Our brains need to make sense of things. It searches for information to provide ends to the stories, whether we have the ending or not. If we don’t have it, it makes it up. Our brains try to figure out “Why” all the time so that it can protect us from threats. The problem is that our brains react to this even when the threat is perceived not real. It’s not like there is going to be a lion showing up on our doorstep (I don’t think anyway). But what could likely happen is that you see someone, you have a memory, you are in the same place where something happened. Your brain doesn’t know that you are not in that same place at the same time where something (your physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual health) was threatened or put in danger.
So it seeks information. It seeks information to prove the beliefs we already have true. If you have this happen, congratulations! Your brain is doing its job; however, it can be absolutely maddening and frustrating when your brain is hyperreactive to some of these perceived threats. It can be a dirty look, a smell, a memory, or a feeling that you will be abandoned. It doesn’t have to be make logical sense; in fact, this is when it’s the most frustrating--at least, for me it is.
Struggling when things are good
Some of my clients come in with intense frustration with no one but themselves. This is because the “things” in their life are going well. They may have the house, the car, the job, the friends, the wife or husband, the kids, the promotion, the (insert perceived measure of happiness here). They’ve reached the milestone where in their brains may have thought that things would be “less hard”.
When we have the things we’ve always wanted, we can beat ourselves up more for struggling with depression or anxiety.
It makes sense when life hands us lemons to have reactions of sadness, hurt, anger, or nervousness. Intellectually, we can say “Wow, this is really hard. No wonder I’m struggling.” But when there is nothing to blame the depression or anxiety on, what do we do?
Sometimes there’s no explanation
Not knowing why you’re feeling certain things can be maddening. Again, at least it is for me. I want to know exactly the cause, pinpoint it, and then do X, Y, and Z to “fix it”. My husband and I’s couples counselor recently told us that even when things are good, in fact...even when they are great, healing may need to happen. She described this type of healing as one that you couldn’t have predicted or planned for or done the work for prior to all these good things and went further to say that it’s peeling back more and more layers of the onion, providing deeper layers of healing.
Sometimes you may not have an explanation, especially when all seems right, and that can feel helpless.
When we identify with this feeling, these points may be useful:
Remember, we don’t have to do any of this alone. As the season of winter comes full force, know that we are ever-changing beings that have the capacity to change at any moment, if only we are willing. And if everything in your life is going well, but you’re still struggling, it’s going to be ok. It’s only temporary, and you will move through it.
Robin Kluttz, LSCSW, LCSW, CPT