Category Archives: Self-esteem

Anxiety and you

Have you felt anxious at some point in your life?

Frequent worrier?

Have illness, being fired, feeling discriminated, unemployment, job searching, new job, moving to a new city— made you feel stressed and overloaded?

Have you had full blown panic attacks – chest pain, palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath and dizziness?

Is your anxiety becoming part of a cycle of doubt, worry, fear, inaction, paralysis, depression?

“You need some anxiety in your life and it’s there for a reason. It’s what motivates us to work and keeps us out of trouble,” says Dr. Tom Rebori, medical director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Center at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Illinois.

If anxiety is interfering with your daily life – disrupting sleep or concentration – it could mean that you have an anxiety disorder. New treatments and research offer good news: anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

Here are the four main anxiety disorders, plus tips and techniques to cope with them and learn to deal with them.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

In the last six months, have you spent half of the days worrying?

Excessive worrying — which interferes with daily life — also causes physical symptoms like low energy, sleep disturbances, muscle tension, sweating, nausea and difficulty concentrating.

Here are two ways of coping.

Keep a worry log so you see patterns and learn to replace negative thinking with another thought until you gradually change your inner dialogue.

Set up “worry periods.” Dr. Dave Carbonell at Anxiety Treatment Center in New York tells patients to set up two 10-minute worry periods every day where they can isolate themselves. By giving their full attention to the worry, it becomes boring because there’s not that much content to it.

Panic Disorder

Scared of losing control, that you’re dying or fearful that you’re going crazy?

Panic attacks occur in certain settings—a crowded mall, elevators. You can associate a situation with that reaction and start avoiding certain situations. Just because you’ve had a panic attack doesn’t mean you have panic disorder, though, unless you’ve had at least two unexpected panic attacks, followed by at least one month of concern about experiencing another attack.

Getting to understand what’s happening is key to treating the disorder: facing (not avoiding certain situations), accepting (not fighting the panic attack, but welcoming it), floating (relaxing through the anxiety without resistance, like floating through water) and letting time pass (knowing that the attack will pass).


Social phobias involve an intense fear of situations – usually social or performance-related settings – for fear of having a panic attack.

Specific phobias involve an excessive fear of an object or situation that causes anxious symptoms similar to a panic attack.

Social phobias are treated the same as panic disorders. For specific phobias, the common treatment is gradual exposure.

The first step is to talk about the fear to begin to understand that you won’t die or go crazy when in contact with object or situation.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Whereas GAD patients worry about the future, PTSD involves worrying about something that happened.

PTSD is a condition where sufferers have been through some kind of traumatic experience. The symptoms are a heightened degree of arousal, nightmares or recurring thoughts, feelings of detachment, sleep problems, high startle response or jumpiness, flashbacks and depression.

Treatment is learning how to live in the present through relaxation.

Anxiety disorder symptoms can come and go. Yet it makes common sense to ease stress, eat healthier and exercise – lifetime habits that will help in the long run.

Set aside time every day for relaxing – use aPrayer, meditate, go for a mindful walk, enjoy a hot or naked yoga session, listen to music, soak in a hot bath – anything where you’re just being you.

For more information:

Edmund J. Bourne, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, New Harbinger Publications: 2000.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

National Institute of Mental Health


Are you a good judge of people?

Do you focus on extrinsic markers — academic scores, net worth, social status, job titles?

Social media has added new layers of extrinsic scoring:

How many friends do they have on Facebook?

Who do we know in common through LinkedIn?

How many Twitter followers do they have?

These extrinsic markers, however, only tell one part of a person’s story. They are necessary, but not sufficient.


Integrity for today’s man

Recently, Catholics celebrated the feast of Saint Alberto Hurtado, a modern saint born in Chile.

A man ahead of his time in his approach to social issues, Fr. Alberto insisted “injustice cause[d] far more evil than [could] be repaired by charity.”

Today, how do you advocate for integrity and justice?

Do you take upon yourself the hard tasks of reading, analyzing, planning and acting on your choices and plans?

How do you deepen that contemplative look, taking in the whole world and seeing how things truly are?

