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In the age of anxiety... Take back your mind!

Posted 4/27/2019

I am going to be very vulnerable and transparent with you right now. For much of my life, and still today, I have suffered from anxiety. As I spoke about in last week’s blog, I had, and have, a feeling that I’m not enough in certain areas of my life. This anxiety has been with me, at some level, for most of my life. I have been great at trying to hide it, cover it and push it down, so I can’t notice it, but, it keeps impacting my life. I have just learned a better way. A way to not just hide it, not just live with it, but actually remove it from my life altogether.

Anxiety is a terrible thing, and, I would venture to say that you are, have or will suffer from it at some stage in your life, and, it will be more than just a minor thing. You see, it’s insidious. It’s destroying health, ruining relationships, damaging careers, obliterating bank accounts and trashing lives that are meant to be on-purpose, abundant and amazing. As I talk about often, with my ‘T.E.A.R.S of Joy’ model; everything we have in our life, good or bad starts with a thought, a thought we choose. That thought leads to an emotion, in this case I’m talking about anxiety. This emotion, in addition to causing all sorts of physical health problems, leads to actions that will become routines/habits producing predictable results. The results of thoughts that lead to anxiety are, in most cases, very far from what people want to see happen in their lives. This is certainly the case for me, what about you?

The simplicity of understanding this model, and the fact that we get to choose our thoughts, means that all we have to do is change the thoughts that are causing the issues and the anxiety is gone, right? Oh, how I wish it were that easy! I have been teaching this stuff for many years, and I still suffer from anxiety. I have been praying, affirming, reading, listening, associating with positive people and going through a massive brain overhaul, over many years, yet, I still suffer from anxiety. How can that be? Well, again, I’m grateful for people in the community Laura and I have created. A pastor at the church I attend sent me a YouTube video of the interview between Pastor Steven Furtick and Dr Caroline Leaf, world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist, author, and speaker.

The blurb for the interview was; In this interview, she reveals how to practically stop toxic thoughts and rewrite the way we think. I was immediately intrigued, and so I watched. What I saw and heard excited and confused me at the same time. I’m sure you can imagine that what is simple to a cognitive neuroscientist is complex to the rest of us mere mortals! So, I watched the interview again and again and again. I think in the last week or so, I’ve watched it about ten times, and to be honest, I still don’t get it all. What I will say is that I now understand how my mind and brain works, and, what I need to do to get rid of anxiety. I am just a 10-days into this process, and I am feeling so much better already. Interested to find out more? If so, keep reading.

Freaking out in the love zone!

To get more in-depth information about what I’m about to briefly try and explain, I encourage you to explore Caroline Leaf’s amazing website at www.drleaf.com. I am going to give you my limited understanding and outline of what I’ve been doing since I discovered this incredible person. Thirty years, Dr Leaf asked what she describes as a ridiculous question; can the mind change the brain? It was a ridiculous question because the view of the people who knew, at that time, was that the brain couldn’t be changed. In other words, brain damage couldn’t be fixed, neural pathways were set, and you just had to work around any brain issues you were experiencing.

It was believed that deeply established beliefs and thoughts became part of the brain and they couldn’t be changed. You see, as Dr Leaf explains, thoughts are physical things and take up physical space in the brain. They look a lot like trees, with many branches, and the more established a thought or belief, the more branches there are and the bigger the tree. What Dr Leaf has spent 30-years proving, scientifically, is that the right thoughts, in what she describes as the love zone, can be strengthened, and the negative thoughts, in the fear zone, can be destroyed. However, we need to be careful because what most people do, as they try to overcome negative beliefs, can actually be strengthening toxic trees and causing brain damage.

She explains that brain damage can occur when our words, intentions and actions don’t match. When we say one thing, but don’t back it up with the commitment to follow through and create the change we want, we develop, as she calls it, cognitive dissidence. This causes damage to the brain. So, her answer to breaking down the toxic trees in the brain and replacing them with strong, healthy ones is to ‘freak out in the love zone!’ It means bringing the fears, anxieties and concerns into awareness where they can be dealt with. Instead of trying to mask fear, be ashamed of anxiety or cover up indiscretions, she says become aware, admit and bring these thoughts up from the darkness into the light. When this happens, incredibly, the toxic trees immediately begin to break down and weaken.

Awareness and honesty, in a safe place, starts to change the brain chemistry and the neural pathways to help you move from anxiety to peace, from fear to love and from shame to acceptance. This, my friends, is life-changing stuff, and, it only takes 63-days. It is Dr Leaf who explains scientifically, why sixty-three consecutive days is what it takes to permanently change thought patterns in the brain. Since watching this video for the first time, I have begun her five-step, 63-day program, and I can tell you that, even in just 10 days, I feel like I’m a different person, and the anxiety that I normally wake up with every day, is disappearing.

For 7-16 mins every day, here are the five steps I take, and will do for 63-days;

Step One – Become aware/mindful of the anxiety or fear I have
Step Two – Ask myself where the feelings are coming from, answer honestly and discuss.
Step Three – Write it down
Step Four – Read it
Step Five – Decide what one thing I will do today.

This process is simple and powerful and in just 10-days is already working. For me, the main thing I am doing, for step five, is freaking out in the love zone, and that means being open and honest with myself, and the right people, to tell them how I really feel. Laura is starting to get used to me saying I want to freak out in the love zone, as is my pastor at church. It is changing my life. We are definitely living in the age of anxiety, but it doesn’t need to be that way. If anything I’ve discussed in this blog resonates for you, do some more research, then, get started and take back your mind!