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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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rigirl10101010 Offline
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Question My Friend - July 7th 2017, 11:41 PM

My friend Alex has Anxiety, Depression, eating disorders, basically a lot of my friends do, but my friend Alex always sees the worst into herself, and I constantly tell her what an amazing friend she is, and she ALWAYS puts herself down. I hate it when she does that because she's such an amazeballs friend! How do I help her?
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Celyn Offline
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Re: My Friend - July 8th 2017, 07:57 PM

It's great that you want to help your friend (and already do!) but I understand that it can seem difficult when she always puts herself down, even after you have told her how amazing she is!

Unfortunately, when it comes to self-esteem it really does have to come from within (though people telling you how great you are does help a bit too). Perhaps you can suggest to Alex, that for every bad thought she has about herself, she tries to balance it with a neutral or more positive thought. She can also keep a thought diary with a split down the middle to record the negative thoughts and then a thought that challenges it e.g. 'I failed the test, I'm rubbish at everything' becomes 'I didn't do very well in the test, but I am good at other things'.

Since Alex has anxiety, depression and eating disorders, I'm wondering if she is getting any help from a counsellor? If not, it might be worthwhile suggesting that to her as well.

Remember, as lovely and caring it is of you to help Alex, she needs to help herself too. And remember that with all the helping you do, to take care of yourself as well

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Re: My Friend - July 9th 2017, 05:44 AM

it sounds like you a very good friend and you can't do much more than you are is sad reality or you can do is support her and hopefully if she hasn't yet she will get the support she needs
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Re: My Friend - July 9th 2017, 06:47 AM

Hmm well the trying to convince her she's wrong isn't working, so I'd suggest switching to the other tactic, which is active listening.

The basic idea is she wants someone to listen to her, and acknowledge that you understand she is feeling this way (you don't have to agree with her, just validate her feelings).

Then you can repeat back to confirm that you understand her correctly, something like, "I understand you feel badly about yourself. I'm sorry that you feel that way." And the point here is to make that emotional connection, we're trying to reach her emotional mid-brain, not the rational thinking forebrain, so we're not going to logically or rationally point out how her thinking is all wrong, we're just going to emotionally connect with her in a commiserating way, where we're trying to reach that emotional part of her, and acknowledge that it's feeling bad, hurt, and it could use a hug, or someone who just listens and acknowledges that the emotional part is feeling bad, hurt, pain, and wants to be recognized as feeling that way, and it's seeking an emotional response of,... whatever would be an appropriate emotional reply of "I hear you, I see you, I understand you, I validate that you are feeling this way."

There's something magical about being heard. Once someone feels they've been heard, the pain seems to diminish, troubles seem to subside a little, the world seems a bit less dark, even though the world hasn't changed, a person's perception of the world can change to something slightly more positive, simply because someone else took an interest in listening to them. You don't have to "fix" them, the listening itself is the fix. (And that's something I can't explain, other than one time I experienced it myself, when someone sat and listened to me whine bitch and complain about my life for an hour, and afterwards I felt better, which astonished me, because nothing really changed; and then I understood, it was the listening itself that was the cure.)

Let her say whatever words she wants to say. Her midbrain will focus on your emotional response. If after she puts herself down you're still there as a friend for her, her midbrain will register that, and her midbrain will ignore everything she said and declare it untrue, simply because you still accept her and are still there for her.
You don't really have to say anything in reply. It's not a logic competition; it's an emotional rally. You're still emotionally accepting of her. You become a safe person she can be around and tell you her deepest feelings because she's learned you are safe. Words are words, but emotions tell the true story. Focus on emoting positive caring feelings her way and her unconscious midbrain will pick up on that.

(It's kind of the martial arts of emotive loving. P.S. I just made that up! I actually have no idea what I'm talking about!)
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