How to Cope With Fear of Infidelity and the Anxiety it Brings

In this age of technology and digital communication, I have seen a growing trend in my practice of serious technology related issues in relationships.  These issues can signal the beginning of the end for relationships as they can propel the couple to try to control each other and to descend deeper and deeper into codependency and mistrust.

 

Cell phones are wonderful things, they allow us to stay in constant communication in a myriad of ways, but they can be the source of much conflict. Text messages are a prime example. Communication with someone other than the partner can trigger insecurity and suspicion in a relationship and the informal nature of text messages can sometimes allow for communication to veer towards subjects that may be seen as inappropriate or that feel disrespectful to the other partner. Someone already prone to insecurity may be propelled to anger and jealousy by the discovery of messages to another.

 

Computers can be another source of pain. From Facebook to pornography, there are triggers everywhere that can cause hearts to constrict and fear to rule. Friend requests from former flames can cause more anxiety than a four-alarm fire, and private messages when discovered can damage trust and build walls.  It can seem like there is nowhere in the world that is safe from the potential “threat” to the relationship once the line is crossed. 

 

It seems like the first response to these events is to “control” them. The wounded party may ask to see the offender’s text messages or view their computer history on a regular basis. Monitoring the phone records and promises not to delete anything until inspected become commonplace. It seems like once that first step to “monitor” is taken, the relationship becomes a playground for crazy making.

 

There are too many ways around being monitored for monitoring to be an effective means of achieving that feeling of safety. There are apps that allow you to receive texts on a server so that they never actually show on a phone, and ways to wipe and encrypt information on a hard drive so that it is never found. The person trying to feel safe because of the feeling of control that comes with being able to check the phone will exhaust himself or herself with having to think of all the ways they could be deceived.  

 

Relationships can become so codependent and enmeshed once they head down this slippery slope that they hold no resemblance to the loving environment that was originally triggered by suspicion. Monitoring someone is futile. If someone wants to cheat they will. There is no surveillance mechanism strong enough to track someone who wants to be underground. This is hard news to hear for someone in love who simply wants to feel safe.

 

The first step in dealing with an infraction, whether infidelity, flirtation or mere miscommunication is to evaluate your boundaries. What are you willing to do or to put up with to stay in this relationship? Is the relationship worth saving? How much discomfort are you willing to bear? Are you willing to risk being hurt to love this person? For some the answer is no, and for some, staying in the relationship is worth the work it will take to stay there.

 

So how do you do it? You realize that you are in a relationship with a person who is separate from you who has the ability to make decisions on his or her own. You accept the fact that no matter what you do you cannot prevent yourself from being hurt when you love someone. The risk is always there. Then, you nail your feet to the floor and take a deep breath. This is the hard part.

 

Distress tolerance skills are useful when we are unable, unwilling, or it would be inappropriate to change a situation. Learning to coexist with discomfort can go a long way in increasing our quality of life. Sometimes learning a few skills can allow us to stay in a relationship and thrive versus intervening and trying to control and pronouncing the beginning of the end for the relationship.

 

Radical acceptance is the first step in distress tolerance. Acceptance means being willing to experience a situation as it is, rather than how we want it to be , it is a willingness to accept things as they are and to learn to exist with the fact. This doesn’t mean that what happened is ok, it merely means that it happened.

 

Repeatedly ‘turning the mind’ is useful as well.  To be in the actual situation you are in, rather than the situation you think you’re in, or think you should be in is a must.  Your mind is always going to give you other ideas, interpretations, reminding you of old strategies.  Each time your mind wanders and you notice these other thoughts and images, simply bring your attention back to this moment.  Not judging the situation to be good, or bad, or in any way.  Simply bringing your attention back to this moment, this situation, and being effective in this situation. That means accepting that something happened that made you uncomfortable, and resisting the mind’s desire to control or fix the situation.

 

Taking a deep breath and finding things to distract you from the desire to monitor or control can help. Engaging in activities is often helpful. One should focus their undivided attention on the activity alone, and attempt to push away any thoughts that try to come in related to the trigger. Mindless, or tedious activities usually work best for this, such as needlework, washing dishes, filing papers, etc. It is important not to attach any opinions to the activities you are engaged in because doing so opens the door to judgmental thoughts and images related to the triggering event.

 

Finding meaningful activities outside of your relationship can help you to keep perspective and a healthy sense of your significance. Volunteering or engaging in activities with a purpose helps redirect your attention upon others. There is a tendency to become hyper-focused on your relationship when triggered to anxiety, and developing contributing skills helps move your focus to others.  Examples of contributing skills would be doing someone a favor or making someone a nice card for a “just because” occasion, or writing a letter to a loved one, telling them how much you care. Contributing not only helps distract you from your own painful emotions but it helps you build a sense of self respect and gives back meaning and purpose to your life that may feel diminished due to the current circumstances in your relationship. Doing things for others can be very rewarding, especially when the act is unsolicited. This distress tolerance tactic is very effective.

 

Self-soothing is a skill that many of us neglect when triggered to anxiety. This is a skill in which one behaves in a comforting, nurturing, kind, and gentle way to oneself. You use it by doing something that is soothing to you such as taking a bubble bath, or spending time in nature. It is used in moments of distress or agitation to great avail when you are feeling afraid and compelled to act.

 

Committing yourself to a relationship based on mutual respect and refusing to allow yourself to take that first step towards losing self-respect despite your partner’s actions is a must. Once you take that first step down the slippery slope you not only lose your self-respect, you give your relationship the seal of doom. What feels like it will save the relationship and make it “safe” for you is actually the guaranteed way to keep you in anxiety and pain. Monitoring also prevents the offender from being able to redeem himself or herself, and takes away their dignity, which ensures that they will never be able to perform up to their highest capabilities in the relationship.

 

Sometimes outside support is necessary to enable you to thrive in a relationship where your trust has been broken. As a psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety, I have seen relationships dissolve due to infidelity and the ensuing mistrust, but I have also seen them heal and grow. Having an advocate to help you navigate the uncharted waters of relationship insecurity can go a long way towards helping you decide whether to stay in a relationship or leave. Psychotherapy can help you keep your dignity and to step into your power and use the situation as an opportunity for growth. If you need assistance in dealing with relationship anxiety call me at 770-789-0847 or email carolyn@growhealchange.com for a free consultation. For more information see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.

 

 

 

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Motherhood: The Anxiety Maker

For those who struggled with anxiety before motherhood, becoming a mother may have kicked things into overdrive. Even if you didn’t have anxiety before your child was born, after birth the world may seem like it will never be a safe place again. How can it, with your heart walking around outside of your body now? All of a sudden you are surrounded by potential dangers, like accidents waiting to happen, illnesses lurking in the background waiting to pounce and potential calamities everywhere.

Recognizing that you have anxiety and taking steps to intervene are vital to your health and the health of your children. Children pick up on the energy of the anxiety, and may see your anxious energy as the cue that they are unsafe or not capable of coping with what life throws at them. In order not to communicate a message of fear to your child, you must take steps to tame the beast.

Talking back to your anxious thoughts goes a long way towards addressing the problem. Actually logically looking at what you are believing and fearing can help you determine if your fears are unfounded or legitimate. When fears are legitimate you can plan a course of action and take steps to ensure your child’s safety and security. Unfounded fears are more nebulous and cannot be planned for or addressed using logical methods. Reassuring yourself when you have an unfounded fear can help you relax.

Having an outlet outside of your children for socialization and support is helpful too. Seeing other mothers who cope with potential situations without fear is a good model to assist you in stepping out into situations that you logically know are safe but still feel uneasy about. Having other women to discuss your fears with who will help you reframe them and support you is invaluable.

