Mental Health And Parental Programming

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…from folk wisdom to scientific study, all agree that conditions and character are passed down from generation to generation, whether by nature or nurture. Though most generational physical diseases have a genetic (nature) element, many behavioral conditions seem to be generational mostly by nurture, or parental programming. Since Mom and Dad didn’t set out to mess us up, it’s important we understand their roles in our mental health and find a way to get beyond our programming and become who we want to be. That’s what this article is about.

Patterns Of Anxiety, Anger, Addiction, Depression, Etc: My father has been dead over 30 years, but I often find myself leaning on my porch rail exactly as he did. I first discovered his subconscious influence on my life when I began verbally abusing my wife for no reason. That sparked what has become a 20-year study in human behavior. The patterns exist in every family, for good and bad, alike. With a few exceptions, traits of kindness and decency, addiction, cruelty, even odd tilts of the head and other quirks are found throughout every family. I believe these things could even be mapped if you had enough generational information.

Family behavioral traits are so reliable that many have tried to prove a genetic cause. While it’s convenient to pin our bad behavior or mental health issues on our genes, that kind of thinking may duck very real causes and prevent us from embracing possible solutions to our problems. After all, if it’s in your genes, you are helpless, right? Wrong! Even if there is a genetic predisposition for your anxiety, depression or addiction, just like cancer, it doesn’t mean you can’t avoid or recover from the condition.

Mental Health Isn’t Always In The Genes: While researchers have found some suspected physical causes of a few mental health issues, most are considered to be psychological in nature. This is why, for anxiety, depression, anger, addiction, pedophilia, anorexia, bulimia and all phobias, the preferred therapy is psychological counseling. Although the more severe of these conditions may also require medicine, it’s usually just to ease discomfort. In many cases, over time, a therapist can get back to one or two “root causes” and greatly ease the condition. In most cases, this isn’t possible because the root cause is a lifetime of experience rather than a single traumatic event. This is what many refer to as programming. Some call it a “cache” of experiences, just like your computer cache stores copies of pages visited. Unfortunately, we can’t just tell our brains to clear the cache, or selectively remove the “bad” experiences. We are “programmed” by these experiences because they form the basis of our actions and reactions from now on.

Programming…Understanding Normal: For most of us, even before we could speak, we learned how to be “normal” parents, spouses, employees, neighbors and citizens from our parents. These were sometimes very dysfunctional lessons because they didn’t know they were teaching us…they thought they were just living. You parents, please re-read the previous two sentences until you realize the importance of your every thought, word and action in the lives of your children and theirs. For most of us, despite how we hated the behavior of our parents, we became them. We became addicts, abusers, liars, complainers, cowards…whatever their chief characteristics, we acquired them. Why not? So far as we knew, that was normal. A few thousand years ago, a guy named Solomon wrote that we tend to become like those we hang around. Well, we hung around our parents for the first couple decades of our lives. Like it or not, unless we go to great effort to change our programming, the apple will not fall far from the tree. I’ve known a precious few who changed that initial programming and decided for themselves who they wanted to be.

Changing A Faulty Program: Changing these deep-seated programs is not easy, and requires great effort. That’s probably why many therapists opt for sympathy rather than help…sympathy is what most people want from them, because change is more work than they’re willing to do. The work is in changing your attitude…how you think and feel…rather than your behavior. Before you set out on this path, make sure you’ve explained what you’re doing with those who are closest to you because even a positive change in someone can be frightening if unexplained. Make sure they all know you still love them and are just working to improve some things about yourself. Also, let them know you’re not expecting them to change anything, just be patient with you. Once that’s done, you’re ready to begin.

Take a day or two to identify all the emotions, attitudes and character traits you no longer want in yourself…make a list. You’re not going to do anything with this except refer to it in years to come. The way to overcome these traits is by spending all your energy on new traits you want to cultivate into your life. So, take a day or two to identify the 10 or so character traits you want to build your life around. Use character traits of people you admire, for ideas. Now, take a day or so to define each of those character traits, then prioritize them.

Turn those traits into positive, present-tense statements that you will recite multiple times each day, and memorize over time. These are the new rules you will live your life by, so they must become as familiar to you as breathing. Post these traits on the mirror in your bathroom. Keep a copy with you and review them while you’re waiting in line or for an appointment. As you plan your business and personal activities, make sure you’re incorporating these character traits into every decision and action. During the day and at the end of the day, take a little time to assess your behavior against your new set of character traits. You don’t need to punish yourself or get down on yourself when, not if, you fail from time to time. Use these failures to learn new ways of handling situations in the future. That way, every failure becomes the root of a better future.

