Posted on 22 April 2017 by Michael Dahl

My therapist tells me to live my life according to my values, and know that’s the best I can do.

A few days ago I had a therapy session that’s been long overdue. During the visit I had lumps in my throat several times as I almost burst out crying. The details are not ones I feel comfortable sharing. Just know that if you are reading this, you are not amongst the subjects I was grappling with.

My therapist and I talked about four topics.

First, my brain has spent a goodly part of my life marinating in stress and chaos. Meds will do and have done a lot to reduce the bad chemicals from being released in my brain during such situations. But, like it or not, from early and long-term exposure, my brain has gotten used to stress and chaos, and when given the opportunity will release panic-inducing chemicals. I must continue my meds and practicing cognitive therapy exercises to get ahead of Anxiety from taking over my brain.

Second, facts are facts. Just as I am pretty much who I am for the rest of my life — in good ways and bad — so are others. If I want to change myself, I can work to make tweaks here and there. But I can’t expect others to change for me. No more, “if only so-and-so would do such-and-such, everything would be okay.” I can only change my expectations, attitudes, and actions and let others be who they are going to be.

Third, that said, I do have the power to live according to my values. These are deeply engrained in me — and I am pretty proud of them. I should not be forcing a futile standard of if I live my values, others will live their lives according to what’s important to me.

Fourth, and unrelated, are there any anniversaries recently past or soon approaching that are creating some Anxiety for me? Now, while I don’t usually pay attention to many anniversaries, there is one that I do and is soon-approaching. It’s the day two years ago I ran out of my office, because I didn’t want to subject others to Michael experiencing a panic attack. It’s also the day I decided to seek out another therapist and med doctor (my previous one had retired several months back).

My therapist imparted three lessons and one reality. She let me figure out if future sessions should be scheduled to continue helping me with my current situation.

First, I should keep on practicing cognitive therapy approaches to facing the Anxiety-inducing situations I find myself in. I’m also likely — because of my wife’s prodding — going to ponder different forms of meditation that could be useful.

Second, as my brain is used to stress and chaos, it’s probably best to find a constructive outlet for this … in essence, turn my weakness into a strength. I’m not explain this weird concept, because I don’t want to share too much right now. It’s too sensitive of a topic.

Third, about those values — compassion, creativity, gratitude, humility, humor, integrity, justice, stewardship, reverence, trustworthiness, and transparency — live them. Feel pride in practicing these values. Expect nothing from the world in return. Simply know that living according to my values contributes to my well-being and my health. (It will actually reduce Anxiety.)

Lastly, March 26th may be a difficult day for me many years. Take care of myself in all the ways I can on that date.