Letting our problems build up by pushing them off to the side or belittling their impact only causes us anxiety and depression later on. By believing the issues we have deserve no energy to think about we start loading up an imaginary cart. We tow this cart until it gets so heavy we can’t possible take another step. We end up breaking down as the cart propels itself down hill uncontrollably while we hold on for dear life on our ” baggage joy ride”
When we loss control of our baggage cart (the cart we so meticulously loaded) we get anxious. Trying relentlessly to keep the cart rolling along like “normal”, avoiding any pot holes that could tip us over, spilling all our dirty laundry and unkempt trappings for all to see…even more frightening for us to see. These “pot holes” could be a nosey friend, a concerned family member, a therapist, any one who pokes around asking the “wrong” questions. Even reading material that seems to confront the very things we hold secret. Depression builds as we keep distancing ourselves from our emotions. It is only human to feel and it is very human to avoid feeling anything uncomfortable. Our natural human survival or defense responses to things like rejection or embarrassment can be polar opposite to what actually frees us from stress and overwhelming sadness. We are not helping anyone by keeping our emotions and problems locked up. We are certainly hurting ourselves and often without realizing it, we are hurting our relationships with others by becoming emotionally unavailable. When a person is depressed it is hard for them to connect with others. We are in a fog, we only seem to see the negative. Why even try to go through all the gruesome problems that hurt? Will it not only hurt more to keep dwelling on it? We feel trapped and our problems are running a muck. We have lost control.
If you have read the previous post “Letting Go of Control” then you know there are some things in life we can not control. Our emotional pain or direct problems on the other hand are very much of our concern. Somethings we must let go of because there is nothing we can do about them. But for the things we can do, we must work up the strength to face them. It is much easier to toss an issue under the rug and claim we were simply over reacting rather than to confront it. When our loved one belittled our efforts in front of others we might think we deserved the harsh words. Or maybe we know it was wrong for them to do that but think we are keeping the peace in the relationship by keeping quiet or that some how we are being selfless for taking it on the chin. After a while of this we have loaded our cart with issues, some small some large. And now we are under such pressure we become deflated. Out of energy we start down the path to depression. Every day we wake up strap on the ropes to haul the cart and when the day is done we’ve added ten more bags then we had before. We go to bed with unresolved issues and turn around and do it all over again the next day.
The anxiety mixes in a little too well here. We get stressed out and anxious assuming only more weight will be added to our already overbearing load. We know it is only a matter of time until we snap under the pressure. Panic attacks are common when we live this way. We may seek out medication or a vacation hoping this will bring our nerves down. Some of us may very well need these things but if we do not deal with the underlying problems we will forever be in a downward tail spin of emotions.
It is scary and we may not be perfect at dealing with problems especially if our go to response has always been to sweep things under the rug. We will probably be shaky with it and make some mistakes. We may over react, we may even be accused of strange behavior. But if we have never tried dealing with issues straight away before than, it is strange to us.
Try taking an issue that comes up and dealing with it as soon as it happens. Lets say your partner says something demeaning to you or rude, they point out a way they think you didn’t measure up. You could say “do you know it really hurts me when you say things like that to me?” if they come back with something like “well I wouldn’t have to get on your case if you were more responsible” then you could try saying “I realize my behavior upsets you and I am open to talking about that, but I am also hurt by the way you spoke to me”. Doing this calmly and choosing our words carefully we start to have discussions rather than “fights”. A lot of the time (assuming the other person is some what reasonable) a compromise or a solution can be reached and you’ve successfully dealt with an issue without having to load it in your cart.
Other issues we have may not involve working things out with people but with ourselves. Sometimes there is deep emotional pain we carry that can not simply be compromised away. Self acceptance issues, death, abuse of any kind or even if you haven’t a clue what you are depressed about these are issues to consult a counselor on. They often bring light into areas you never knew were affecting you and help guide you to a path that completely changes your life, usually for the better.
Some anxiety and depression stems from the external. Things happen to us and we react as humans do. We are not perfect, we have great capacity for compassion, love and understanding of each other. Find someone you can trust to help unload your heavy cart. A counselor is a wonderful person to help work out any depression or anxiety that burdens you. Remember to be gentle with yourself and love yourself.