If you stay committed to your new set of traits and do the hard work I just described, you’ll see character changes in as little as a month. Still, as life situations change, you’ll discover long-hidden attitudes that are part of the old life rather than the new, so you’ll need to change them. You’ll also discover adjustments you need to make to your list of character traits. This takes time! It took your whole life to become who you are, so don’t think becoming who you want to be will happen quickly. After a year, look at the old list of discarded traits and compare your present behavior…you’ll see big changes. After 10 years, you might not be able to imagine how anybody could have the character traits on that old list, then it will hit you…that’s who you used to be. In my own experience, this process helped save my marriage, eliminate several addictions and anxieties and dramatically change my life to one devoted to helping others with their problems.

This article isn’t meant to suggest that all mental health issues can be resolved in this self-help manner. Always get advice from a professional therapist when dealing with mental health issues. That said, I can’t imagine a psychological condition that wouldn’t be greatly improved by this proactive, self-help process. Whether the cause is nature or nurture, as I see it, we who have faulty programming have two choices. We can wait for the scientists to develop a successful treatment for our problems…or…we can take responsibility for our own mental health and start treating ourselves while the scientists are figuring it out. Which choice has the most promise for your recovery.

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Facing Anxiety in the Workplace


Almost everybody, no matter how confident they may seem, has a great fear of the unknown. Everybody has his own anxieties and combating fear is such a great challenge for everyone. For some, it may even be a source of entertainment as portrayed in the hit reality TV show “Fear Factor”.

Anxiety is something not just shown on TV, it is something very real. One place that can create great anxiety in people can also be the place where most people built their careers and the place where they get their own source of income – the workplace.

Work is one of the leading sources of stress and anxiety. Dealing with strict supervisors, chances of a demotion, whether you can get your job done on time and ultimately, the fear of getting fired can really give every worker something to be anxious about.

In any workplace, there is an existing system that you are forced to adhere to. These may include rules, regulations and office policies. Sometimes anxiety is brought about the fact that there may be some conflict of interest between doing what you think is right and what the present system dictates. This may be further illustrated when workers have to deal with customers or with their relationship with their co-workers. It is human nature to ease his or her own anxiety – either by adapting or leaving your workplace.

The first step in combating anxiety is to accept that you are undergoing such stage. No matter how society might judge you, seeking professional help is greatly recommended.

You can also effectively lessen anxiety with physical workouts. Studies show that breathing exercises using the diaphragm muscle can lessen anxiety. Yoga is also a popular and unconventional way of managing anxiety. It allows oxygen to circulate efficiently inside your brain and this can help you relax and think more clearly.

You can also try simple steps in eliminating anxiety. The first thing to do is to jot down your strengths and your weakness. Focus on your goals and point out what you can do to achieve them. Talking to someone is very important in coping with anxiety. You can have a casual talk with your friend or spouse over the matter. They may not give you solid solutions to your problem but letting it all out can help a lot.

Worrying Less About Anxiety

Much has been said these days about depression. You do not have to wait very long when watching TV before a commercial for the latest antidepressant medication fills the screen. But anxiety, another relatively common mental health concern, gets little press. Yet, millions of people will experience anxiety at some point in the lives.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety can be debilitating. It is primarily characterized by excessive worry, the kind that interrupts or prevents your sleep and seems to take over your life. This worry occurs more days than not and is difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to control.

People with anxiety feel restless or “keyed up.” They describe being “on edge” or “wound too tightly” or “high strung.” Because so much energy is needed to worry for weeks or months or even years on end, folks with anxiety are often exhausted. This extreme fatigue leads to an inability to focus or concentrate and in many cases, causes irritability.

Other anxiety symptoms include nausea, jitteriness, racing heart, a “lump in the throat” feeling, and sweating. Escalating anxiety can lead to panic, accompanied by chest pains and a feeling of suffocation, because severe anxiety sufferers unconsciously hold their breath or breathe too shallowly. They may even think they are having a heart attack–very distressing indeed!

In addition to these symptoms, anxiety also causes muscle tension and achiness, leading people to think they are sick with a flu or other illness. Anxiety is so stressful it taxes the immune system, which can lead to physical sickness.

Causes of Anxiety

There is some evidence to suggest that anxiety may have a chemical or genetic basis. So if you have a parent with anxiety, you are more likely to have anxiety yourself. However, anxiety also can be a learned behavior. If you grew up seeing Mom or Dad fret a lot over life, you may have subconsciously adopted this way of being as your own.

Anxiety can be related to a medical condition, like hypothyroidism. Or it can be linked to a medical event, such as an upcoming surgery or medical procedure. It also can be connected to a trauma–an assault, tornado, hurricane, house fire, serious car accident–any situation that threatens your life or the life of someone close to you.

Treatment of Anxiety

Unfortunately, too many people decide that anxiety is a condition to be endured. Still others think they are going “crazy” and fear the ramifications of disclosing how they feel. This is sad, because help is available.

