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Are you feeling anxious or just plain angry?

Are you feeling anxious or just plain angry
Can you tell if you are feeling anxious or angry?

It is not always anxiety the reason you do not feel well. Despite being on everyone’s tongues, anxiety is not the only feeling that impacts you negatively. If you have a difficult relationship with anger, you might have a habit of not acknowledging its existence in your body. Because anxiety is a fear-based feeling and fear is a high arousal emotion – like anger – it is prone to being mistakenly identified. In other words, if you do not tolerate your anger, you might call it “anxiety”. Those who do that, do not do it consciously, however. To help you understand what you are feeling and establish a healthy connection with your anger, keep reading to explore if are you feeling anxious or just plain angry.

Similarities between anger and anxiety

Anxiety, a fear-based feeling, and anger are both triggered by a perceived threat. You feel anxious/afraid or angry when you find yourself to be in some kind of danger. When that happens, your body gets ready to fight that dangerous thing, person or animal, freeze on the spot to deceive them or escape them. For that reason, anger and anxiety/fear have very similar physiologies. When your body is getting ready to fight, freeze or run away, your muscles tense up, your breathing becomes shallower, your heart beats faster and digestion is supressed. All your resources are mobilised for survival. Therefore, from a physical perspective, anxiety/fear and anger are similarly felt in the body.

Differences between anxiety and anger

While anxiety/fear and anger may be felt in similar ways, their triggers may not be the same. Anxiety/fear and anger are also experienced in different circumstances. Anxiety is a negative feeling over something that is yet to happen. Most people feel anxious before giving a presentation, for instance. They worry about their performance. That is anxiety. You have no means of knowing what will actually happen, but your anxiety puts you in a vulnerable position when it makes you focus on limitations and negative outcomes.

Anger, on the other hand, can be very empowering. You feel angry when you have a sense that you or your boundaries have not been respected. It is triggered to help you regain self-esteem and protect yourself and others. For that reason, anger is an emotional reaction to a threat. It is not there to anticipate it, although it does help prevent it – in the long run – because of its connection to self-assertive behaviours. Anger sends out a positive message of self-confidence and healthy power, when expressed in a functional, non-abusive manner.

To connect with your anger in an adaptive, functional way, resist the urge to repress it, soothe it or rationalise it. Feel it in your body – mindfully – and without judgement. Listen to its message and validate its importance in safeguarding your wellbeing, as well as of those who depend on you.

5 signs you do not respect other people’s boundaries

Boundary work is essential for those invested in personal growth and development. When one thinks of boundaries, they associate it with saying no to others. The focus seems to be on how our boundaries are not respected by others and what to do when that happens. But if there are a lot of us thinking the same way, who is not respecting others’ boundaries? Could that be us as well? If you believe to have weak boundaries, you most likely struggle to respect other people’s. To help you understand how you might be doing that, here are 5 signs you do not respect other people’s boundaries:

5 signs you do not respect other people’s boundaries
Do you struggle to respect other people’s boundaries?

1- You are sure of other people’s problems: you do not recognise others as experts in their own lives and believe to be the one who knows the true root of their suffering. Therefore, you spend great energy psychoanalysing them while overlooking your own vulnerabilities and limitations.

2- You do not accept when others need distance: you feel personally attacked when others do not want to spend time with you. When they express their need to take distance, you are not interested in their reasons or even take them into consideration.

3- You resent others when they do not agree with you: you feel a sense of rejection and alienation when you fail to influence others. You hold rigid values about relationships and struggle to accept individuality and be emotionally/psychologically separate from other people.

4- You do not accept others’ limitations: you have high expectations of others. When they are not met, you feel restless, disappointed and/or resentful. You struggle to accept people and things just as they are and not how you want them to be.

5- You do not see others as whole: your views of others are based on projection, or on how they make you feel. You see others only in their suffering and limitations to feel empowered and have a sense of self-esteem. You struggle to separate your own feelings of insecurity and inadequacy from your perception of others.

Relationships are challenging and few of us know how to properly navigate them. Healthy boundaries are at the core of what makes relationships functional. Boundary work is a two-way street, however.  You can become mindful of your limits, learn how to express them and gain a greater sense of wellbeing in relational contexts, but that does not exclude the role you play in honouring and respecting other people’s boundaries as well.

What is a codependent relationship?

