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Take Back the Power !
A healthy sense of self esteem comes from a strong sense of authenticity within one's self. A sense of who I am.... but most people with an anxiety disorder do not feel a sense of 'who I am'. Instead the question is, "who am I ?"
Articles Self Esteem and Anxiety Disorders by Bronwyn Fox

Healthy Self Esteem and anxiety disorders are mutually exclusive.

There has been very little recognition of the role of self esteem, or lack of it, in the development of anxiety disorders. There is also very little recognition of the role that self esteem plays during the recovery process from a disorder. Yet it becomes the definitive answer to permanent recovery." (1)

A healthy sense of self esteem comes from a strong sense of authenticity within one's self. A sense of who I am.... but most people with an anxiety disorder do not feel a sense of 'who I am'. Instead the question is, "who am I ?"

Intellectually and physically we have matured but unknowingly we have held our emotional development back. This is the reason why we don't feel a sense of Self and this lack of a sense of self impacts on our ability to fully recover from our anxiety disorder

We can see this separation between our intellectual and emotional development in our understanding of our anxiety disorder. We may know intellectually that our panic and anxiety symptoms and fears won't hurt us, and we may know that they are being created by the way we think, but emotionally we don't believe it. Even when we may have control of our panic and anxiety, we still look over our shoulder wondering if or when our panic attacks or anxiety will return.

Permanent recovery from our disorder means we need to bring our emotional development to the level of our intellectual development. We need to know and feel the truth at an emotional level why our panic and anxiety will not hurt us in any way. This is the ultimate prevention strategy. because we no longer fear them and we no longer look over our shoulder wondering when the 'big' one is going to happen.

Emotionally we are still relating to ourselves and the world around us as we did as children. This is not to say we are 'childish', but we see ourselves through the eyes of the child we once were and "it is within this framework that we relate to our panic and anxiety. This is the reason why our disorder has so much power over us." (1)

As children, all of us, whether we are coming from an abuse background or not, learnt from a very early age that who we were was 'not good enough'. While this may not have been intentional, as children we did not have the intellectual and logical abilities to be able to decipher the many messages we received from parents and other people.

When we were angry as children, we were told in no uncertain terms that being angry was definitely not acceptable so we suppressed it. We did the same with our grief /sadness. Boys were told they must not cry. So too were many eldest daughters. They were told to stop crying and go and look after their brothers and sisters! We suppressed our creativity, spontaneity, joyfulness, playfulness, as in many instances, these were also seen as not being acceptable. So too our wants and needs. These were seen to be selfish and so, as with other aspects of ourselves, we suppressed them.

Overall, we suppressed the building blocks of an authentic sense of self and created a self who we thought would be more acceptable to other people. We became who we think we should be, so that we would have the love and caring we needed, how ever tenuous that may have been. While this is very basic human need, it is the number one motivator for every single interaction we have with other people. And as adults, we are still suppressing a more authentic sense of self in the pursuit of trying to ensure everyone likes/loves/cares for us.

The suppression/denial of a more authentic sense of self, means we have not learnt to trust ourselves, we certainly don't trust our ability to recover, and we are in constant conflict with ourselves by continually criticising and 'beating' up on ourselves. This in itself creates much of our underlying anxiety.

We are also extremely passive people. "We have needed to be passive as this is part of the ideal of who we think we should be and being passive ensures that we don't express any of our emotions." (1) Despite the onslaught of our disorder we respond to it in a passive way. No matter how hard we try and fight to get control over our disorder, it escalates and our fears and sense of helplessness increase. Any sense of anger that we feel towards our disorder is turned back on our self and we blame ourselves for our disorder and our inability to fully recover.

But we are not helpless ! We can learn to develop a more authentic sense of self and we can learn to take the power back from our disorder permanently.

(1) Fox Bronwyn, 'Power over Panic : Freedom from Panic/Anxiety Related Disorders' 2nd edition, 2001, Pearson Education/Prentice Hall, NSW, Australia

 

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