Firstly my apologies for the delay in my blog posts, I am aware that it has been quite a while since my last post!.
This months blog post is all about parameters.
I want to use this months blog to explain why. This is a frank and honest blog telling you all about how I have learnt from my own experiences and hopefully helping you all understand that we are all normal and that its all about accepting yourself and knowing your own limits.
Over the last year and a half I have made some massive personal life changes in my quest to stay panic and anxiety free.
When I say massive, its been a whole life overhaul. You see I was stuck, very stuck in a certain way of thinking and being that was becoming an ingrained habit the longer I went on in that same way of life.
As I have mentioned before, I suffered a degree of abuse as a child, often leaving me believing that the world was something to fear and teaching me to say silent and supress my feelings and emotions. Then as I entered my adulthood I met my soon to be husband whom I was with for many many years. When he came along and took me out of the situation I was in, he became my knight in shining armour but the problem for me was that I had never allowed myself to be alone and to learn who I was and develop my shattered self- esteem (because I was too scared and didnt believe in my own ability). I had no self belief and was always anxious and so I depended on this man for my own happiness that I could not give myself. Unfortunatly he had the same dominant traits as my father and being with him really was no good for the kind of person I was and so I was to have many more down days than up and my parameters became more restricted the longer I was with him.
What was always interesting was that I was seeing the world through my eyes not always how it was. I was accepting the beliefs and parameters I had held as a child and throughout my marriage as correct and so my thoughts, feelings and behaviours refected from my past experiences and how I had learned to be. I didnt know this though as I didnt have that level of knowledge, so I never challenged these beliefs, I just accepted that they were how things were.
Three breadowns later over twelve years taught me that to change my thoughts and long held beliefs it was not just about entering into situations I had been avoiding it was also about some of the people in my life being very wrong for the type of person I was. With my husband, I tryed in vain to change myself to become what I thought he wanted me to be (hence my conscious and subconcious fighting and subsequent anxiety) and forgot that really I just needed to accept myself, and then I would attract the right type of people into my life, those who were happy to accept me for me. This realisation took guts to follow through and twelve years of Anxiety and an even more shattered self esteem didnt make it easy. But I started to realise that I could no long fight with myself and I had to start valuing myself for who I was.
This is not about me saying nasty things about my Ex, its about just explaining my own situation so that you can all get the jist of what I am trying to explain. After all he is the father of my beautiful children and we did have good times. Hes gone onto be happy with a partner whom is much more suited to him and the type of personality he is and I wish him well.
Your situations may all be very different to mine, but I do need to use some example to explain what I am trying to say.
The problem with Anxiey and Depression is that it happens when your "subconscious mind" fights with your "conscious" mind as its impossible to fight with yourself. Your subconscious mind is like the black memory box found on a areoplane - it forgets nothing. This is not always a good thing when we suffer with anxiety as the longer we go on in a negative environment or with these negative beliefs the more in grained they become.
So in this blog I am talking about parameters and it was important to just go through my own experiences first to briefly to help you to understand where I am coming from.
All my life experiences, and indeed yours teach us how to view the world and our lifes in general. Our experiences teach us whether life should be full of fear and anxiety, happiness or sadness etc. We each view our own world in the way that we see it, others view the world based on their own beliefs thats how it works but It doesnt mean thats the right way, or that we cannot challenge these beliefs, character traits or parameters that we set for ourselves.
This also is true for different situations, different places or interacting with different people. We view things based on how we as an individual see life, not always how life is.
So lets look how parameters affect us when they have been set as a result of Anxiety.
You do not have to have suffered abuse to be fearful of aspects of life, suffering anxiety as a result of stress can teach you behavioural habits and beliefs that cause you to begin to fear situations that you would not have feared before, it can change your whole outlook on life and change the way you view things going forwards into the future. The lack of self confidence that partners Anxiety does not do anything to help this situation, it just teaches you to sink into the background, and take it as gospel that this is how things are now.This is what keeps you stuck.
Take a cafe bar for example. Three different people may enter, and the cafe bar does not change, but each person will see it differently based on their own beliefs, life experiences and how they feel they need to be.
Another example is two different people meeting a friend, they get to the cafe but their friend has not arrived. One may have low self esteem and instantly think that the friend has not turned up because they dont like them and feel sad and depressed, while the other may have more self confidence and just presume that their friend is late and so get themselves a coffee and a magazine and sit down. It never occured to that person that the friend would not turn up. Neither one really knows where their friend is, but both have very different ideas when it comes to dealing with the situation.
Imagine now how different this situation would look to the first person if only they had chosen to challenge their self confidence and beliefs? Maybe all they had to do was stand back and acknowledge that yes they may be looking at things in a negative way and ask themselves if there is any other way that they could look at things differently. It may feel odd at first and they still may feel down and depressed when questioning their thoughts for quite some time. Thats because habits take time to form, however once they begin to change their own parameters then their whole life would begin to change for the better.
We view the world how we see it. It doesnt mean thats how it is or in fact that it cannot be changed.
This is my whole point within this blog post.
We all have parameters when it comes to feeling safe. They are our own boundries that we make ourselves, based on our thoughts and experiences. As long as we stay within these "self taught" boundries we can tell ourselves we are ok and our subconscious does not activate our fear response.
So for me, as you know from reading the rest of my web site, I developed Agoraphobia. I had geographical boundries and also set parameters (That we really not helping me) in every situation. As soon as I stepped one foot out of that geographical boundry all the panic sensations came with avengence and I felt awful. This is a prime example of my parameters being set within the geographical boundry. Notice that all that started the panic symtoms was the fact that I had told myself I was unsafe outside of this boundry, so when I stepped out of it, the panic symptoms came and I reacted -thus teaching my Amygdala that I was in fact in a dangerous situation and yes please do activate my fear response. Remember this is so quick it activates on a subconscious level, meaning you are not even aware of it. My Agoraphobia was born.
So to recover, I first had to be aware of how this was all working to keep me stuck and then begin to question my long held beliefs and alter my parameters of what I believed kept me safe.
It is that simple in theroy and practice, However at first the "practice" is hard, but its the only way.
Remember though there is a saying I once heard that I still think is very true
"In the beginning life transformation causes great stress".
I always remembered this when I was beginning my own recovery. In the beginning recovery from panic takes guts and determination. You are required to start acting in a different way, a way in which in the long term your panic will subside, but in the short term it will go up as you begin to step out of your self inposed comfort zone, (The parameters you have set) and face the situations that for a long time you have feared. This will bring on your symptoms in the short term (a good thing!) but in the long term will help you to get back your quality of life.
So in conclusion:
- Begin to question how you think- its how you think but it doesnt mean its correct or that there is not different ways to look at it.
- Begin to step outside of the parameters you have set yourself- they can be changed!
- Accept in the short term it wont feel good and will take guts, determination and the odd setback
- Always keep your end goal in mind!
I hope that my teachings help you in your own journey,
Until my next blog, I'm wishing you all good health and happiness