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How can I stop dwelling on family relationships and rise above my anxiety, caused by my need for appreciation from my family?

heart to heart
I would love to get over my anxiety problem. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but am on my way to recovery. However, I still have problems dealing with my family. Although I managed to the best of my ability this Christmas, to only lose my temper once with my sister and later apologize, I have left feeling unappreciated by my family in general.

My problem now is that I find it hard not to dwell on feeling like this and I know that it is detrimental to my health. Do you have any tips for me? I would love to know your take on this.

Wallace's reply
Wallace We receive great personal benefits if we know how to listen to our vulnerabilities and learn what they have to teach us. In this way our vulnerable areas can be the means we use to become strong and wise.

You realize, correctly, that your thoughts have an enormous effect on the chemicals your body produces and therefore on your health. You also are vulnerable, in that you have a history of chronic fatigue.

You are learning from chronic fatigue that you have a pressing need to go beyond stress, but do not know how to do this, when your relationships with your family are so distressing. I am going to give you the tips you requested. These two tips will empower you to become master of yourself and to help you heal the negative influence chronic fatigue has in your life.

Tip 1. Do not seek the appreciation of your family (or anybody else).
How do you do this? Become self appreciating and self affirming. When you appreciate your Self and when you affirm your Self, you are your own master - no one has the power to upset you. You lost your temper with your sister because you wanted her to appreciate you and she didn't. You then took her lack of appreciation as the cause of your lack of self worth. You made the error of being dependant on her appreciation for your self esteem. You then saw your sister as the cause of your bad feelings, blamed her for your troubles and became angry.

The truth is that you are the cause of your bad feelings and loss of temper through an incorrect perception of what makes you feel good inside. Your sister does not make you feel good or bad inside - you are the person who determines your own feelings. So realize you have the power to determine your own feelings and to self-appreciate. Realizing you have this power will make you independent from being emotionally affected by the opinions of others.

So my first tip is that every time you feel anger toward another, look for this pattern of needing to be appreciated, realize that it is the cause of your anger and drop it by deciding to self-appreciate.

Tip 2. Forgive all others who appear to have hurt you.
Forgiving others who appear to have hurt you follows on from taking up the power of self-appreciation. Why do you need to forgive them? You need to forgive others because they did not cause your distress. It was your dependency on their approval for your sense of self worth that caused your distress. If you are able to see this, see it clearly and forgive others every time you feel slighted or hurt, you will be able to let go of your tendency to dwell on difficult relationships and you will gain in strength and power.

By seeing the patterns of blame, anger and distress at work in your self, by seeing their root cause and by choosing to self-appreciate each time this happens, you will have risen above the need for praise and blame and become master of yourself. This self-mastery will then hasten your recovery from anxiety and chronic fatigue. You will have learnt one of the lessons that chronic fatigue was meant to give and, as a result, it will feature less in your life.

Further Help and Resources
If you would like to read about traveling the healing path, by learning from your vulnerabilities how to tune into inner guidance, I recommend my book Unfold Your Wings and Watch Life Take Off.

If you find yourself still holding on to painful emotions, check out Peter Shepherd's site about Emotional Intelligence. This explains how our emotional responses are based on our interpretation of circumstances; that no-one "makes" us angry, etc. We ourselves create our emotions and therefore we can choose to let go of those emotional patterns that do not serve us or that restrict our flexibility and spontaneity. The site includes effective techniques for releasing emotions in this way.

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