Good self care is vital. As mothers we are trained by society to believe that taking care of our children is selfless and that caring for ourselves is indulgent and selfish. This is simply not true. You must fill your own tank to overflowing before you can provide the abundance of love and caring you want to provide for your children. Take a walk, spend time with friends, read a good book, take a bubble bath. Spend time on things that bring you joy. Maintaining your identity outside of your children models what a strong, independent woman looks like, and you want them to grow up with the skills to care for themselves. How can they do this if they have never seen it done?

If anxiety is too much for you to deal with on your own, seek help. A qualified mental health professional is trained to help you address the symptoms. As a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, I have seen the benefit of therapy to help mothers cope with anxiety and thrive. Please call me at 770-789-0847, email me at Carolyn@growhealchange.com or see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com to contact me for a free consultation.

Help For When Unexpected Events Cause Your Anxiety To Soar

Help For When Unexpected Events Cause Your Anxiety To Soar.

Help For When Unexpected Events Cause Your Anxiety To Soar

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was one long strand of expected events? If there were never a cancelled appointment, an overdraft at the bank, a broken air conditioner? The big and little surprises in life are the ones that can really cause us to go into a tailspin. My clients tend to report that they have a moderate to high moderate level of baseline anxiety, but when unexpected events come along to exacerbate this, they report that they can become incapacitated, or at least experience a reduction in quality of life.

So how do you handle this? First of all I recommend addressing the baseline anxiety level. Good self care is the first step. Clients who report high baseline anxiety rarely have an answer when I ask what they do to take care of themselves. Good nutrition, exercise and rest are vital, but they do not completely address the problem. Having a regular routine of activities that nurture the soul is an integral part of reducing baseline anxiety symptoms. Whether it is taking the time to read the newspaper, a bubble bath, time in the garden, or an evening of stargazing, soul nurturing activities are my go-to for helping clients cope on a daily basis.

When the surprises come along, I recommend stopping, taking some deep breaths and really focusing on the body. Get grounded by noticing your feet on the floor. Feel the chair on the back of your legs and the breeze on your skin. Notice the smells in the room. Then pay attention to where you have the “felt sense” of that anxiety in your body. Is it a tightness or lump in your chest or stomach? Short shallow breaths? Muscle tightening all over? Notice your body’s response to the anxiety and do the opposite of what your body wants to do. So take slow, deep breaths, progressively relax your muscles and visualize your heart rate slowing down. This is important in stopping the hormonal cascade that occurs with anxiety.

The next step is in allowing the anxious energy to flow through you instead of resisting it. Notice it is there by saying “there is anxiety” and let it pass through you without judgement. Watch it like you would watch waves on an EKG machine passing on and off the screen. Visualize the energy leaving your body just like it came in. Not resisting it and remembering to breathe are the keys.

Addressing the thoughts that trigger anxiety is the very important work of therapy, but you can apply these physical interventions at home to bring yourself relief fairly quickly. If you need more help addressing anxiety symptoms call me at 770-789-0847 or email me at carolyn@growhealchange.com for a free consultation and also see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.

Unexpected events can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Be prepared with interventions to preserve your quality of life.

Is Anxiety Robbing Your Quality of Life?

Anxiety is so pervasive in our society that many people just accept it as a “given.” The symptoms of tightness in chest and stomach, fearful thoughts and others have come to be commonplace for many people. As a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, I feel like shouting from the rooftops that you don’t have to live with these symptoms!

When I direct a client to take a few minutes and just focus on the bodily symptoms they are experiencing and to apply a few simple interventions (some as simple as merely BREATHING) they report a reduction of symptoms across the board. Just taking the time to notice the body and to tend to the symptoms can provide relief.

Doing the OPPOSITE of what the body wants to do is frequently effective. If the body wants to take shallow, quick breaths, then a few slow, deep breaths may provide significant relief. If the body wants to tense up, then a quick progressive relaxation exercise may help you feel better quickly.

