How I became free of Anxiety Series
Part 1 of 13
Recognizing I was causing the anxiety and panic attacks with my scary, negative and catastrophic thinking.
As I look back my first step in becoming free of generalized anxiety and panic disorder was crucial to all that followed. This first step was becoming aware of and taking responsibility for this truth, I was causing my anxiety. Learning I was causing my anxiety meant I could do something about it. I could learn new perspectives concerning my current circumstances and future potential situations. In the series to follow I go into detail about how I was the primary contributing source of the condition of constant anxiety and how I turned to the Truth. I didn’t know any better until I learned a few things, I had been practicing anxiety my whole life and was very good at it. Now I know better!
The day I became aware I was causing my own anxiety was the last day I had panic attacks. I like to think this was God’s encouragement to me that I was on the right path. Something clicked in me that day. I thought the feeling of panic was happening to me, not something within me I had any control over. I could dare to believe that I was no longer destined to live my life anxiously! I could learn, new to me, ways of viewing life I did not know previously. I wasn’t helpless.
My adverse childhood experiences, frightening situations as a child and as an adolescent, the people around me growing up and me (yes even me) I had allowed to tell me I was NOT going to be okay led to the formation of generalized anxiety and eventually to panic disorder by age 12. I wasn’t really aware of this process when I was a child: I just learned to do this to myself at a young age because of fear, before I had any ability to reason things through. Anxiety became a way of life, a habit, the lens of a lie through which I viewed my future.
Becoming aware of my role in my own anxiety prepared me to take responsibility for change in the areas I have control.
The steps I took:
1. Admitting (confessing) I was causing my own panic and anxiety with my scary, negative and catastrophic thinking.
2. Believing I could do something about it, I could be free of the crippling anxiety by learning new ways of responding to challenges, taking responsibility for my anxious habits, getting help/instruction if I didn’t know what to do and letting the Holy Spirit guide me in my journey away from anxiety.
3. Repenting of anxiety. Acknowledgement that I needed to make change in how I viewed the experiences of life, determining to make those changes and asking God to grant revelation into old habitual ways of responding to my future.
4. Willingness to journal through long practiced and ingrained ways of responding to stressful (to me) life situations, believing God is beginning the freeing process and will walk with me as I work through anxiety. (see our journaling instructions if you haven’t already at www.lifeinthesprings.org). Confessing and repenting of ungodly attitudes such as refusing to be thankful, anger at God, and choosing to be stubborn or rebellious, self pity (this is a big one), needing to have my own way, or any attitude that journaling consistently brought up that hindered or precluded joyful thankfulness and praise to God.
5. Being willing to learn a number of new ways of viewing my future based on God’s truth, not my past experiences or lifelong scary thinking that kept me trapped in a never-ending cycle of anxiousness. Choosing to believe what God says about my future is truer than my fearfulness. Knowing that anxiety can be a prophet spirit speaking against God’s plan for my life. Learning to discern if I was responding to my future with practiced anxiety or if I was listening to thoughts, ideas or suggestions from Satan.
6. Learning to police my thought life, taking thoughts captive and making them (by force and choice) obedient to Christ. Willfully causing my thinking to agree with God. I have a responsibility to know what thoughts are running through my head.
7. Learning a new response to stress, or external experiences and circumstances with a potential for anxiety. The outcome may not change due to the choosing trusting God, but the lead up to the outcome is changed dramatically. Let me explain. Anxiety much of the time interferes with proactive problem solving, leads to foggy inaction and puts negative or damaging stress on the nervous system (for me caused me to feel tired and sluggish). Peaceful and alert trusting God dealing with life in the present moment leads to recognition of unique solutions or alternative ways, decisiveness and allows the nervous system to be energetic and awake.
There are some important concepts I began to understand through this process. Unrepented sin and willful disobedience was a part of my anxiety, fear, stress. Purifying myself of ungodliness by agreeing with and obeying the truth began to bring me into intimate relationship with God. All I learned to be free of anxiety required first and foremost for me to be willing, and even eager, confess my disagreements or resentment with God, repent of any willful disobedience or mistrust, any accusation against His character, determining to obey the truth and willingness to be teachable and changeable. Following the giving up of my ways the wounded areas in me were opened up and healing could begin. I was ready to press into my God and become the person He created me to be.
The journey to freedom took me a while. I received some immediate relief knowing there were steps I could take to unlearn anxiousness and learn peace. Learning the Truth and to live in intimacy with God was the answer. I will elaborate in the teaching series on each of the 13 areas I had to learn/change. We are not meant to travel the road to freedom alone. Invite the Holy Spirit to help with your anxiousness, get ministry (be a seeker), prayer, fellowship with other believers regularly and KNOW that God has a plan for your life and that plan is a GOOD plan. Get into agreement with His work in your life and ask for help if you need it. LITS would love to walk with you on your journey to freedom, we have programs just for you. See our website www.lifeinthesprings.org