For the Next Time it Hits You – A Guide to Depression and Anxiety

Below are notes to myself so that the next time the depression/anxiety hits me I won’t forget what it is and how to resolve it. I compiled the extent of my knowledge after 3 years of study following a severe bout with this stuff.

The organization here is that there are 6 mini sections, and two more in depth sections, Messages from Another Part of You and Perspective.

But First
The Cliche
The Meds
….Don’t Leave Yourself
Messages From Another Part of You
When the Body Says No
It’s not Serotonin
……A Super Power?
Nurse Maxine
The Security Officer
Don’t Dig Deep, Don’t Power Through
Thought patterns
Worry Well…Once
Self Concept is Destiny
The Existential Crisis
Religious Guilt
Let Go of Everything Besides Your Values

But First

Have you heard of neuroplasticity and epigenetics? Whatever it is that you’re going through, however “broken” your brain or body may be at the moment, just remember, this stuff is fixable.

Perhaps the most important dose of medicine I ever got was on my second day in the St Mary’s Women’s Psych ward. My first consultation with Dr Wasserman. At the end of our session I asked him “Am I going to get through this?” And he just said “Of course you will!” 

The Cliche

It’s a cliche that you go to a Psychiatrist or therapist  and the first thing they say is “tell me about your childhood, tell me about your Mother.” and a lot of people dismiss this as quackery. Like hey, my mother has nothing to do with this issue I’m dealing with at work!

But, once you dig into the science behind mental health you realize this is the most important question to ask! Really, it makes perfect sense.

You see the environment you were in when your brain and autonomic nervous system were forming, determines how they formed. If you grew up in a chaotic home you very likely developed an over sensitive nervous system and now have hypervigilance. And this wasn’t a biological error, this was your body developing in a way appropriate to the challenges you faced at that time. It’s just that now, 3 decades later, it might not be working so well for you any more. And quite likely this is a factor in that issue you’re having at work.

An analogy here is to imagine the environment you were raised in as determining the operating system that got installed in your brain and nervous system.

If you worked in IT at an office and someone came to you and said “hey this program won’t install on my computer.” Your first question is likely to be “well what operating system are you running?”

You need to know what operating system you’re running. It will explain a lot of the errors that you’re experiencing, and it might be time to switch to a new one. 

The Meds

If the meds help you, take the meds! But not for longer than you need to.

There is growing evidence that the Serotonin imbalance theory of depression is inaccurate. It would seem that depression is not caused by a lack of Serotonin. The science is of course complex, but you can read the studies on this one. 

The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence

These meds, the SSRI’s/SNRI’s, likely are mostly pain killers. Still, these meds can really help people. When you are in acute pain, take the pain killers! Reducing the pain not only saves lives, it can be a really important step in an overall recovery plan. 

The danger of taking the meds for too long is that your body might adjust and they may stop working, or you may become comfortable enough that you lose motivation to solve the underlying problems. They can also be very difficult to come off of. So do be careful. 


Did you ever notice that the plot of every romcom or sitcom is the same? Someone is too embarrassed, shy, ashamed, etc, to just tell someone a very simple truth, so they lie. And then for 30 mins-2 hours we get to watch the snowballing consequences of their little lie. These shows are so popular because we can all relate. Most of us do this most of the time.

Authenticity is required for good health. Dr Gabor Mate discusses that here

More seriously than the silly sitcom examples, a lack of authenticity or a lack of self reference will put you at the bottom of a pit sooner or later. And this one can be complex. As I discovered, I had great authenticity in some areas of my life, and was utterly lacking it in others. I would sometimes be so lacking in self direction that I would get caught in what I now call the should spiral. Here is a very interesting moment that I had in dealing with the should spiral.

I was in the middle of an intense depressive episode. My mind was spinning out of control trying to figure out what I should do to relieve the situation. I was stumbling through the kitchen thinking “What should I be doing?!?!”, “What should I be doing?!?!”, “What should I be doing?!?!”, “What should I be doing?!?!”, “What should I be doing?!?!” And in the midst of this “should spiral” I heard a voice in my head. Don’t institutionalize me! I didn’t hear it with my ears, it was a thought. You can call it subconscious wisdom, intuition, a message from the beyond, who knows. But it was simple, “this experience is for you.”

There is no “should”, you do you. 

Don’t Leave Yourself

This one is hard to explain. Sometimes anxiety or even depression is triggered by living outside yourself. Worrying about tomorrow, worrying about someone else’s opinion, worrying about having failed to live up to someone else’s standards, on and on. We often do this so damn much that we don’t even realize it.

