My first memory of anxiety was the classic grocery store experience, around 5 years old, where you think you’re standing next to your mom and then you realize she’s no where to be seen.
As life progressed other things caused the panic attacks : any sort of presentation for school, giving a maid of honor speech, a friend drinking alcohol and then demanding they drive because it was their car, the thought of anyone close to me dying, getting pulled over, seeing an acquaintance and having to ‘small talk’ with them, lying, covering up lies with more lies, the thought of ‘messing my kids up’ or failing them, my girls throwing tantrums in public, a memory of something fearful, flying in airplanes, reading about all of the horrible and terrible things going on in this world, writing about what makes me anxious, and the list goes on and on – kind of like this run on sentence!
The crazy part about my anxiety was I didn’t realize I had it until a family member was medically diagnosed. I thought that was just life. She described some symptoms and I thought, “well shoot, that sounds like a lot of my symptoms. Maybe I should research it more.” So I had this ‘aha’ moment at the age of 27 that all those aforementioned experiences were connected to anxiety.
I read books, blogs, articles, and anything I could get my eyes on to figure out how to conquer this demon. I talked with my doctor whose only offer was medication. I talked with my counselor, and honestly made the most breakthroughs and leaps forward in healing using tools she gave me.
Unfortunately, after two years of actively utilizing tips and tricks, I haven’t reached what I call fully cured status.
Which brings us to today. Today I sat down to read my 10cent thrift store book entitled Anxiety & Panic Attacks : Their Cause and Cure by Robert Handly (with Pauline Neff). Described in his book is a holistic approach to recovery (without medication).
Below I’ll share my notes on the book in hopes you and I both find our cure.
- panic before you board an airplane?
- freak out before a presentation?
- hyperventilate when you have to leave the house?
- get the shakes before a date?
- want to scream when you enter an elevator?
- feel your stomach drop when your boss asks to see you?
- stay up all night tossing and turning?
- obsess about people, things and places?
- tense up reading the previous questions?
It can come in the form of:
- not being able to concentrate on what’s being said to you
- feeling faint
- queasy stomach
- chronic diarrhea
- heart racing
- thinking all eyes are on you
- sweaty palms
- lightheadedness that prevents you from thinking clearly
- trying to spot problems before they happen so you can “plan” for them
Or in terrifying attacks :
- your heart pounds so hard you fear cardiac arrest
- your breathing turns into hyperventilating
- your mind goes haywire with the awful thought that you are about to lose control
As your anxiety continues, you feel worse and worse. Eventually you try coping mechanisms. A painkiller, a pack of cigarettes, a stiff drink or two, screaming at your kids or spouse, eating everything in sight, or sleeping twelve hours a day to try and escape all the bad feelings. You might even develop the most serious panic disorder, a fear of fear itself – at its most severe a phobia that keeps you imprisoned in your home, afraid that if you go outside you will have another panic attack.
But you cope. You go to the doctor and get a prescription. Why try to fight it? That’s just the way life is.
The dictionary definition of panic is “a sudden overpowering fright, especially a sudden terror often inspired by a trifling cause or misapprehension of danger and accompanied by unreasoning or frantic efforts to secure safety.”
When you worry, think negatively, or have improper attitudes toward stress, you produce vivid mental pictures of the situation you fear. Your body becomes aroused just as if the situation you imagine is actually happening. Then it releases adrenaline, which brings on the physical anxiety symptoms. Therefore; if you can eliminate worry, negative thinking, and improper attitudes toward stress in your mind, you can overcome much of the anxiety that brings on the panic attack.
“A panic attack is a normal reaction of the body to danger. You need to learn to depend on the deepest level of your mind – not will and determination – to control the circumstances in life that are in fact controlling you. And lastly, you need to use both your mind and body to desensitize yourself to the fear of leaving your “safe place.”” Dr. Jim Wilson
Another kind of panic attack is associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is mostly associated with veteran’s of war, however; it can occur with rape victims, children who have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused, anyone who has witnessed a violent crime or bloody accident, and even patients who have undergone disfiguring surgery.
His panic disorder forced him to learn how to use the Five Basic Principles to eliminate negative thinking, build self-confidence, and use the extraordinary powers of his unconscious to eliminate anxiety and panic.
In his opinion, everyone who has a panic disorder can recover as completely as he did. The first step is simply to understand thoroughly how your body and mind work together to produce the fear that causes the terrifying physical symptoms.
“A panic attack is no more than a fight or flight response to sudden danger.” Dr. Jim Wilson
Negative thinking is a culprit.
Poor self-image builds anxiety.
The Five Basic Principles :
1. Use the creative powers of your unconscious mind to help you change yourself.
The unconscious mind stores up information obtained from your feelings.
He refers to the unconscious mind as “the boss.”
The key point to grasp about the boss that nobody ever told you about is that both feelings and behavior are a result of the thoughts you entertain. Furthermore, thoughts are simply ideas, not reality. They are programmed into you at an early age because of your parents’ actions, the environment in which you lived and matured, and circumstances you now face in your life. If you choose with the conscious part of your mind to take control over the unconscious, you can completely change those thoughts and reprogram your life.
Use alpha state to send a message to the boss.
Reaching alpha state involves learning how to fully relax and lowering your brain wave cycle rhythm.
For the alpha script click here.
Once you start seeing some results of programming yourself as you use the script, you will know that you reached alpha even though you didn’t feel any different. After becoming convinced, you will then begin to recognize that the feeling of passive calmness that comes to you while listening to the script is the same feeling you have when you first wake up and are in alpha naturally.
2. Use visualizations and affirmations to change your self-image so that you feel confidence rather than fear.
Affirmations are statements to yourself that you are at this very moment the way you want to be. If you are feeling anxious and depressed, you should affirm the fact that you are perfectly calm, lovable, and worthy.
Visualizations are the mental pictures you create of yourself accomplishing whatever you want to do or be.
Using the alpha script has made you somewhat familiar with the tools of visualization and affirmation. You visualized your secret resting place and used at least one strong affirmation when you said, “I am awake, feeling fine, and in perfect health.”
Visualize scenes that have not yet happened and affirm that you are already different from the way you are now.
You have been using visualizations and affirmations to send commands to your unconscious all your life. If your mental pictures are positive and happy, then you feel upbeat and able to achieve much more than you normally can.
The mental pictures and mind chatter we create can affect our emotional health as much as our actions and physical well-being.
A few examples of good general affirmations that would help anyone subject to anxiety:
- I am a loving, caring person who deserves success.
- Every day, in every way, I am becoming the person I want to be.
- I am perfectly confident, calm, and happy.
- My body is perfectly healthy and normal.
- My mind is functioning perfectly, and I am finding new creative ways to live.
Make your visualizations and affirmations positive, vivid and detailed, incorporate emotions, and use them frequently.
3. Use rational and positive thinking to see yourself and events as they really are and also to visualize how you want them to be.
Discern when you are thinking negatively and irrationally.
Replace those distorted thoughts with positive, rational ones so that Mr. Negative will leave you alone.
He likes to break this goal into what he calls The Five R’s
- Realize that Mr. Negative is part of your consciousness
- Recognize when Mr. Negative is calling.
- Refuse to answer.
- Replace negative and irrational thoughts with reality.
- Relax and reprogram the unconscious mind.
A list of the Big Ten cognitive distortions that affect most anxious people :
3. negative focus
4. refusing the positives
5. the white-is-black phenomenon
6. stretch-or-shrink thinking
7. creating fictional fantasies
8. “should” and “ought” legalisms
9. mistaken identity
10. saying “my fault”
4. Act as if you are already the way you want to be.
This principle basically teaches how not to play the role of victim.
Acting as if is living as you intend to live. It is creating a game plan for changing the destructive behaviors that cause you the anxiety and then taking responsibility for living as if the game plan is already fulfilled. If you are depressed, it could mean reading a joke book to find funny stories you can tell others – even when you don’t find the jokes amusing yourself. Why? Because you know that by acting as if you are happy, you are training your unconscious to stop being depressed. You are no longer allowing yourself to be the victim of fictional fantasy thinking.
When you visualize and affirm that you are calm, you are fooling your unconscious into believing that you are already that way. Acting as if the hammer that nails the positive message in so firmly that it sticks for good.
Intention (visualizing and affirming) -> positive reinforcement (acting as if) -> changed brain response -> calm feelings
Why most people don’t act as if : fear of change, belief they can’t break a bad habit, and ignorance of how to go about it.
5. Set goals to become the person you want to be.
This principle teaches how to draw your own treasure map.
Set goals? Is that all?
Have you ever set goals for the specific purpose of overcoming anxiety? Have you ever coupled goal-setting with other techniques for using the unconscious which will make goal-achieving easy?
Before you sit down to write out your goals, look at this criteria for succeeding in achieving them.
1. You must have a burning desire to succeed in the goal.
2. Your goal must be believable.
3. Make your goals positive.
4. Set goals in all areas of your life.
Now, create your goal book.
Divide it into three areas – mental (habits to break, family relationships), physical (health), and spiritual (learning about spiritual practices).
First go into alpha and then ask yourself what you truly desire.
After identifying your burning desires in the areas of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, select the one you consider most important. Write this goal on a separate piece of paper along with all the directions you will need to reach the treasure. Here is what you should record :
1. The goal, stated in a positive manner.
2. Specific visualizations and affirmations of yourself as if you already achieved that goal.
3. The cognitive restructuring you believe necessary to help you achieve the goal.
4. The increments of the goal that reflect how you will act as if you have already reached this goal.
Example Goal :
Goal: I see myself as a more loving, self-confident person.
Visualization: I will picture myself smiling as I give compliments to five other people each day.
Affirmations: I am loving and self-confident and I am worthy of the love of other people.
Cognitive Restructuring: I will use blue dots to discern when I am doing stretch-or-shrink thinking and I will stop exaggerating my weaknesses and quit putting myself down.
Acting As If: I will pass out five compliments to other each day and I will use Emotional Transfusion each day to better my relationships with ___________.
Person Complimented – Their reaction
Add new goals.
Now it’s up to you to take the information and put it to practice.
Take great care,
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