you have been experiencing the same behavioral and emotional cycle for a length of time, it can be difficult to remember a time when things were different. Maybe things weren’t ever different, and your hope for change is slim. But if you’re here, you have found some amount of hope somewhere within you. Together we can increase that hope.


Love and Be Loved,

Secrets to Stop Yelling and Start Talking

Secrets to Stop Yelling and Start Talking

Chances are, most of us have entered into conversation and, before long, ended up defending ourselves with variations of phrases like, “that’s not what I meant!” and “you took it the wrong way!” We have fallen prey to misunderstanding, and a discussion has become an argument. This can happen when our intention differs from our impact.

“Intent”, by Merriam-Webster’s definition, is “the state of mind with which an act is done.” Maybe our goal was to come to a better understanding, offer support, explain something, or even apologize. From the time we spoke them to the time our words were processed, our intended message was skewed. It can be confusing and strike quietly, but the difference between intent and impact can have nasty outcomes.

Merriam-Webster defines impact as “influence, effect.” We might have intended to say one thing, but we had another effect. The compliment we thought we were giving about someone’s outfit today might have been received as a derogatory statement about the outfit they wore the day before. The genuine support we thought we were offering after someone failed a test might have been received as an indication that they didn’t try hard enough.

It’s easy to become defensive of our intent when we are coming from a place of love and are met with anger or hurt feelings because of the impact our words had on a loved one. We can’t always foresee these misunderstandings and prevent them from happening because it’s not possible to predict our impact on others 100% of the time. We can, however, use methods to support a more successful recovery from these moments.

When we find ourselves in this situation, it is helpful for us to be genuinely curious about the other person’s experience. How are they feeling? What about the interaction caused them to feel like that? Being curious about the other’s experience and our impact on them will foster our understanding of what is happening and will eventually bring us closer to one another. It is not helpful to continue our attempts to show the other person how wrong they are for feeling the way they feel and different ways in which it isn’t our fault.  This will expand the divide.

It can be challenging to lead with our curiosity, but perhaps this will be motivation; 1) Practicing this interest will almost always diffuse the situation faster. 2) There is a new sense of safety in the relationship since the both members have experienced one’s wish to understand and courage to talk about what didn’t feel like it was working for them.

Often, our go-to technique is to be defensive. It’s familiar to us, and it makes us feel powerful when we think we need it most. I have not had one person come to me and say, “Wow, I’m so glad I was so defensive with my partner. It helped them feel like they could talk to me.” I have had many people come to me and say that they are glad they exercised curiosity while discussing a conflict.

Most of the time we have loving intentions, but when love is not the impact our loved one’s experience, we need to be curious about why.

Love and Be loved,