Addressing symptoms can provide relief, but addressing the THOUGHTS that cause the symptoms is the key to long term relief. There are always thoughts that trigger the hormonal cascade that causes the anxiety symptoms to manifest. Targeting those thoughts and reframing them is the tricky part, and is frequently the work that is done in therapy. Many clients come to me for a few visits, address the thoughts causing the problems, learn a few coping skills and are on their way having an increased quality of life.

If you are having symptoms of anxiety that are interfering with you finding joy in your everyday life I urge you to give me a call at 770-789-0847 or see my website www.carolyntuckertherapist.com to set up an appointment for a free consultation. You could be well on your way to finding tools to Imagea relaxed, happy life after one call!

Can Brainspotting Help My Panic Attacks, Stress and PTSD Symptoms?

BrainspottingImage is a tool for accessing and releasing body memories that can be limiting us or causing physical or emotional problems. A brainspot is a physical way in which we hold an emotional experience. To release an unwanted feeling, sensation or thought (such as, “I feel so guilty”) we find the spot in the brain that corresponds to that feeling. Similarly, a positive feeling (“I can do anything I try”) can be strengthened by using the brainspot that corresponds to that feeling. Auditory bilateral stimulation (listening to specially filtered music that stimulates both side of the brain) can be used to amplify the processing.

 

Brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, dissociation and a variety of other challenging symptoms. Brainspotting is a simultaneous form of diagnosis and treatment, enhanced with Biolateral sound, which is deep, direct, and powerful yet focused and containing.

Brainspotting taps into the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself. Brainspotting brings to awareness and releases the many habitual patterns we have developed to deal with negative experiences from the past such as physical symptoms or negative thoughts.

It is theorized that Brainspotting taps into and harnesses the body’s innate self-scanning capacity to process and release focused areas (systems) which are in a maladaptive status i.e., frozen primitive survival modes. This may also explain the ability of Brainspotting to often reduce and eliminate body pain and tension associated with physical conditions.

For example, someone may habitually freeze when sensing someone is angry. By releasing the brainspot that imprinted this fearful reaction, a person can become free to choose a more relaxed and appropriate response to anger.

A “Brainspot” is the eye position which is related to the energetic/emotional activation of a traumatic/emotionally charged issue within the brain. Located by eye position, paired with externally observed and internally experienced reflexive responses, a Brainspot is actually a physiological area that is holding emotional experience in memory form.

When a Brainspot is stimulated, the deep brain automatically via reflex signals the therapist that an area of significance has been located. The Brainspot can then be accessed and stimulated by holding the eye position while focused on the somatic/sensory experience of the symptom or problem being addressed in the therapy.

The maintenance of that eye position, or Brainspot within the focus on the body’s “felt sense” of that issue or trauma stimulates a deep integrating and healing process within the brain. This processing, which appears to take place at a reflexive or cellular level within the nervous system, brings about a de-conditioning of previously conditioned, maladaptive emotional and physiological responses. Brainspotting appears to stimulate, focus, and activate the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself from trauma.

It is estimated that 75% of medical problems are linked to the accumulation of stress and/or trauma. Brainspotting can produce a deep relaxation, reducing or eliminating body pain and tension, as well as freeing us up emotionally.

Brainspotting can be an effective treatment tool for:

  • Physical and emotional trauma
  • Recovery from injury and accident trauma
  • Trauma resulting from medical interventions and treatment
  • Stress and trauma-related medical illness
  • Performance issues, including sexual dysfunction
  • Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions
  • Addictions, especially cravings
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Perceptual problems
  • Stuttering
  • Environmental Illlness and CFS
  • Phobias
  • Asthma
  • Preparation and recovery from surgery
  • Trauma resulting from war and natural disasters
  • Anger and rage problems
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Management of major medical illness

Call me at 770-789-0847 or see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com for a free consultation to see if Brainspotting is the right choice for you!

Natural Help for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Postpartum depression and anxiety can be unexpected and terrifying.

The baby is here and everyone is so excited. Except that you can’t seem to find the joy you thought you would have. You know you should be enjoying your new baby but instead you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and depressed. You are wondering what could be wrong with you. Nothing about being a mother seems as it should. You know you should be enjoying your baby but you can’t seem to engage. You can’t seem to snap out of it, there simply isn’t the energy.

If you are experiencing post-partum depression you may:

  • have difficulty sleeping or want to sleep too much
  • feel like crying and be sad much of the time
  • be irritable and moody
  • have difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • lack of energy and feel exhausted
  • feel disconnected from your baby
  • feel guilty or inadequate as a mother
  • have trouble bonding with and relating to your baby

Or, if you are like some mothers, you may experience a lot of anxiety. You may be constantly afraid that something terrible will happen to your baby.

You may feel you can’t relax even when your baby is fine or you are tormented with some of the following:

  • excessively worrying that your baby will get sick
  • constantly checking to see if your baby is safe
  • thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby that you can’t seem to stop

You may also feel guilty for having some of these and fear that you are a bad mother. You know that what you imagine are things you would never do, and yet, you still have trouble controlling the thoughts.

If you have these kinds of thoughts, you may feel alone with them. You may fear telling anyone because you are terrified of what they may think or do. You feel ashamed.
This leaves you feeling very alone as if there is no one you can talk to.

The big secret that no one talks about: Feelings of both anxiety and depression are common after childbirth.

Most mothers (up to 80%) experience some emotional sensitivity (also known as the “baby blues.”) in the 1st week after childbirth. These feelings usually go away on their own within 24 to 72 hours in the majority of new mothers.

However, if you experience depression or any of the above symptoms for longer than 2 weeks within the 1st year of childbirth, you may be experiencing some form of postpartum depression or anxiety. If this sounds like you, the important thing to know is that counseling or therapy can help you resolve post-partum depression. Research shows that early identification and treatment is vital for you and your baby.

Studies show that babies whose mothers have untreated maternal depression and anxiety that last longer than six months may:

  • tend to be irritable and are difficult to console
  • smile less and are less engaged socially
  • are at risk for not bonding as strongly with their mothers
  • have cognitive delays and later learning difficulties
  • have delays in language development
  • exhibit behavioral problems from preschool to high school

The good news is that with counseling or therapy more than 80% percent of women with postpartum depression and anxiety recover completely within one year.

 

Counseling can successfully reduce depression and anxiety during pregnancy and afterwards. It is often a treatment of choice because of concerns of antidepressant medication while breastfeeding.

BENEFITS of counseling for post-partum depression and anxiety:

  • bring a sense joy to the time you spend with your baby
  • boost your confidence as a mother
  • feel good about yourself and your life again
  • gain control over the negative emotions and replace them with positive ones
  • prevent cognitive, emotional and social problems of your child
  • improve your relationship with your baby

 

As a psychotherapist working with post-partum and pregnancy related issues, it is my passion to provide support for the entire family. I have witnessed many women who were initially depressed and anxious feel better about themselves as a mother. I have helped post-partum women overcome shame and guilt and feel competent and happy as mothers. I can also work with you and your baby to help you become aware of your baby’s cues, so that you can build your confidence in interacting with him or her.I may also invite you to bring your partner who may be feeling helpless or guilty for not been able to help you.

Your whole family may benefit from counseling if you are suffering from post-partum depression and anxiety.

 

Although medication for postpartum depression and anxiety is helpful, many women look for an alternative to drug therapy, which in many cases causes them to have to quit breastfeeding.  Therapy is the safest treatment that you can receive while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also helps you resolve the root cause of your depression in a safe and healthy way.

Please see my website www.carolyntuckertherapist.com or call me at 770-789-0847 for a free consultation! I offer therapy via SKYPE as well as in person for your convenience!

Postpartum depression and anxiety can be unexpected and terrifying.

Postpartum anxiety and depression can rob you of the joy of having your baby and can interfere with bonding between you and your baby.