I was sick all week, so I had a lot of time to think about my new book, which is about curing the true root cause of unhappiness. Our failure to address this problem is why we keep reading self-help books, going to therapy, etc.
While this root cause has several branches, how to cure the symptom of generalized anxiety that plagues me and many others is what I want to share. I awakened with a feeling of dread that would not leave me, a feeling that something would go terribly wrong. The feeling dogged me all day, and I lost my confidence and started second-guessing myself, which made me feel even worse. When I asked myself what was wrong, no clear answers came. I felt like I was descending into deep gloom, so I used one of my favorite techniques for getting to the heart of the problem. It’s a part of the Word of the Day Practice, a thinking tool I named “Playing Dictionary.”
The technique is first to get yourself centered by taking two deep breaths using the “Four-in-four out” method and then to perform a Self-hug, another tool in the Word of the Day lexicon.
If you’re new to this blog, to perform the Self-hug, go look in your mirror, hug yourself, look into your own eyes, smile, and say aloud, “I love you,“ and add your name. Take another breath and say, “We’ll always be together,” after another breath, say, “And we’ll always be safe.” Take two more breaths, smile, and notice how much better you feel.
Then I went to my desk, closed my eyes for about a minute, got very centered using my Gathering Technique, and asked myself, “What is the root of this bad feeling I’m having?”
I opened my eyes and grabbed the first book I saw, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Brandon. I turned to a random page and, without looking, put my finger on the text. My finger landed on a phrase, not a word: “How to tolerate more happiness?”
I was annoyed. What a stupid comment. Of course, I could tolerate as much happiness as possible, couldn’t I? And then it hit me: I had been so disappointed in my life that I was afraid that if I received more happiness, I would be disappointed again, and I didn’t think I could survive another loss. I felt my heart literally wrench in my chest, knew that I had arrived at the truth, and it was a shocker – my fear of disappointment was greater than my wish for more happiness.
I pondered: How happy am I now? I have a book that will be published in April 2024; my health is good, I have many friends, and I dance as often as I want to, so what was this feeling of dread about? What did I not have that I wanted?
I realized what bothered me: I didn’t have a romantic partner, though my cat might argue the point. I broke up with my live-in boyfriend of six years about 2 1/2 years ago. There was a lot of sadness about who he turned out to be, and although I’ve been happy being single until now when I got sick, I missed having somebody take care of me, although my cat did his best. Being bedridden brought up my desire to find the right relationship. Because of the unhappy ending and disappointment I endured, my longing for companionship set off the alarm bells. Instead of excitement at the prospect of something new and better, I was living under the assumption that I could only find another bad relationship! I don’t think that’s true,
But my unacknowledged fear of disappointment kept me from even considering that possibility! As soon as I acknowledged my fear, I immediately began to feel better!
The lesson for me is that being unaware of my own fears was the problem, and becoming aware would be the solution for anything that was bothering me. So next time you’re feeling upset, depressed, fearful, or angry and don’t know why, try this technique, and let me know how generating awareness and self-esteem works out for you.
Please join me for the next webinar on November 15.
Here’s to your writing success,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz