The more I learn about mental health and how it manifests the more I agree that it’s not necessarily our genes that determine our habits and behaviors. A lot of the way we act has been learned, sometimes without us even realizing it.
Worry was like that for me. I learned how to worry about not having enough (the scarcity mindset) along with anxiety, which combined into severe hoarding, from my father. I learned rechecking and list making and being frantic about everything not getting done from my mother. The combination of those behaviors made for quite the mental mess in myself, especially when I was on medications that seriously altered my personality.
I’ve seen the worry and anxiety pass along to my own children from me. They witnessed my mental health downfall and watched as my frantic behaviors unfolded. It was such an awful moment when I realized I’d taught them how to worry.
Being more self-aware of my tendencies and common behaviors has made me realize that worrying doesn’t have to be my destiny. I can unlearn it.
Always being in a rush shows our kids that nervous behavior is how to get things done.
Ruminating on past conversations or rehearsing future ones shows the people around us that we “need” to work everything out in our brains even though we know it won’t likely transpire that way.
Constantly rechecking every single thing shows ourselves that if things aren’t perfect then a disaster is bound to happen.
I’ve read so many studies and articles about how depression and anxiety are genetic and therefore the children of people who have them are destined to have them too. But what if that’s not necessarily true?
Think about it. How can you really determine some biological factor if those kids were raised in the house, witnessing the anxious or depressive behavior? Isn’t it possible that they modeled their own behaviors after what they observed and learned how to deal with life that way, because of it?
If you struggle with worry, take a look at the behaviors you witnessed as a child. Did you model how you deal with anxiety and worrying on what your parents or other people in the household did? Did you learn how to worry?
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