What is a codependent relationship
Codependent relationships lack strong boundaries

A codependent relationship is dysfunctional because it does not favour personal growth and development. When in one, you are bound to feel a sense of discontent, as your needs are not being met. Codependent relationships are not made of heroes and villains. Those who put others’ needs before their own have obscure motivations that go beyond limitless kindness. The considered bad guys, or those who receive devoted attention and often unsolicited help, have vulnerabilities that go beyond selfishness and self-centredness. The codependent relationship dynamic is complex, far from static and cannot be fully understood through such simplistic terms.

The main vulnerability of those involved in codependent relationships is weak boundaries. Even though that is easily identifiable in the case of the giver, since their dedication to the other seems to have no bounds, it is also present in the receiver. Those who depend on givers’ dedication and effort to feel a sense of worth and connection do so because of their inability to nurture that autonomously. When you are greatly reliant on external sources for your wellbeing, the boundaries between yourself, others, and the world around you are porous, which often leads to all kinds of dependences, including emotional and relational.

Weak boundaries are deeply intertwined to high expectations, bad communication and a lot of mind reading. Since there is no clear separation of individual needs, both giver and receiver often feel dissatisfied in the relationship. The giver often feels that their dedication and effort are not matched by the receiver, while the latter may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility to match them or feel stuck with their reliance on them. Because of their fear of rejection and abandonment and poor self-regulation, both giver and receiver lack the tools to express themselves emotionally, resolve conflict and feel heard, seen and felt.

If you find yourself in a codependent relationship and would like to change that dynamic, start by working on becoming more emotionally mature. The focus of emotionally mature individuals is on learning how to tolerate discomfort felt in their own bodies, rather than psychoanalysing and fixing the other. You can achieve that through emotional autonomy, by allowing yourself to feel and process your negative feelings, such as anger and insecurity, while resisting the urge to soothe yourself through validation from external sources, be it through reassuring your worth through your dedication to others or depending on givers to feel loved and safe in relationships.

The myth of good communication in emotionally neglectful relationships

The myth of good communication in emotionally neglectful relationships
Good communication is not the only factor in healthy relationships

Loving relationships have great influence on our wellbeing. They affect us even when we are not mindful of their impact. Adult children of emotionally neglectful parents are especially likely not to notice when their emotions, needs and wants are not being met by significant others. As a result of that lack of awareness, they might approach their relationship problems without truly knowing what they are. Because “good communication” has been widely promoted as the factor in well-functioning relationships, it is what most people think of when assessing their own.

While good communication is often present as a variable in healthy relationships, it is not, solely, what makes them work. There are other factors that contribute to their success, such as love, sexual attraction, intimacy (which is not only physical but also emotional), respect for each other’s autonomy, amongst others. In functional relationships, there is a conscious effort and willingness to see, feel and listen to the other. Emotional awareness is not only present at an individual level, but it also guides an individual’s understanding of their partner’s needs.

I hear you, but I still won’t validate your needs

Conscious efforts to improve a relationship via better communication tend not to be productive in emotionally neglectful relationships when the neglect piece is not identified and addressed. One can learn how to express themselves perfectly, how to use feeling words and link them to behaviours and thoughts to help raise the other’s awareness (“When you _____(behaviour), I feel _____ (feeling) and think _____ (thought)”) and still not feel seen, heard or felt. If there is no real intention or effort to connect emotionally and validate the other’s needs – in practice – good communication, by itself, fails to deliver its promised benefits.

If you are going through a tough time in your relationship, consider emotional neglect as a probable factor. Reflect over the type of connection you have with yourself, and how much importance you give to your own feelings, wants and needs. Do the same to your partner’s feelings, wants and needs. Learn how to express yourself, if you feel you do not know how to do so and take time to understand your partner. Above all, notice what happens when communication goes well – if positive changes happen as a result. If the same problems keep arising, over and over, and your needs (or your partner’s) remain unmet, it is time to address emotional neglect with greater care and attention.

5 signs your weight problem is trauma related

5 signs your weight problem is trauma related
Victims of abuse are more likely to turn to food to regulate their emotions.