Remember, as Ellie Wiesel once wrote, “one person of integrity can make a difference.”

Today, make a difference in your life or someone’s life.


Photo courtesy of Carlos Mendez.

Passion back in fashion

What is your passion?

Start defining your passions in life by thinking about other things first! Ask yourself these questions. It’s a good practice to take stock from year to year as there are likely changes of which you must become aware.

What’s my mission?

Have you defined your mission to help you choose a course of action?

What are my strengths, values and skills?

How can I bring my purpose to life?

How do I define the contribution I want to make?

How can I bring that contribution I want to make to life?

How will my purpose be meaningful to others?

What is the solution specific to your skill set that will bring the purpose that is meaningful enough to generate the passion I will need to sustain it?

How will I amplify it?

What will I share and how much?

What do I listen for to be truly engaged, genuine and meaningful?


Is it time to think about your life?

A few questions to ponder…

Do you have a strong self-concept, a powerful sense of your own worth and potential?

How are you dealing with and solving problems in your life?

How can you improve the quality of your relationships with family, friends, fiduciaries and co-workers?

Do you present your opinions and views and speak assertively or aggressively?

Do you have the information, knowledge, and understanding of larger issues that affect you?

Do you and make healthy lifestyle and life choices?

What’s your ability to respond?

Are you setting and achieving goals?

Do you know and understand that you can have an impact on the world?

Do you create projects that improve the lives others and strengthen communities?


Are you a self-doubting Thomas or Joe or Pete or Chris?

In Mind Traps: Change Your Mind Change Your Life, Tom Rusk explains self-doubt as something far deeper than your inability to accept your talents and attributes.

“Self-doubt is a mental abscess,” writes Rusk, “which can penetrate to the very essence of your being.”

It is a “slow-growing but highly adaptable fungus, self-doubt is a creeping rot which eats away at your sense of worth. It can be so insidious you may be unaware of its damaging effect on your life.”

How pervasive and invasive is self-doubt?

For Rusk, it is “extremely durable; it is resistant to all but the most sophisticated and determined efforts at eradicating it. Introduced by painful experiences in childhood, self-doubt weaves itself into the fabric of your identity.”

You disguise self-doubt as truth: you keep repeating those negative automatic thoughts and you keep using self-defeating attitudes — which are Rusk’s mind traps.

Self-doubt influences every aspect of your life — from work to relationships. Mind traps ensnare you so that no matter how much some people may love and respect you, you still doubt yourself and you sabotage your own welfare.

How dedicated and determined are you to uproot and eradicate your self-doubt?


Are you an integral man?

Integrity means making three agreements with yourself.

You say “yes” when you mean yes.

You say “no” when you mean no.

You always do what you say you are going to do.

Does integrity mean something different to you?


What to write in your journal

Here are a few ideas to keeping a great journal:

Journals should be snapshots filled with sights, sounds, smells, concerns, insights, doubts, fears, and critical questions about issues, people and, most importantly, yourself.

Write freely. A journal is not a work log of tasks, events, times and dates.
Grammar or spelling should not be stressed in your writing yet notice repetitions or patterns. These may tell you about how you pay attention to details or if they affect your other writings.

Write an entry each day. If you can’t write a full entry, jot down random thoughts, images so that you can return later and expand into a colorful verbal picture.

Honesty is the most important element to successful journals.

See Reflection: Getting Learning Out of Serving, Mark Cooper.

Focusing on your own internal controls

Back in the Sixties, Julian Rotter posited that those individuals with an internal locus of control, which describes the degree to which individuals perceive that outcomes result from their own behaviors or from forces that are external to themselves, tend to:

+ Engage in activities that will improve their situation

+ Emphasize striving for achievement

+ Work hard to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities

+ Be inquisitive

+ Try to figure out why things turned out the way they did

+ Note information they can use to create positive outcomes in the future

+ Have a more participatory management style

See, Rotter, JB, “Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement,” Psychological Monographs, 80 No. 609, 1966.

Do you feel you have freedom to choose?

No one, as Victor Frankl writes, can take away “your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation in any moment.”