If you would like to fix this, if you would like to stop leaving yourself, then anxiety/depression can be a gift. It will often flare up every time you leave yourself. When you leave your own opinion worrying about someone else’s, when you leave yourself in time worrying about tomorrow, when you leave your values to meet with someone else’s.

The silver lining of these issues is that it can really reveal to you how often you leave yourself. 


While PTSD, or even complex PTSD, is not the same thing as anxiety or depression, they often go together and trauma can be part of the cause of anxiety and depression.

I know a man, a veteran, who for a time would counsel other veterans returning from combat, young men with PTSD. They would come to him and say things like “I’m so messed up.” and “What’s wrong with me?” And he would tell them “Nothing is wrong with you. This is how you should be feeling. If you had come back here from what you just experienced and were not having these symptoms, then I would be very worried about you.”

PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc. these are appropriate responses to troubling and sometimes just plain horrific events. If you have had these experiences “give yourself permission to have problems”, you should have problems, if you didn’t, I would be worried about you.

If you have trauma, processing that can be a necessary step in regaining your health.

The primary steps in recovering from trauma are…

  1. Get to safety
  2. Find a supportive and loving community
  3. Tell the story

This telling of the story can be very important. Not only is it important to process and properly encode the memory (a fragmented memory can be the cause of PTSD, etc.) but telling that story helps you to develop a narrative about your experiences. A narrative that is your own and not one that was pushed on you by the world around you.

You don’t have to post your stories to Facebook, you can tell a therapist, a friend, or just write it out in a journal.

This is of course a VERY complex topic! But here are some books that were helpful to me in understanding and processing things that were traumatic for me. Be careful, some of these are difficult reads. 

  • The Body Keeps the Score By Dr Bessel A. van der Kolk
  • The Myth of Normal By Gabor Maté MD
  • Trauma and Recovery By Judith Lewis Herman MD


It’s very possible that the “mental health” issues you are dealing with are caused by inflammation in your body and brain. It might be more of a gut issue than a mental issue. Or at least, for a lot of us, inflammation and gut health are very important puzzle pieces.

For me personally there is an intense correlation between my inflammation issues and my mental health issues. Generally with inflammation preceding or coinciding with the mental health issues. Of course correlation isn’t causation, but there is a lot of evidence to show that inflammation may indeed be causing mental health issues. 

A book that dives into this one in depth is The Inflamed Mind By Edward Bullmore.

TLDR: The mind and body actually aren’t that separate at all. And there is a lot of evidence to show that inflammation precedes and can even predict depression/anxiety.

So what to do about it? If you suspect that your depression/anxiety may be caused by inflammation, there are some rather simple ways to test this and improve the situation. …not fun or easy ways, but simple ones. Just reduce the inflammation in your body, and there are many ways to do that. 

  • Start eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Perhaps track your symptoms for a week and then try an elimination diet for a month and see if those symptoms improve. There are many types of diets that can reduce inflammation.
    • AIP – The Autoimmune Protocol Diet
    • Going Keto
    • The Paleo diet
  • Fasting. A variety of fasting methods can reduce inflammation. You can try anything from a basic 12 hr intermittent fast to the more extreme 5 day water fasts. Obvi, be very careful with that. 
  • Fixing vitamin deficiencies. A deficiency in certain vitamins such as D, magnesium, Zinc, etc. can cause inflammation and/or are associated with mental health issues. You can get your vitamin levels tested, you can take supplements, get injections, etc, etc. 
  • Meds. Some interesting uses of med can be very effective at reducing inflammation in the body. For example, LDN – Low Dose Naltrexone. 
  • Fix your microbiome. Do you have yeast problems? Have you had your microbiome checked? Maybe you can take a probiotic or eat more fiber and healthy fats, etc. 

A book that I haven’t read yet but is next on my list is The end of Mental Illness by Dr Daniel Amen. The book is about brain health, and from the interviews that I’ve seen him do for the book I believe it is packed full of strategies to improve brain health to eliminate mental health issues.

Messages From Another Part of You

A lot of times when we are feeling very difficult things we, very understandably, try to shove those feelings away. And you will often hear “you are not your feelings” or “don’t believe your feelings.” And there is some truth to this. I am not my rage, I am not my panic, I am not my despair, etc. 

However, emotions are simply signals from another part of yourself. It’s unwise to uncritically believe them, or to blindly act on them, but to ignore them, is to fracture yourself. 

It blows my mind how divorced from myself I was for really the majority of my life. And now that I’m so aware of that in myself I see it everywhere in others. I think most people are divorced from themselves. And it’s quite sad as our culture often perpetuates this by demonizing emotions.

Your emotions are messages from another part of you. When you demonize them and hide them away you are just demonizing yourself.

Your emotions are your insight into the world and your link to your own wisdom and history. Your emotions are supposed to be your besties, your guides, your informants.

It is very unwise to act on unprocessed emotions. It’s very unhealthy to suppress or deny emotions. The goal is to feel emotions, understand them, hear the messages they give, then act, consciously, on the knowledge gained from that.

This is encapsulated in one of my favorite lines from Star Trek Discovery when Michael Burnham says “Emotional considerations do not impede my logic, they inform my logic.”

When the Body Says No

Fracturing yourself is very dangerous. In fact it’s possible that your habit of not hearing the messages from yourself, and not respecting them, and/or not looking out for those other parts of yourself might be how you got into the health predicament that you are now in.

Dr Gabor Maté has written a number of books that have been incredibly valuable to me, including one titled When the Body Says No that walks through this concept.

The theory here is very interesting but, unsurprisingly, a bit complex. It’s about the human need for both attachment and for authenticity. We can learn to sacrifice authenticity for attachment, often out of necessity, but this leads to a constant state of stress. The constant stress from chronically suppressing and denying ourselves can lead to disease.

The book explains it much better than I can. But the moral of this story, like all the stories in this section, is that the answer is to listen to yourself more, not less.

It’s not Serotonin

Sometimes depression is appropriate. 

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

There is growing evidence that the Serotonin imbalance theory of depression is inaccurate.

Don’t get me wrong, the SSRI’s/SNRI’s save lives! But likely they are mostly pain killers. But when you are in acute pain, take the pain killers! Reducing the pain not only saves lives, it can be a really important step in an overall recovery plan. 

But there is a danger in the drugs, they do not fix the problem, and so the problem still needs to be fixed. For a deep dive on this one Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections is great.  

“Depression is your avatar telling you it’s tired of being the character you’re trying to play” – Jim Carrey

…A Super Power?

There is this dude on Instagram who makes these YouTube videos about his own dealings with anxiety, Arsalan Monawar. He calls his anxiety his super power. …I know, kinda nauseating. But, there is a bit of truth to it. When you treat your anxiety as a messenger instead of an invader you gain a tremendous amount of insight into your life.

Nurse Maxine

On my 5th day in the St Mary’s Women’s Psych ward I was doing much better and trying to talk my way out of that hell hole. I asked Nurse Maxine for another dose of the anxiety meds but she advised against it and said that if I made it through the day without the meds they would probably let me leave tomorrow. So instead of the meds she sat down and gave me a strategy that had worked for her when she was dealing with anxiety.

She told me about a period in her life when she was dealing with a lot of anxiety that was beginning to hinder her. What she started to do was every time she noticed a wave of anxiety she would rewind the last 20-30 seconds. She would find that the wave of anxiety was from something that someone had just said to her, or something someone had done, or something she realized she needed to do, etc. Once she realized what the source was she could deal with that rather than try to fight the anxiety. 

This strategy also works with waves of depression.

The Security Officer

You need your anxiety. If you didn’t have fear, anxiety, etc. you would walk right out into traffic and get hit by a car. Your anxiety is your security officer. I once heard a great analogy for this with you being the captain of a ship and your anxiety being your security officer. But of course, because I’m a Trekkie, this analogy became me being Captain Picard on the bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, and Lieutenant Commander Worf as my anxiety. 
And you see what has happened is that I’ve not been a very good Captain, I’ve been ignoring my officers. And Worf is very, very frustrated. I never listen to him, so when any little thing happens he just goes nuts yelling and screaming trying to get my attention. I could try to throw him in the brig, but it turns out that I actually need him looking out for Romulan Warbirds. So what I need to do instead is make sure that Worf is heard. If I make a habit of hearing him he won’t need to yell so loud.

This is very hard to do at first, cuz geez that dude is intense sometimes. But if I turn and look at him and say “hey, what’s up? What is it?” He can tell me, and I can decide that we need to do something, or I can just say “thanks for letting me know, I’ll keep that in mind.” And after a while he will start to understand that he doesn’t need to yell anymore.

Don’t Dig Deep, Don’t Power Through

Now obviously there are moments when you absolutely need to dig deep and power through. For example, if you’re in labor the only way out of that is through. Lo siento. Dig deep, power through!

However, many, many more times in life, it might be those constant attempts to dig deep and power through that are causing your problems. Are you ignoring yourself? Do you actually want what you are pursuing here? Do you need a break?

If you have a specific problem that you are trying to resolve, such as anxiety, you should be working on it, but also it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to relax, avoid the triggers, and come back to it in a few weeks. Not only is this okay, it’s often a great strategy for a long term process.

I often see people phrase these things as an internal battle, “I need to overcome my emotions”, etc. Don’t! Don’t ever fight yourself. You don’t need to overcome your emotions. You need to hear them, process them, befriend them, get them on your side.

The winning strategy isn’t battle, it’s integration.


One day I asked a friend of mine, a Psychiatrist, “To what extent would you say that depression/anxiety is a matter of perspective?” His response was “Probably 80%.”

I think this is likely accurate, certainly perspective is a big component. But when I tell this to people who have dealt with or are currently dealing with anxiety/depression I get frustration in return. This can come across as “just snap out of it!” And for anyone who has actually been at the bottom of the depression pit or caught in the storm of a panic attack, “just snap out of it” is both laughable and rage inducing. It doesn’t work that way.

What happens here is that our perspective is something that gets built into our subconscious, hardwired in our nervous system, embedded in our neural pathways. It is a part of the operating system that we’re running and changing that doesn’t happen in a snap. …but it can happen!!!

“From a simple biological perspective, it may appear that the survival of the physical organism ought to be nature’s ultimate goal. It would seem, however, that the existence of an autonomous, self regulating psyche is nature’s higher purpose. Mind and spirit can survive grievous physical injury, but time and again we see that the physical body begins to succumb when psychic integrity and freedom are jeopardized.” – Gabor Maté

Thought Patterns

This may be the most important part of this whole doc. At least this was the most impactful puzzle piece for me. Depression/anxiety often is the result of old, unconscious, unhelpful thought patterns. 

An interesting bit of evidence here is that depression is passed down through generations, but not just via genetics. You can inherit your caregivers’ thought patterns!

In this clip Dr Michael Yapko who wrote a book titled Depression is Contagious discusses this.  

If you suspect that you might have some old, currently unhelpful, ideas floating around in your subconscious, there is a lot you can do to fix that. However it does take time. 

Thoughts form actual physical structures in your brain. Tree-like structures. Dr Leaf describes these structures, and how to change them, in depth in her book Cleaning up your Mental Mess. Her book and the accompanying app take you through a 63 day process of journaling. This reveals old thought patterns, and then walks you through how to change them.

Personally, I disco”From a simple biological perspective, it may appear that the survival of the physical organism ought to be nature’s ultimate goal. It would seem, however, that the existence of an autonomous, self regulating psyche is nature’s higher purpose. Mind and spirit can survive grievous physical injury, but time and again we see that the physical body begins to succumb when psychic integrity and freedom are jeopardized.”vered that I had a tremendous amount of religious guilt floating around the back of my head. While I don’t consciously even believe in hell, I had old thoughts like “if I fail at this I’m doomed for eternity” buried deep in my subconscious. …and well that won’t help you reduce anxiety! 

Cleaning up Your Mental Mess and the Neurocycle app are without a doubt the closest things I’ve found to a cure for depression. For me it was huge and I can’t recommend it enough.

Worry Well…Once

Sometimes our brains just get stuck in a bad perspective. The downward spiral. In these cases, my aunt taught me a very important strategy, “worry well, once.” This has been very helpful for me when I get caught in an anxious loop, or a downward spiral.

The downward spiral:

An event that your mind and body perceive to be threatening occurs. Your mind races with worst-case scenarios, iterating and iterating, attempting to find and locate and plan for all possible versions of this threat!

Your body tenses, you are flooded with cortisol, etc, etc. You are braced and ready for attack!

If you, like me, have a body that never learned to feel safe, it will get stuck in a very familiar state of hyper-vigilance.

Your body’s state of alarm will trigger your brain that danger is near and it will continue to spot every possible sign of it in your surroundings!

Your mind will spot more and more potential danger, and your body will become more and more ready for battle.

The upward spiral:

When you catch your mind fixating on a perceived threat… well it might very well be a real threat!… or it might not. So first you need to sit down and worry well… once. Have a solid look at the issue and decide how real and immediate the threat is, and then make an appropriate plan for dealing with it. …write it down! Screenshot it for reference.

