My patients come for support with the following:
We experience anxiety as a heightened lack of control. We can feel anxious about everyday experiences or world events. Anxiety makes us feel uneasy, nervous, distressed or frightened. Unwanted, irrational and/or repetitive thoughts can come. These thoughts may stand alone or lead to behavior that is difficult to control. Intense anxiety can feel like terror. These panic or “anxiety” attacks can cause chest pain or pressure, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and feelings of being disconnected, going crazy or dying.
We can engage in behavior, that although optional and pleasurable at first, over time becomes required and necessary for us to maintain enjoyment. Often with diminishing returns, this kind of behavior can lead to growing interference in our lives. We can become addicted to technology, alcohol, work, sex and even other people. Though the focus may be different, feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness and/or disconnection may come to underlie all addictive behavior as it worsens.
Dysphoria is a state of general unhappiness, dissatisfaction or frustration with our circumstances or life. Most often, we experience it as a mood but prolonged dysphoric states are also possible.
Depression can feel as if we are turning against ourselves, even despising who we are. Its predominant symptom is a loss of pleasure or joy in what used to feel satisfying. We can also lack motivation or energy; think more negatively; be irritable or sad; have appetite or sleep changes; withdraw from people we care about and have less hope for our future. We can experience some or most of these symptoms, for shorter or longer periods of time.
The challenges to being alive are numerous. Our circumstances can lead to stress, limit our ability to function and even create despair. In the face of life’s realities, we often don’t know how to remain grounded or feel capable. It can feel like we have lost our power.
Mindfulness is an ability to focus our awareness in this moment. When we act and react automatically, we limit our choices and reinforce patterns that often don’t work for us. Learning how to pay attention, we can see ourselves in fresh ways; we also see reality more clearly. Soon, new things seem possible. The practice of mindfulness can lead to feeling more grounded, “alive” and comfortable with who we are.
We could say that living well may not be about having more of anything. What is it then? This is perhaps one of the most significant questions we have. Often, our attempts to answer it don’t fulfill us or soon we need more. Figuring out how to live optimally can be enlivening and point us in new and unforeseen directions.