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Fellow INFPs (and anyone else wandering around),

About 7 months ago I was in a rough spot in life. I had left the military after 6 years, along with all the people I knew -- my military "family". I moved out west while my family lives on the east cost. I moved to a place where I knew exactly 0 people. I did it for the adventure! And adventure I found.

However, in this new space, I came to learn a lot about myself, my hidden/suppressed side, and my neuroses. I have had a depressive quality since around 14, brought about my a "harsh" home life and being raised by a mother who had unacknowledged depression. For years, I felt flawed as a human, incapable of receiving love (despite knowing I had love to give), and, sometimes I had self-hating, suicidal thoughts which quickly passed and were not truly brought into my consciousness until later.

In college, I started drinking, and in alcohol I found a nice escape from the problem that I considered "myself". I'm not an alcoholic, but I was definitely an abuser. Feelings of self-hate could flow through me in my drunken state, and the next day I'd have forgotten. This continued through my military career. It never caused problems in my life, it was pretty limited to psychological issues. Though I did make a few bad decisions to drive after I'd been drinking. Not cool. Don't do it.

After I left the military, a budding relationship, which I had put a LOT of personal identity into ended, and I felt depressed beyond all reason. In fact, I didn't realize I was depressed until after I came out of it. During this time, feelings of being innately flawed as a human soared to new levels and YEARS of suppressed emotional abuse and self-abuse (negative self-talk, "you're worthless. you'd be better of dead.") came to a head and burst forth into my consciousness. This was for sure exacerbated by marijuana use (which I'd only done for a short time). I scared the shit out of myself. I started having panic attacks, something I'd never experienced before. I felt like I was in a trap and the only way out was to go insane or die. In the wake of this, I quit smoking (forever) and quit drinking for a few months to get my head on straight. [I don't have anything against your pot use. Enjoy.]

During this time, I searched all over the internet for a "cure" and repeatedly found people suggesting meditation. Not knowing what it really was, I researched and started my journey. I'll make it short and say meditating has been the single best gift I have given myself. In ~6 months, I'm in a better (and completely different) spot than I thought was possible. Looking back, it's like Dorothy in black-and-white before she got to colorful Oz.

That said, is meditation a cure-all? For sure, no. It actually can bring up some pretty shit emotions and memories and make you deal with them. But, for me, this is far more useful than subconsciously hating myself and my life. I've gotten to a place where I see thoughts as being extremely temporary phenomena. Being driven by a single, passing idea seems silly, and slightly insane. If you're looking for a way to healthily deal with some emotions, I suggest meditation. Follow the link for some benefits: 7 Health Benefits of Meditation

What are some ways that you healthily deal with emotions? And how have you overcome feelings of worthlessness or self-hatred? Or are you still stuck in that rut?
 

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For me what works, is Buddhism. I'm not here to plug or preach a religion, but that has helped me more than anything in confronting and dealing with negative emotions. Meditation, as you said, can bring up some difficult emotions, but you are taught and can learn how to see them for what they are. Impermanent at most.

I still have my bad days of course, and others on here have experienced me posting when in a rut, but I can recover much more quickly than what I use to.

Since you're already into meditation and have a grasp on that, I do want to recommend a Buddhist site that is based in the Theravada tradition. It is much more philosophy based and you can apply it's practices to your meditations. Just Google "Access to Insight".

Again, I apologize if it seems I'm pedaling a religion. That's not my intent by all means. Just when it comes to dealing with mental issues, I have found nothing better for me than some of the practices of Buddhism
 

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Hey man,

Sorry to hear you've been feeling so bad. Self help has been a life long quest for me too.

I had suicidal depression from 17 to 23 (I'm 28 now), but and it's only the past few months that I seem to be 'healing' my life long anxiety issues.

Developing the skill of gratitude was a big part of becoming happier. There's a lot of interesting research into the benefits of gratitude that you can google.

A very simple practice is to write down 5 things you are grateful for once a week for 8 weeks. Research has shown it lead to increased happiness.


Self-love/self esteem has been a life long issue for me, my favorite authors (who's exercises are genuinely helping) are Kristen Neff and Nathaniel Branden.

Talk therapy is great, but I've become increasingly interested in body centered therapy. Because working with mindfulness meditation - like body scan and breath following practices - and allowing myself to tremor when my muscles begin to relax, has alleviated anxiety attacks.

The basic hypothesis is; We feel and express emotions, and the fight, flight or freeze response, with our muscles. And emotional trauma is 'stored' via muscular tension, so if we release the muscular tension by evoking unconscious tremoring then we will released our trapped responses to whatever created the trauma.

Many body centered therapists say that this is the 'missing piece' that can make therapy more effective. Talk therapy deals with the meanings that contribute to suffering, and somatic exercises deal with unconscious muscular contraction that contributes to suffering.

If you are interested in how working with the body can help release emotional trauma and stress I recommend David Berceli and Peter Levine's videos and books. It's a shame I can't do David Berceli's exercises due to knee problems because they were gentle but powerful, so I'm hoping to do some zero balancing to release muscular tension.

Here's an introductory vid, this dude's book is awesome and very accessibly written BTW;


(Sorry if my post was an information dump, I've been watching vids on these subjects today so this stuff was fresh on my mind)
 

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A friendly caution on meditation.

Once via breath awareness meditation I relaxed so deeply that my habitual muscle tensions faded away and released a deep emotional pain that I couldn't hold in acceptance at the time.

These kinds of practices can release deep emotions that are probably best worked through with a professional, if you have deep neurosis - like you and I have.

Emotional release isn't uncommon in meditation practices, but no one told me that when I started. You can listen to practically any famous teacher like adyashanti, prajna ana, etc (disclaimer I'm a Jon Kabat Zinn secular meditator), and a common theme is 'there's no filter' so emotions are felt very powerfully.

Since I've took up the practice again I'm again touching on repressed emotions, but I've booked some therapist time to help navigate what I encounter. Just advice.

 
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