Then whenever your brain fixates on it, and keeps bringing it up, again, and again, you just gently remind it, every time, “we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”

“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
“we’ve already dealt with this, we have a plan.”
…all damn day.

Sidebar: That’s only half the problem. The other half is that your body is now ready for a fight. And for a body that didn’t learn peace, it’s very difficult to convince it to relax. Meditation, twice a day at least. Slow and deep breaths. Yoga, massage, long hugs from loved ones, snuggles with your pets, etc. For more on how anxiety can be held in your body see The Body Keeps the Score By Dr Bessel A. van der Kolk or Anxiety Rx By Russell Kennedy MD.

If you stick to it, probably in about a week you can turn the downward spiral into an upward spiral.

Self Concept is Destiny

Who are you? Who are you if you don’t define yourself with anything circumstantial? Who are you if you don’t define yourself with anything outside your control? What is left? Who are you?

Have you ever examined your self concept? This is so important as it is your destiny. And if you haven’t thoroughly examined your own self concept it’s probably not yours but instead one handed to you by someone else.

The first Chapter of Happy Mind, Happy Life By Dr. Rangan Chatterjee walks through how to choose for yourself a core identity. He recommends listing your values and identifying with those. For example he sees himself as simply a curious human. I have chosen the identity of learner, lover, and explorer.

A strong self concept is one that is not dependent on anything external or anything circumstantial.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from one of the best books I’ve ever read, Honoring The Self by Nathaniel Branden:

“Genuine self-esteem is not competitive or comparative. Neither is genuine self-esteem expressed by self-glorification at the expense of others, or by the quest to make oneself superior to all others or to diminish others so as to elevate oneself”

But before I let this one go, I’ll make another Sci-Fi reverence. The Babylon 5 episode Comes the Inquisitor tackles this one.

The Existential Crisis

Ahh the existential crisis, sometimes called the dark night of the soul. Whatever you want to call it, we sometimes find ourselves questioning the purpose of this existence.

At times our foundation for judging and valuing the world and our own behavior is knocked out from under us. We are floating about, not knowing how to value things. As a result, we can’t seem to value anything, or enjoy anything.

The only solution I’ve found to this one is to give yourself a value system. Clearly, consciously… write it down. And some would argue that the purpose of this life is exactly this, deciding on your values.

But before you do that, it’s very, very, very important to note that you are never going to have it all figured out. Lo siento. Trust me no one is more annoyed by that than me.

Existential crises are ridiculous. Just think about it, we can barely even get ourselves off this rock floating around in the middle of nowhere, we can’t cure cancer, we can’t even stop murdering each-other… and we have the insane idea that we are supposed to understand the universe? Nonsense!

And it really does help your calm a lot to just give up on the idea that you’re supposed to have the entire universe figured out. What epic pressure that is!

It reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite Sci-Fi’s. A character is about to leave his physical existence, he’s dying. This sort of majestic creature has shown up to usher him over to the other side. He turns to the creature and says “there is still so much that I don’t understand”, and the response is simply, “as it should be.” (Babylon 5, Sleeping in Light)

Another one that plays in my head constantly is a clip from an interview between a famous Psychic Medium, Tyler Henry, and Larry King. (A belief in psychic mediums is not necessary to appreciate the following perspective!) In this clip Larry is asking Tyler the questions that we all ponder. What happens when we die? And if you can talk to the dead don’t you ask them these questions?!?! Why haven’t they told you?!?! Tyler responds that of course he’s asked and he gives an example of the explanation that he gets from the departed. 

“It’s the equivalent to human laughter. They come through and they think we are silly to try to understand something beyond our capability of reasoning and understanding. In fact they liken it to if we were to take a cockroach right here (on the table between them) …and I had to explain arithmetic to that cockroach. That cockroach would not have the means of understanding arithmetic. We as human beings, with our brains, and our limited perception and understanding of things, I think we are not able to understand the magnitude of the universe. I think anyone who sits across from someone else and says I have an answer, I have an answer to the universe, I have an answer to what happens… I don’t think there is an answer for humans… we are so limited in our perceptions.”

Here is another take from the accomplished scientist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane and one of my personal favorite quotes…

“The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”

You are only human y’all, let it go.

Religious Guilt

For the first 38 years of my life, without realizing it, I had an intense amount of religious guilt rolling around in the back of my head. I carried around the constant fear of eternal damnation and that took a heavy toll on my well being and was the fuel behind some depressive episodes.

