Tag Archives: fears

What if we view anxiety as what it means to be human?

Do you often feel guilty that you struggle with anxiety? Do you beat yourself up afterwards? When you hear, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything and with thanksgiving present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6-7) do you feel more burdened knowing that you are often anxious and filled with worry?

Indeed the Scriptures speak very frequently about our anxieties and worries. Might it be that it is a human experience (this side of the Fall) that will not be removed? If you worried less about your worries; if you felt less shame and guilt for them, how might that change how you respond to your worries?


I leave you with this thought as you ponder your way of responding to your worry. Psalm 56:3 says, When I am afraid I put my trust in you. It doesn’t say that such trust erases fear. You can be afraid and be full of anxiety and trust God in the middle of that experience. One does not necessarily invalidate the other.



Filed under Anxiety, Uncategorized

Perpetuating vulnerable feelings?

Feel unsure of your mate’s love for you? Should you tell them that you are not feeling safe or secure in the relationship? When you tell them (accuse them of not caring?) and they profess their love for you, what will tell you that you can believe their promises? What will tell you to doubt their words?

Two Yale University psychologists (E. Lemay, Jr and M. Clark) explore this problem in 2008 in their “Walking on Eggshells: How Expressing Relationship Insecurities Perpetuates Them” (Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, v95, 420-441).

Their study is fairly long (5 studies in fact). But here are some key points.

When people feel insecure about a partner’s regard and acceptance, they often judge their own prior behavior as having communicated insecurity and emotional vulnerability to the partner. Consequently, they come to believe that they are viewed as especially insecure and vulnerable. Then, due to shared beliefs that people walk on eggshells around insecure, vulnerable others, such reflected appraisals of vulnerability elicit doubts about the authenticity of the partner’s expressions of regard and acceptance. Once authenticity is doubted, positive expressions are discounted, negative expressions are augmented, and hidden negative regard is inferred even when partners are accepting and actually hold positive regard. (p. 436)

What they are saying is that our own anxiety fuels are belief that they know we are vulnerable and are tiptoeing around us and that we doubt they love us and then we read their actions through a lens that denies the evidence of love and declares their love to be inauthentic. Which of course, we then share with them. Repeat this action and sooner or later they don’t want to be declared a liar anymore and distance from us thereby proving our deepest fears of abandonment.

In short, anticipated rejection leads to presumption that it has happened and that any activity countering that presumption is rejected and re-read through the lens of rejection. Because that is what we believe happens to weak people–they are abandoned.

So, should we keep our fears to ourself? No say the researchers. Then what should be done? The researchers say only a little on this (since it is not the focus of their research here). But, challenging cognitive distortions are at the top their list? What distortions in particular? Believing that others see you as weak as you feel; challenging the interpretations of another’s motivation. Also in their suggestions is practicing reading the commitment of the mate to the relationship by re-appraising and collecting the evidence of authentic responses from that mate.

The next time you feel the need to express your fears that your mate doesn’t really love you check to see whether your insecurity isn’t already telling you the answer you fear and rejecting evidence to the contrary. Dig a little and you may be able to find evidence that shows they love you. Then, be specific and tell them one concrete thing you would like to see changed, something that bothers you. Do it in love so as to not trigger their fears that you do not love them. Be wary of listening too much to your fears!


Filed under Anxiety, counseling science, Psychology

Top 10 Counselor Nightmares

No classes today because of the holiday. Next week, we’ll be discussing the perils and pitfalls of being a counselor. In partial jest here’s my “top 10” counselor nightmares. A few of these happened to me, some happened to my friends and others are just fears: 

10. Someone from your past shows up as a counselee or at a seminar you give and they know all your immaturities

9. You run into a counselee from a couple of years ago and although they are grateful for your help,  you don’t remember ever meeting them before

8. Spending the whole hour with a new client and your fly was down and open the whole time

7. Same as 8 but you passed gas

6. Its time to pray at the end of the session and as you go to pray for them you can’t remember their name and so you have to pray for your “brother” instead.

5. You worked really hard helping a resistant client learn something and then they come in and tell you that their aunt told them this amazing thing (the thing you have been trying to tell them for 6 months) and now they wonder why you didn’t help them.

4. You come to the waiting room only to find you double booked by mistake.

3. You’re at the hospital having a colonoscopy and you find out the nurse assisting is your client who probably hates you

2. You fall asleep in session for a few minutes and wake up wondering how long it has been and whether they noticed or not (they did!)

1. Subpoena and/or call from the licensing board


Filed under Psychology