Overcoming Emotional Trauma: A Menu For Healing The Hurt That Holds You Back

Growing up, I was emotionally hurt a lot.  Although I was an only child, my parents were so caught up in their own troubles and struggles that I managed to end up not fitting the stereotypes of an only child.  Meaning not only was I not spoiled and catered to, on the contrary: I was outright neglected.  Plus, my parents fought like cats and dogs (on a slightly lighter note, I would describe them as the understudies for the Costanzas on Seinfeld — except in real life, it was anything but funny to regularly witness, as I figure you can imagine).

All that arguing inevitably left me with plenty of core anxiety and insecurity—no surprise there, right? So, that was the essence of my emotional hurt growing up: a mix of deep feelings of neglect (accompanied by feelings of being unlovable), plus significant amounts of insecurity and anxiety; hurt that left me vulnerable to what I came to think of as my inner bully’s “double whammy” of potential self-sabotage.  Meaning: on the one hand, I am aware of my having an emotional core of hypersensitivity and over-reactivity to feeling betrayed and/or rejected. Yet on the other hand, I am equally aware I have a piece inside of me—a piece I learned from watching my parents argue so much—to pseudo-compensate for feeling hurt by all too quickly going to anger.

I tell you all of this for two reasons. First, so I can now follow it up by sharing with you how I know firsthand what the incredible benefits are that you can get from being in the right therapy with the right therapist (it took me quite a while, but I eventually found him, thankfully).  Am I no longer hypersensitive and over-reactive? Certainly these self-sabotaging tendencies are not gone entirely by any means, but I’m clear as daylight that I have come a long way in controlling them—especially, and most importantly, in the face of situational triggers.

Am I no longer prone to outbursts of anger?  I can’t say they never occur, but I can unequivocally and unhesitatingly say they occur a lot less, and manifest much more often than not in an increasingly controlled manner.

So, what’s my “secret” here, to use this overused term?  It’s called HEALING. No, my painful emotional wounds certainly are not 100% healed; some scars do for sure remain. But my confidence in my ability to comfort myself and be resilient in the face of feeling betrayed or rejected, as well as in my ability to keep my anger in check have never been stronger.  And to what do I attribute my healing?  Here’s my “menu” for success.

First, again, being with the right therapy/therapist. Then, add all of the following items: having the incredible good fortune to still love my work, learning self-comfort tools, turning to my robust network of great friends for support (while making sure to give it back to them as needed, too), performing acts of kindness and courage, allowing displays of  vulnerability at the right time to the right people, getting a good laugh a day (and a good cry when needed), and, last but not least, staying as active, healthy, and playful as I have the luxury and ability to be.

So: care to share where YOU are on the healing front?

Learn more about my journey to overcoming my Inner Bully and tackling Self-Sabotage by checking out my two published books, browsing my recent blog posts, and connecting with me on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Oh, and I encourage you to download a FREE chapter from my book: you can find the link to download that here!

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ANXIETY (AND FEAR) VERSUS PANIC ATTACKS

The purpose of this article is to distinguish between anxiety and panic attacks.

In thinking about how I wanted to present it though, I decided to add a third piece into the mix: fear. Let’s, in fact, start with fear versus anxiety. As with anxiety, fear is a feeling that every human being experiences, at one time or another. When fear or anxiety takes hold, we are all likely to experience symptoms like nervousness/jitteriness, racing and/or obsessive negative thoughts. Especially, “what-if” and worst-case-scenario thinking, impaired concentration, and to varying degrees, physical/bodily sensations like heart racing, shallow breathing, palms sweating, and tightness in the chest.

The key factor distinguishing fear from anxiety can be summed up as the likely rationality versus the likely irrationality of these sets of symptoms.
On the fear front, the symptoms listed above are triggered by the anticipation of what could be an actual danger or threat to physical or emotional safety. Examples include undergoing tests for a possibly cancerous lump in your breast, walking down a dark street and seeing a suspicious stranger walking toward you, being somewhere where you suddenly hear gunshots, or finding out that there are going to be a significant number of job layoffs at your place of employment in the very near future. All of these situations involve an anticipated worrisome event that has a real possibility of actually occurring, and therefore, the symptoms are rational.

In contrast, when the symptoms surround anticipation of an event that is not likely to happen (not an impossibility, but an unlikelihood), in this framework we are talking the irrationality of anxiety rather than the rationality of fear. Examples include: worrying that you are going to do poorly on an important exam when you are in fact an intelligent person who studied hard for the exam, feeling mild turbulence while on a plane yet worrying deeply that the plane nonetheless is going to crash at any moment, convincing yourself that your significant other is about to reject you in spite of all of your evidence to the contrary, and worrying that you are going to lose your job when you have been repeatedly reassured that you are performing very well and are important to the company you work for.

Now we move to panic attacks.

Simply stated, panic is the extreme of what can be either fear or anxiety. During a panic attack, all of the symptoms listed above can become so overwhelming that you can feel immobilized and frozen in place. Accompanying this can be the extremely disconcerting thought that you are “going crazy” or having a heart attack. A panic attack can vary in terms of its duration: it might subside in less than 30 seconds, or unfortunately, it may continue for many minutes or longer. The longer it lasts, the longer it will take to return to a normal level of functioning. In a state of anxiety or fear in contrast, as distressing as these feelings may be, chances are you will still be able to function sufficiently enough to not become overwhelmed and immobilized.

Last but not least, I want to emphasize that whether we are talking about fear, anxiety, or panic, what all of these feelings share in common is that they should never be judged as signs of abnormality or weakness. Instead, they all reflect a state of being HUMAN. They’re disturbing and very stressful feelings yes, but human nonetheless.

You can read further about how self-sabotage can actually trigger anxiety if not panic at times in my book, “Your Self-Sabotaging Inner Bully: Standing Up to It Once and For All!”

I look forward to connecting with you!

– Sid