Sunday, August 24, 2014

FROM FEAR TO FREEDOM: Awareness Is The First Step

Have you ever felt excited to start a new project, begin a new endeavor or take on a new challenge that you KNOW would be really great for you, but only to somehow get stuck again and again? Have you ever wondered why that happens?  

It’s FEAR! 

Fear can be our friend. Thankfully, we all have an instinctual mechanism that turns on the fight or flight response to real danger, but I'm talking about the kind of fear that is an illusion. The kind that lies to us and convinces us there is real danger. 

Sometimes fear is obvious and sometimes it’s not obvious at all. Let me explain. In my book:  In Pursuit of the Divine Written Stories To Empower A Woman's Soul,  I write about a seemingly meaningless episode I experienced in Kindergarten and how that was a seed that grew to a full blown Panic Disorder in adult hood.  If you have ever experienced excessive and irrational anxiety you will be familiar with the "fear of the fear" the fear of the symptoms and not having control over them.  That’s the obvious fear. Not so obvious, however, were deeper fears. Fears I held deeply in my core belief system; fears of not being enough. We all have this fear to some degree. Even the most confident among us! 

What I have come to understand and what has helped me so much is this quote by Marianne Williamson. It was one of my biggest a-ha moments and I share it with you now, so you can know this truth too:

Don't you love it? It was a life changer for me and I hope it speaks to you too! 

Sometimes fears are not obvious at all. Behaviors such as procrastination, spinning your wheels, feeling like you’re not accomplishing anything, keeping yourself out of relationships or repeatedly getting into relationships that are not good for you. Or when trying to lose weight, you might reach your goal weight, but for some reason can’t keep it off.  Of course, sometimes the reason is hormonal or medical, but you find yourself in situations where you just can't figure out why these patterns keep happening? Or, worse, you don't even question them. You accept that it is your reality.

I have been there too! And sometimes I can find myself visiting there still. But, NOW I understand it and know exactly what to do about it.

You see, once you understand that what is really happening is a specific mind set; a belief system (BS) that you have, stories that are untrue and BS that you have been telling yourself consciously and unconsciously (probably for years and probably not even from you originally). Once you get that, you are on your way to real and lasting freedom from the fears holding you back from the life you deserve. 

Life is meant to be lived in JOY NOT FEAR!  Fear that you are not enough, fear of failure, fear of being seen and heard, fear of getting emotionally hurt (again) is not allowing you to live fully. 

Awareness it the first key to change. Understanding the thought/mood connection is the first step. 

Start small with simply noticing and becoming aware of your thoughts and how they make you feel.  What I did many years ago was track my thoughts in a notebook. When I started to see them on paper I quickly became aware that what I was thinking was actually creating how I was feeling.  Oh, and don't get freaked out, we all have negative thoughts throughout the day and since we are focusing on them it's not unusual to feel even more of the emotion. That's normal. I had a lot of anxious thoughts back in the day creating tons of anxiety! You will start to see a clear correlation between your thoughts and your mood. That's good because you will understand that you have some control now. You will understand that your emotions are not just happening out of the blue, there is a thought first!
Once you have written down a thought statement, for example: "She didn't call me back yet, she must not care." Then ask yourself this question from Byron Katie's work: Is it true? Can I be 100% positive that that thought/belief is true? Next, ask yourself, What else could it mean? "Maybe she is just busy." Could that be true? We are starting with "automatic thoughts" (AT) here. When I work with a client, we start with these free flowing automatic thoughts and later we dig a bit deeper to the next two levels of thought, Assumptions and Core Beliefs. AT's are a great place to begin.
Remember, you can't change what you're not aware of! I hope you feel curious and try it out.

I would love to hear from you! 
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Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R, CCT, AADP, CPNLP is a Holistic Psychotherapist specializing in stress and anxiety.
Visit her website and grab your free report and free 6 part audio training Series! 

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