Tag Archives: Attachment theory

#21: Anxiety vs. Self-love

It has been quite some time since I last posted a blog. For a time, life in its many permutations got in the way of writing. Then, I had to deal with a bit of anxiety about beginning again. But my love for sharing this information finally got stronger than my anxiety. so here I am again- practicing Blog # 11. Thank you for your patience.

The last blog discussed accepting our humanness. Today I will up-the-ante and suggest not only accepting, BUT LOVING ourselves. What is your knee-jerk response to this idea? Some readers will yawn because they have mastered this years ago, but some of us really need some movement toward Self-love. We have been taught “to love our own self” means we are selfish or even narcissistic. So let’s break it down a bit today. What does Self-Love look like practically in daily life? And, most importantly for today’s blog, what does that have to do with our anxiety levels?

Quite a lot it turns out! The amount of love you have for yourself has a huge impact on your anxiety levels. Unfortunately, so does the amount of hate/disgust or impatience you wrestle with internally.

Here is how it breaks down. Each one of us has a relationship with ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not. We either treat ourselves with love, respect and dignity, or with anger, disrespect and frustration. An easy means of discerning this, is to monitor your inner voice. Your most consistent self-talk is one of the best indicators of your level of self-love. How do you talk to yourself when you mess up, or are having a bad day? If you are kind and supportive, you probably have a good amount of self love. But, many of us pile on the criticism and disgust when we don’t measure up to our inner expectations. We view our behavior and intentions through harsh and cruel lenses, and sometimes say things internally we might not even say to our worst enemy, and certainly never to our best friends! This punitive, angry voice just amps the level of anxiety we are already experiencing, because the brain processes emotional rejection in the same area as it does with physical pain. When we get rejected from the outside, or the INSIDE, we feel unsafe, unloved and in danger!

On the other hand, a great way to show a human being s/he is secure and safe in the world, is to tangibly love them! To be kind and generous and accepting of them, even when they have a bad day. Being loved is what each one of us craves, whether we will admit it or not. When I know I am deeply loved, my anxieties and worries are pushed into the background, or even out of my awareness. If we all treated ourselves the way we treat our beloved children or our best friends, most of us would experience much more peace and happiness on a regular basis.

To give a cliff-notes explanation for why most of us have a consistent internal voice, either positive or negative- it is connected to the internalization of our early experiences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internalization. We internalize the predominate ways and attitudes by which we were treated in childhood, and by adulthood we have made them our own. So a critical mother resides in our heads after hearing her frustration year by year. Or, a nurturing positive father “talks” positively internally when we had a bad day. The good news is that this negative internal voice can be turned into a loving and positive one with some awareness and deliberate work. Loving ourselves is a big means of changing this voice.

Try this simple experiment this week if you dare. Every morning as you get ready for the day, look at yourself in the mirror and say aloud, “I love myself period”! (Not only when I succeed or look hot.) Even when you are feeling scared or anxious, or have made a mistake, do it again. Say, ‘I love myself period’! See what happens and let me know. Though it may be hard for some, I encourage all of you to try it for a few weeks and see what a difference it makes.

Going deeper:
1.) What is your automatic reaction to the thought of Loving yourself, Period! If this is an easy concept, think about why that is. If it is a challenging or impossible one, what early experiences have you had with criticism or rejection that are influencing how you view yourself?
2.) What happens when you try this experiment? Does it get easier each day, or more difficult? What reason(s) do you come up with that you are not lovable, period? If so, ask someone who loves you if this reason is true.

Blog 8 -Love, Anxiety, & Spirituality

Last blog we talked about early lessons and how they impact our behaviors. There is one early lesson we learn that is often under our awareness. We learn about the nature of the Universe. The way our parents attach to us, and interact with us, deeply impacts our spirituality and world view. Einstein stated, “The most important question a person can ask is, “Is the Universe a friendly place?

What he failed to mention, is how much our early environment has much to do with how we answer that question. Perhaps, he just understood this because he was brilliant. Almost across the board, children raised in secure attachment families would answer, the universe is friendly. Whereas children raised in abuse, neglect, or insecure attachments, would state is it not.

We learn in templates, so our interaction within our first family give us our baseline templates for power dynamics, how authority is handled, relationships, and how males and females and adults and children interact. This is just to name a few that have significance for this blog. We can not keep thousands of relationships separate in our heads, so our brains just associates anything similar to the first templates made. (By the way, the good news is that these templates can be changed for the better.)

Our world views are also formed during our early years, see previous blog for more on this. When our first years of life include situations where we feel unsafe or unloved, we are building our attachment styles and also our view of God or the universe. If you believe in a personal God, who interacts with human and creation as I do, the early lessons learned about power, authority and relationship dynamics will be automatically transferred onto your view of God. If you eschew the idea of a personal God, you may view it more as the power of fate or the universe, but you will still view the universe as unsafe if your early environment included neglect or abuse.

If you are questioning this information, do a little test, think about your dad and or mom. If your parent(s) were overall kind, loving and supportive people, I bet your view of God or the universe is a positive one. If your parents were angry, punitive, scary or neglectful, I bet when you think of God or the universe, your view is not so positive. Many long-term church-going Christians, and I would guess also Jews and Muslims, would insist that God is good and loving. However, when they are in trouble or have messed up, or are frightened, that same God seems unmoved to their plight, indifferent or even angry and punitive. (I was one of these people for many years of my life.)

This is one of the many reasons why learning how to become securely attached is so important. Your view of God and the universe changes for the better as you feel secure in your life and in your relationships. This can even occur in relationship with God and our faith communities, we can learn secure attachment there and then transfer it to our families, etc,. And my friends, this will decrease your anxiety more than most any other change you make!

Going deeper:

1) Think for a few minutes about your early environment and how that template interacts with your view of God and/or the Universe. Write down the correlations that you notice and if you have any anxiety about God or the friendliness of the universe, see where you may have over-laid your first experiences onto your worldview.

2)  We more often put our father’s traits onto our ideas of God because years of Christendom have given us the idea that God is a male, which is not even Biblically  accurate. When you think of your father, what traits of his, good or bad, have you overlaid onto your version of God or even the universe?

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join one of my 3-week anxiety reduction workshops. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving.