Guest post from Cyndy Lavoie
Years ago I was struggling with anxiety.
It had come on so fast (within just a few months), and so strong that I was seriously considering going to the doctor for some medication to help.
When I am anxious I feel it in the middle of my back. My muscles lock down and it feels as though a band is constricting my torso. The rest of my body feels wired up and ready for an emergency; my fight or flight mode kicks into high gear.
Prior to this I had never been prone to anxiety but life had become exceptionally stressful due to a primary relationship that was becoming increasingly unsafe both emotionally and psychologically and which was leaving my future very uncertain.
Thankfully, at the time I was going through the Genesis Process through my local church and just as I was about to go to my doctor for a medical solution to my anxiety I learned through The Genesis Process that anxiety is a control response – meaning that when there is something in life that we are trying to control (avoid the pain of that thing) our body’s response is anxiety.
Out of that knowledge this is what I began to do.
Each time I felt the indicators of anxiety in my body, that band constricting my torso with a concurrent spike of adrenalin, I would immediately pause and stop to identify what thought had just gone through my brain, to which my response was one of control.
Often, because my thoughts follow each other so fast I would have to go back a few thoughts to find the culprit. But each time it worked. Each time I would think back a couple of thoughts, all present within the last one to two minutes (often the last 30 seconds), and sure enough I could identify the thought that had preceded the anxiety response.
I would then grab hold of that thought, that contained worry and fear and things that I could not control, and I would stare the worry, the uncontrollable scenario, straight in the face, so to speak.
I would face my worst case scenario as represented by that worry and thought and I would come to terms with it, and the anxiety response would, within minutes, leave my body.
What was happening was that I stopped avoiding the pain represented in the thought. I did a little mini-grieving session that, ‘If such and such happens I would still be okay’, and in putting down the need to avoid the pain and control the outcome (of a particular life scenario at that time) the anxiety would immediately dissipate.
I began doing this regularly and within two months was completely anxiety free.
This was some ten years ago and since then I rarely experience anxiety. When I do feel that familiar band tightening my torso I repeat the process I learned years ago, I will check my thoughts and ask myself, “What was I just thinking about that I am trying to control (pain I am trying to avoid)?”
Staring a worst case scenario in the face is where we ‘imagine’ through our ‘greatest fear’ and come to terms with it in our heart and mind, “If such and such happens, I’ll still be okay.”
By relinquishing any need to control our worst case scenario (and any need to avoid the pain of it) we find freedom from anxiety.
by Cyndy Lavoie