Many of the anti-depressant medications on the market today also are used to treat anxiety. Other drugs specific to anxiety are available for short-term treatment. However, according to recent research, drugs alone are not the best long-term solution. Medication combined with cognitive/behavioral psychotherapy is considered best practice today.

It is vital that people learn to recognize their anxiety, deal with self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, develop coping strategies, and reduce stress. All of these can be accomplished with the help of a trusted mental health professional. There is tremendous therapeutic value in talking through your losses, traumas, and medical complications. A relationship-oriented therapist also can help your family members understand anxiety and learn ways to help you through it.

Cure Anxiety and Stress

How can we cure something without knowing the cause? Is there such a thing as a “cure” for anxiety and stress? What approach should we take. And the most common question is can I find natural ways to subside these problems. In this article we will attempt to answer all of these questions and more.

First thing we should look at is causes. Most anxiety is caused by stress, but what kind of stress? Many people have financial, health, family, job related or relationship stress. Chances are you’ll never eliminate all stress 100%, there will always be room for growth and change. Stress is a normal human characteristic. For now we need to find the source of our anxiety, which means finding the most stress in our lives at this moment.

Depending on what we’re stress about, this will define the course of action that will need to be applied. If it’s our job or income we may need to seek better employment, If it’s health go see a doctor, relationship we may need to sit with our spouse and talk or attend counseling. These are just a few vague examples of what could be bothering you and contributing to your anxiety and some sort of solution. If your grieving over a recent lost of a loved one, this also could bring about depression and in return stress and anxiety. All of these could be tied up together.

What we are trying to say is you can’t cure something, when you don’t know what to cure “make sense”. If medication is needed please take it, we try to avoid medication for side affect reasons and addiction or dependency issues.

Quite often if you can eliminate the stress the rest will follow. A few extra measures you could take might be healthy eating, easy listening music or just free relaxing time for yourself doing something you really enjoy.

Alleviating Anxiety to Prevent Panic Attacks

One of the most important issues with many of us is our mental health. And no wonder, our brain is the architect of everything that our body does and how we think. And while there are many different threats to our long term mental health, this article is primarily focused on alleviating anxiety.

But let me back up a bit and explain a little what anxiety is. It is the manifestation of our anxieties due to fear and phobias as well as other worrying influences in our lives. Excessive worrying can lead up to anxiety attacks. And just the thought of having another excessive anxiety attack can lead up to panic attacks in which our body actually ‘thinks’ it is facing danger and reacts according.

Now the panic attacks can have so many different symptoms. It really depends on the person. But let’s just start at the beginning and deal with anxiety and ways for alleviating anxiety before it gets out of hand.

The very first thing I recommend of course is that you see your family doctor or someone in the medical field for diagnosis and recommendations. This is really important because many anxiety and panic attack symptoms can be similar to symptoms from more serious medical issues. So you want to be sure that it is just anxiety attacks or panic attacks that you are really suffering from.

From that point on… there are ways that you can stop them or at the very least manage your anxieties so they wont’ run your life.

Now, your doctor may want to prescribe something for you or refer you to a therapist. They may not be the solution that you are looking for. However, there are some self-help ways that are effective for stopping the anxiety or panic attacks.

One way for alleviating anxiety is to manage your stress levels. And I’m not so surprised about this suggestion because in this day and age, stress is becoming one of the growing threats to our mental health.

There are tons of ways to manage or control your stress. You can’t avoid stress but you sure can keep the debilitating effects of excessive stress from happening to you.

One of the most common ways to deal with stressful situations is to walk away from it if you can. Just take a break, so to speak. Your stressor could be a person, place or event. Sometimes it can even just be the thoughts that are running through our heads. Those thoughts are most likely NOT to be true, but it won’t stop these undesirable thoughts from popping up in our heads and running over and over again.

One way to deal with those thoughts is meditation. Try some yoga or some meditation walking. Meditation by and large is the process of focusing internally. On your breathing and body. And ignoring the stray thoughts or detracting thoughts. Many practitioners swear by it.

Other ideas for avoiding stress and in a larger sense, alleviating anxiety is to take a nice warm/hot bath with soft music and scented candles. Really, the world is truly your oyster when you realize that only you can create the stage of your life.

But you may have to try different things before you find the stress relieving technique that works well for you. Because as they say, everyone body’s is different.

Another way for alleviating anxiety is to go through your daily routines and make each one as simple as possible. For me, I love to make “to do” lists at the beginning of each day. And try to focus on completing those tasks. At the least, the important tasks. And for the medium or not-so-important tasks… if you can’t do them, it’s OK! As long as you do the important stuff, other stuff can be optional.