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Old 09-16-2004, 05:02 PM
scott farmer scott farmer is offline
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Dr. Joe,

I have read all your books and those of many of psychiatrist and phychologist. And even though I am feeling less anxious than I did three years ago, my quest for understanding through knowledge has created more questions, some of doubt, about my own thinking and the scientific community. I do recognize the fundementals of how negative talk creates negative thinking. I also believe Dr. Amen's work about how over-active spots on the brain can lead to misguided thoughts. You both say that self talk can cool the brain. But I am now thinking that in order to cure myself from anxiety (and the depression that goes along with the realization that I am missing out on the pleasure of life) I must correct my interpretations on life. This has open a pandoras (sp) box. If I don't correct the thoughts and train myself to see the inaccuracy of them, how will I ever learn to make this a permanent healthy personalilty.

I want to give you an example of this cycle. Last fall I had an affair. To give a little insight, my wife has been suffering from depression for years and has refused to seek treatment. She was rejecting me more and more and alienating herself from the rest of our family. ( both behaviors she openly admitted to our marriage counselor). Battling with panick attacks and low self esteem I was drawn to a co-worker. She was very attracted to me physically and we could talk like we always new each other. Well the affair was short lived. Even though I felt no more anxiety or depression while I was with her I knew I had to tell my wife after our only encounter. All though my symptoms had all but disappeared, after reading materials from and working with marriage couseling professionals, I was thinking that my thoughts and emotions couldn't be trusted. Even with this "high school first love" sensation, I was curious to believe my psychologist's claims that comparing love of a married couple of greater than 20 years to a new fling was not a healthy. So for months I struggled with my choice of my family and this other women. Is my thinking really screwed up or was it a natural seperation of years of a disconnected relationship?
I also think of my job. I have a very condescending boss. His arrogance is well known by everyone. So is my loss of work passion a result of a boss that belittles people. According to UCLA research, rejection affects the cingulate system. So you combine all this information, while realizing I am the one making all the claims and I wonder, is it me or is it me because of a gentic predisposition to anxiety inwhich the enviorment leaves me very vulnerible. But this sounds like I am a victim. I keep this battle up with every part of my life. What is coming first the chicken or the egg. Is my behavior and emotions a result of thinking (which is distorted) or is my thinking a result of environmental factors (ie a very distant wife). Or is my years of anxiety making my interpretation of my wife, my boss, and my job extremely skewed.

I do know that I don't want to give up my family. I don't want to give up my community - so I will stay with this job. But self talk is not working as effectively as I would like. So this puts a whole set of what ifs on my plate. I want to feel good in order to trust myself again. I am afraid I may make the wrong decision. I sure hope you can defragment this and help me become unstuck!! Oh one other thing. In order to make healthy decisions do I need to remove myself from this other women I had an affair with. We work together and I see her many times during the week. I have really distance myself. But again some professionals say I can never be truly over this if I am not completely away. She was described as a metaphoric drug addiction and that I can never have complete closure being this close. Unfortunately I can't go anywhere I have a specialty job at a hospital - unless I move. I love my wife but I am afraid that if I don't get away from her completely than the intoxicating effect of the affair will not allow my wife and I to be real close again. Or do I need to just take care of the core problem (years of anxiety) and the rest will take care of itself?
Thanks
Scott
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Old 09-17-2004, 01:42 PM
Dr. Joe Dr. Joe is offline
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Scottó
From your post, it sound like you've become an overthinker. Let me explain. Overthinking is a defense of insecurity that allows you to feel that ìif I can just figure all this outÖî Now, donít misunderstand, understanding is fine, but when it comes to insecurity, itís always a ìyes-butî kind of conclusion we come up with. Always another area to explore or dissect. It appears that your mission to understand your anxiety has inadvertently wound up solidifying your need to intellectualize your problem. Many feel quite safe when locked in their overthinking-struggle. Itís a feeling that, ìAt least Iím doing something about my problem.î Truth is, youíre just feeding the insecurity/anxiety motor. If, in fact, youíve read The Power of Self-Coaching, I need you to go back to step three of the five essential steps. You need to digest the importance of stepping apart from your thoughts and trusting your instinctual/intuitive capacity for more effective living. I know it can be hard to grasp that less-is-more when youíre mired in all of these spiraling thoughts, but I do see this problem all the time in therapy. And when I do, I have no patience for what-iffing, speculating about whatís wrong, or ruminating about symptoms. Instead, I try to teach being reactive to life, letting go and trusting. Please re-read the section on meditation and try to understand why I feel meditation is not only a metaphor for more effective living, but also a specific technique for understanding how to separate from overthinking, anxiety, and insecurity-driven intellectualizations.

Best,
Dr. Joe
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