Tag Archives: anxiety

A Letter to Myself

Dear Dawn,


I am writing this letter to you(me) to remember all the things I have accomplished in my life that I want to express my gratitude for, my homework for trauma group at work. First and foremost, I am grateful for choosing to have and love my children their whole lives. I am grateful that while I was never perfect as a parent, I chose to make my children the most important people in my life and still do. My heart bursts with joy and love when I think about them, remembering all the joy they have brought me. While I crave grandchildren, my children are and always will be enough to fill my heart with love.

My Boundaries


I am also grateful for all the work I have put into the relationships with my family. My boundaries with my sometimes dysfunctional family are always being worked out, but I am so glad that I am my authentic self now and that I no longer go along to get along. And sometimes, I react with more careful thought, rather than emotion, to family members when boundaries are being tested. Even if others haven’t changed, I have. My healthier interactions are now a reflection of my true and authentic self. I will always be a work in process, but now that I respect me, and others respect me too. 


I am proud that I take care of myself too. Self-care is so important to me that my swimming 3-times per week has become no longer enough. Now I am going to look into a couple of after-work classes or morning yoga.

I am Grateful…


I thought writing this letter would be easier. I have come through so much and I am so grateful that I somehow came through each adversity stronger than before. I have a more optimistic outlook than I have ever had in my life.


I am grateful that I chose, and choose, to not drink alcohol anymore. I choose to be present in my life now, present and clear-headed. At times it is harder than I had ever imagined, but sooo very worth the hard days to stay sober. My physical health has improved, my mental health has improved, and while I have had some absolutely fabulous friends, mentors, coworkers, and counselors help me on my journey, I am ultimately the one who has stuck with it and I did the work. 

My Life’s Path


And, to this I have to tell myself, how very, very grateful I am to have taken one of the biggest risks of my life and started a brand-new career path at 50 years old as a certified peer support specialist. I work with others in recovery with addiction and help them with their mental health issues.

The world has opened up for me and I feel more valued, committed, influential, important, worthy, competent, appreciated, inspired, open, energized, believed, validated, and respected and loved than I have ever felt in my whole life. 

I own my life now, my thoughts are my own, and I Express them more than I ever have. Thank you(me) for taking a leap of faith. And thank you, Lord, for having my back, as always.

Your loving self,

Dawn

Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to me and others! If you would like to write a guest post for the Wisdom Room, please email me your narrative to clevelandemotionalhealth@gmail.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Wisdom Room!


How to Mindfully Change Your Suffering

Is it true that we cause most of our own suffering?

Take a moment to stop and pay attention to what is happening in this moment. Take your time and patiently observe and describe your surroundings. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you feel? Doing this sensory exercise brings you into the present moment.

When you think about it, the present moment is the only thing that exists. The past does not exist, nor does the future. In principle, the way to eliminate self-suffering is to always live in the present moment. Even if the present moment is disagreeable, the present moment never lasts. Realistically, our minds seem to have a mind of their own, and we cannot always control our unwanted intrusive and iterative thoughts. 

Self-suffering primarily comes from living either in the past or the present where neither exist. Intrusive thoughts situated in the past are called rumination. Ruminating is when you replay the negative events from the past. Sometimes they come as thoughts, and sometimes as visions also called flashbacks. When ruminating gets out of control, it can have severe consequences in our daily functioning and in our interpersonal relations. 

If our intrusive thoughts are in the future, we are worrying excessively. Worrying is also known as anxiety. And, unfortunately, anxiety and rumination go hand-in-hand. One of the most common types of anxiety that is not well addressed in our culture is social anxiety. Social anxiety is when we are worried about what others are thinking of us. For example, you may have experienced social anxiety going to school, at a job interview, calling, or meeting with your mental health counselor for the first time, even going to the grocery store. For instance, one of my anxieties is when a driver is behind me too close. I am always worried about what they are thinking about my driving. Am I going to fast, to slow, not paying attention? And of course, there are numerous types of generalized anxieties such a relational, finances, health concerns, and not feeling like we belong. 

But what can we do with this human suffering state of rumination and anxiety? First, we have to pay attention (nonjudgmentally and compassionately) to when our thoughts are in the past or the present. Next, we have to label it, “hmmm, I notice that I am ruminating.” Then we can make a conscious choice to do one of two things. We either become mindful of the present moment, as discussed earlier or, we can change the story. For example, think of what you are ruminating about as a scene from a movie. Now, use your imagination to recreate the scene to make it whatever you want. If you were the villain in the original scene, you can change the story to where you are the savior or the hero. If you are the victim, you can change the scene to where you are the villain or the hero. These are just examples. It does not matter how you change the scene; you can even change it to where you are on a sunny beach vacation. Whatever you want! Just change the story in your rumination.

The same thing goes with anxiety. How can you reframe your worry? First, pay attention to your anxiety, then you label it (nonjudgmentally and compassionately). For instance, “oh, this is anxiety. I can feel it in my stomach.” Next, be kind to yourself by saying something like, “yeah, you’re [anxiety] here, but I can get through this, just keep going. It won’t last forever, I promise.” You can also rewrite the scenes of your anxiety-based movie.

Remember, not all past and present experiences have to be harmful. At times we can find comfort in reminiscing and planning. Reminiscing is when you are thinking about happy and funny memories of events, friends, and family. Planning is a way to be future-minded and can reduce anxiety. Reminiscing and planning can be fun and productive. However, if we spend too much time reminiscing, it prevents us from making new memories. And, planning must be followed by doing or implementing. If we do not follow through with our plans, we can stagnate, causing regret and rumination. 

No matter how we decide to pay attention to our past, present, and future thoughts and behaviors, paying attention is a mindful exercise. Mindfulness always takes practice, just like exercise. You cannot go to the gym and lift one weight and expect results. Mindfulness works the same way. If you want to change your suffering, you must make a conscious daily effort.

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Thank you for reading!