When I say insights happen upon me, I mean, sometimes I “hear things”. Don’t worry! I don’t hear things in the schizophrenic sense, I “hear things” in the sense that a new thought will just appear in my head and surprise me. Maybe it’s a message from the beyond, maybe it’s my subconscious, maybe it’s my “higher self”, who knows, but it happens and it’s wildly helpful.

So, one day I was just walking through my kitchen while in the midst of a depressive episode and what I call a “shame spiral”. My head was caught in a loop of trying to figure out what I needed to do to not suffer the eternal damnation, and then, the thought appeared… “This experience is for you.”

What a wildly different perspective than the one I was busy drowning in. This is experience is for me?!?! This life isn’t a test, it’s not a burden… it’s FOR me?!?! Interesting.

A few weeks later I’m laying in bed this time caught in the slightly less excruciating “should loop”. What should I be doing? Am I doing it right? Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? On and on, and so I just asked the universe… “am I doing it right?” And the answer was “Well… what do you want?”

Again, a wildly different perspective than the one I was caught in. The question “am I doing it right?” can’t be answered if I haven’t defined what it is that I’m trying to do! …and I had not defined that.

We get so much more say in defining our lives and our own morality than the shame based religious ideologies would have us believe.

Anyone who tells you that they understand the meaning of life the universe and everything is almost certainly delusional or full of it! But… no doubt a big part of what we are doing here is defining for yourselves who we are and what standards we should be judging ourselves by. I don’t think a deity judges us, I think we suffer our own judgment.

Let Go of Everything Besides Your Values

There is actually very little that you control. The world is big and unknowably complex. You control you…mostly, in the long run, and you certainly don’t control anything else. As such you can only judge yourself by what you do and not the outcomes of any situation. And what you do is guided by your values. So just focus on the values, and let the rest go.

But that isn’t so easy, is it?!?!

Were you ever in the midst of an anxiety attack and someone told you to “just let go”? Just as frustrating as telling a depressed person to “just cheer up!” 

I had an especially hard time with this “letting go.” I realized that to me it felt like wild irresponsibility. Utter dereliction of duty!!! …where did I get that from?

I’ve dealt with a lot of guilt over the years. I picked some of that up from the religious groups my parents were in when I was quite young. This played on my subconscious mind in a wide variety of ways, but I realized that I took on responsibility for outcomes and used outcomes to judge myself. 

Example: I realized that I was interpreting tragedy as proof of someone’s failing. And one day it hit me that I was so vigilant, and anxious, in avoiding tragedy mostly because I was trying to prove my own worthiness.

Here’s one of the most sobering thoughts I’ve ever had… I was checking on my kids for the 3rd time before I went to bed and as I walked out of their room it hit me… what am I doing here? Am I trying to save them, or am I trying to save my own shame?

If you are doing this too, it’s rather common, if you are taking on responsibility for not just your behavior, but for outcomes, below are some perspectives that helped me to “let go.

Letting go of interpersonal drama:

Here is a strategy that helps me a lot when dealing with difficult interpersonal issues…

You can’t control people, not now, not ever. You have no direct control over their actions and the outcome of the situation. So instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on how you’re handling it. Focus on who you are in this situation. Aim to handle things such that when you look back on it years later, you’ll be proud of what you said and did regardless of what the outcome was.

Were you kind? Were you honest? Were you loving? Did you show up for them? Did you walk away when it became clear that they cannot show up for you?

And when you’re sitting there sad and frustrated, left on read, remember that they get to reveal themselves to you. You can’t control their actions. They reveal themselves to you in their actions. And you reveal yourself and your values in your actions.

And this goes back to Self Concept is Destiny, your sense of personal identity comes from your values.

And here is a great one to end with…

I am responsible for having good values, and for making choices in alignment with my values. That is all that I control, all that I can possibly control, it would be lunacy to attempt to hold myself accountable for anything else.

This allows me to let go of what might, could, should, potentially happen and just focus on making good decisions about whatever does happen.



  • Happy Mind, Happy Life By Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
  • Lost Connections By Johann Hari
  • Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess By: Dr. Caroline Leaf
  • Anxiety Rx By Russell Kennedy MD
  • The Body Keeps the Score By Bessel A. van der Kolk
  • The Myth of Normal By Gabor Maté MD, Daniel Maté
  • When the Body Says No By Gabor Maté MD, Daniel Maté
  • The Inflamed Mind By Dr Edward Bullmore
  • Trauma and Recovery By Judith Lewis Herman MD
  • Honoring The Self by Nathaniel Branden 
  • The end of Mental Illness by Dr Daniel Amen




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