The connection between maladaptive eating behaviours such as calorie restriction, food addictions, binge eating and grazing, and trauma is widely accepted as significant (see research below). If you struggle to keep a healthy weight, it is worth considering that a change of diet alone might not be enough to produce lasting effects. To gain greater awareness of how your mental health affects your relationship with food, here are 5 signs your weight problem is trauma related:

1- You eat emotionally to soothe yourself. Emotional eating is motivated by negative feelings such as loneliness, tiredness, anxiety, sadness, shame, guilt and anger that are stored in the body from traumatic events. Victims of emotional abuse, physical neglect and/or sexual abuse are more likely to turn to food to regulate their emotions and deal with traumatic stress (Kong et al, 2009). Or as Stojek MM et al (2019) point out, “From a psychological perspective, consuming high-calorie foods that stimulate the reward neurocircuitry may be a powerful emotion regulation strategy in response to increased stress”.

2- You overeat to defy authority. You express anger at your abusive caregivers and control over you own body by overeating or eating whatever you want not to conform with their rigid diet and beauty standards.

3- You undereat to defy authority. You express your anger at your abusive caregivers and control over you own body by dieting and becoming smaller/thinner and making them jealous or resentful of your autonomy and weight loss.

4- Your weight makes you feel safe. You feel stronger when physically bigger or “invisible”, in a way that makes you feel protected from attracting attention to yourself and less vulnerable to abuse.

5- You are addicted to sugar. Unresolved childhood trauma and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) “commonly co-occur with addiction” (Flanagan et al, 2016). Sugar is used to soothe traumatic stress, and it serves the same purpose of other addictive substances such as alcohol and drugs.

A trauma aware approach is essential if you are committed to overcoming an eating disorder or managing your weight effectively. For a successful outcome, combine a healthy diet with psychological treatment of unresolved trauma and address your health wholistically, from head to toe.



Kong, Seong & Bernstein, Kunsook. (2009). Childhood trauma as a predictor of eating psychopathology and its mediating variables in patients with eating disorders. Journal of clinical nursing. 18. 1897-907. 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02740.x.

Flanagan JC, Korte KJ, Killeen TK, Back SE. Concurrent Treatment of Substance Use and PTSD. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Aug;18(8):70. doi: 10.1007/s11920-016-0709-y. PMID: 27278509; PMCID: PMC4928573.

Stojek MM, Maples-Keller JL, Dixon HD, Umpierrez GE, Gillespie CF, Michopoulos V. Associations of childhood trauma with food addiction and insulin resistance in African-American women with diabetes mellitus. Appetite. 2019 Oct 1;141:104317. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104317. Epub 2019 Jun 8. PMID: 31185252; PMCID: PMC6629477.

Where does the belief “I am not good enough” come from?

Where does the belief “I am not good enough” come from?
When the negative belief “I am not good enough” is active, we feel insecure and doubt ourselves

When the negative belief “I am not good enough” is active, we feel insecure and doubt ourselves. We question our intelligence and competence. What is more, we become hypervigilant and dependent on external approval to feel less anxious. If you would like to gain more control over that process, I recommend making the link between that core belief and your unresolved childhood trauma. Adverse experiences, such as suffering bullying at school, work to gives such negative beliefs their strength. When that connection is found, you are in a more powerful position to break it and free yourself from its effects on your self-esteem.

If you do not know where to begin, here are some examples of traumatic events experienced in childhood that make you think you are not good enough as an adult:

  • Your school grades, even when very good or excellent, were never good enough for your primary caregivers. When you shared your marks with them, you were asked who else got them or if you were the first or second best in your class.
  • Your primary caregivers were not emotionally present when you shared your school grades with them. Your efforts were neither validated nor dismissed by them, they were just not interested enough to care.
  • Your school and/or teachers were ignorant or not equipped with the right tools to deal with your psychological vulnerability, such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Asperger’s. You felt bad for being different, lonely and even alienated by that lack of support.
  • You were too hungry, tired, angry or scared/anxious to be able to focus at school. You struggled to concentrate and/or lacked the structure to be able to learn as your classmates.

How did your brain build this notion that you are not good enough? What are the negative events that work as “proof” of your supposed incompetence? Go somewhere private and focus your attention on your breathing for 1 minute. After that, feel yourself connecting with your body, from head to toe. Set an intention to be guided by it, to find a connection between “I am not good enough” with an adverse event from your childhood. Finally, notice where it takes you. Once your brain has given you an image, allow yourself to be present with it. Notice the effects it has on your psyche, body and emotions. Repeat that practice on different days until you the image has no negative effect on you.