The 4 P’s of Anxiety & Depression
This concept comes from Dr. Brené Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead.” In it, she speaks to ways of being that interfere with our ability to be good leaders, parents, and people, by worrying about the need to prove our worth and/or convincing others that we are indeed worthy. Unfortunately, many of us were taught to do this by pleasing others, performing up to their expectations, pretending that we never make mistakes, and trying to be perfect.
Of course, it’s important to note that we were not born this way. In other words, we were not laying in our bassinet feeling unworthy because we just crapped in our diaper. However, as we grew, many of us got the message that we were “good,” lovable, worthy, etc. when we pleased, or performed in a certain way, and we took that to mean that if we could do all this perfectly, we would finally get the validation we so desperately wanted.
It never really worked, of course, but that just had us trying harder and ending up thinking that there was something wrong with us… or that we just weren’t “enough” and this self-perception continued into adulthood.
Those of you who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy know that this has to do with neural pathways in the brain that were formed in childhood and are now influencing how we deal with life today. Specifically, our limbic system, or middle brain, is still interpreting life in a way that has us attempting to please, perform, and try to be perfect in order to prove our worth. This is driven by the fear-based belief that our validation, or sense of worth, is determined by how we are perceived by others and is one of the causes of our anxiety, worry, and depression.
So, what is the solution? Some think it is affirmations, or repeatedly telling ourselves, “I am enough, I am enough.” However, most people find that when we do this, there is a little voice in the back of our mind saying “bullshit, bullshit.” Therefore, I suggest a more purposeful approach that addresses the fear that we are not enough with data about our being more than enough.
The way to do this is to create a list of twenty qualities or characteristics of us at our best that give us a “place to stand,” so to speak, or a way to establish our worth that doesn’t go through the eyes of others. Once we are clear about who we are at our best, we can go into life (conversations, meetings, family get-togethers, relationships, etc.) clear that this person, organization, etc. is pretty lucky to have us around. Then, if we are not treated as such, we now know this is about their lack of awareness and not our lack of worth.
All of this clarity about what truly determines our worth and value comes from the upper 80% of the brain, what I call the “Top of the Mind,” just as our fear that we are only valuable if we please and perform perfectly comes from the lower, fear-based part of the brain. Therefore, it will be important to be able to switch to this more purposeful part of the brain when our old brainstem neural pathways are triggered. This is what my system teaches…how to shift to the Top of the Mind when triggered, and how to rewire the brain so that we go into situations with clarity about our worth and value in the future.
If you feel that this would be of value to you, your family, and/or organization, I suggest that you contact me, because as long as we need to please, perform and pretend perfectly in order to prove our worth and value, we will always be at the mercy of those old, learned perspectives, and stuck in the fear-based part of the brain.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill