Thursday, March 20, 2008

A new perspective on anxiety

I bought a whole bunch of books of affirmations from a few weeks ago for seventy-five cents apiece. I know, I know what you're thinking. I've probably made similar comments myself. Recently I've been listening to a cd of parenting affirmations, and I have to say, I've found it very helpful. I need all the help I can get in changing the negative automatic thoughts in my head- like a weed whacker for my mental roads overgrown with weeds. So after perusing a book by Sue Patton Thoele at the library, I click-click-clicked and hit complete purchase.

One of the books I picked up is "Heart Thoughts" by Louise Hay. I keep re-reading the page about fear. She says
Remember, when a fearful thought comes up, it is trying to protect you. Isn't that what fear is all about? When you become frightened, your adrenaline pumps up to protect you from danger. Say to the fear: "I appreciate that you want to help me."
Whoa! I love this idea- adrenaline is something physical that is released in order to help protect us. But sometimes- maybe often if you have an anxiety disorder- the warning is a little over-dramatic.

As I look at the pile of books next to my bed, I fear that I'm amassing quite the self-help library. Somewhere in the blogosphere I read a critique of sorts of self-help books. The author wondered why people would all want to be the same. I don't want to be the same as everyone else, I don't think that would be possible even if I were working toward that! I want to be me- I want to be the me I am on good days. I'd like to string the good days together, into good weeks and good months. Yes, I know that there is suffering, that life is hard (and hey, some of these books are Buddhist books, and they are so helpful), but I also know that I shouldn't have to struggle on a daily basis.

Mommy Mantras was another purchase, and I've looked at it weekly since I bought it a few months ago. My favorite one is "I can stand this." How many times have I said to myself "I can't stand this anymore!" when I've been in an uncomfortable parenting moment? It is so wonderful to stop myself and say, yes, you can stand this. you are doing it now.


Suna said...

I think the usefulness of self help books and affirmations and the stuff is that sometimes those of us with negative "tapes" in our heads really need to hear positive ideas repeated, to remind us of what we already really do know. Repeating helpful ideas can stick something into our heads so that it is "ours," too.

I "know" a lot of things that I still need to hear many times. To remind me that I "know" it and to help me really internalize it.

I will share that quote about fear with my younger son, who has many of the same kinds of issues you and I do, and can get completely shut down by fears.


Anonymous said...

If you can use out of those books, then they are useful! When I was a teen, I really was able to learn a lot from Leo Buscaglia. It helped shape how I would handle situations in the future and I am deeply grateful. I've heard great things about The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. In fact, maybe I should pick up a copy!

Surrounding yourself with positive thoughts, no matter what the medium (I'm currently using Bruce Springsteen), is a way to deflect those negative thoughts that we tell ourselves.

Sometimes in life we think about our journey and sometimes we get on the path. It comes in cycles and I think it is great that you are trying to be just you on your better days.

cathy said...

I'm a closet Louise Hay fan. On some levels, her stuff feels too simplistic and The Secret-like.

However, like you, her affirmations help me. Have you looked at the structure of them? By highlighting the positive elements of experiences and body processes, she cuts through the angst bs and gives a clear thought about what's going on -- something that the mind truly can grab onto and move forward with instead of just spinning around and around like a angsty hamster.

Anyway, it helps me.

Brené said...

I love this post. I'm in this weird place right now where I'm re-reading books and wondering why I'm just now getting some of the things I read 10 years ago. I guess you really do get it when you need it.

btw - oddly enough (or not), Louise Hays name keeps popping up all around me. I'll have to check out her work.

jason said...

Great post. I've found a website that can help you overcome
anxiety disorder and such. Might want to give it a try at