Monday, February 23, 2009

Fear Not! (Because it isn't helping....)

(Scene of a favorite serenity spot in San Clemente, California. I see why Nixon loved it here...)
How many times in the last few months have you heard some newscaster or pundit ask a financial expert, “In light of the economical breakdown, should we be afraid?”

And I want desperately to break in and say, “In light of the economical meltdown, the LAST thing we need to be is afraid. We need to be wise, peaceful, diligent and courageous. But the last thing we need muddying our emotional waters is fear.”

Our nation as a whole seems to have GAD ( Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and it isn’t helping the situation at hand. Here’s a quote from coach, Martha Beck, that I love.

Here’s one of the very few generalizations I believe unconditionally: There is not one useful thing we do that we don’t do better when we’re relaxed.”

The area of the brain where we can see“pure anxiety” is in the basal ganglia, which Dr. Henslin nicked named The Basement of Giant Fears. It’s the place in our brain where Chicken Little runs rampant, forever proclaiming, "The sky is falling!"

“Fears comes in all sizes: some come and go; some park themselves in your brain for a month or a year, and some for decades, " writes Dr. Henslin in This is Your Brain on Joy, "Some are based on reality and are normal responses to real threats; some are completely imagined; some are a little bit of both. ....When it comes to facing the giants in our brain’s basement, the best therapies all involve some kind of interruption to break up the looping thoughts that feed the monsters in our head.
"For example, if you are watching a scary movie, with the typical doomsday music playing and the shadow of the killer moving ever closer to the victim, your entire body goes on hyperalert. But if the scene is interrupted in any way, by someone opening the door and letting light in the theater, or munching popcorn and giggling, or someone’s cell phone playing the Chicken Dance song, your fears begin to subside, and fast. I use many techniques of pattern-interruption to help my clients who are fearful, adjusting my methods to their degree of trauma.”

Dr. Henslin goes on to a variety of ways to "interrupt fear patterns." In today's blog, I want to share three Anti-Fear Scriptures to help you combat the GAD growing in our country right now. In fact, if you are anxious, I suggest writing them on index cards and putting them on your fridge or car dash, perhaps even putting them to memory.

1. Combat FEAR with LOVE.
"God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. …There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love." (1 John 4: 16-28 The Message)

2. A great verse to sleep on, and I love the poetic quality of the King James version here:
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8 KJV)

3. A classic go-to verse when you are worried. Praying with gratitude has been shown to stop anxious thoughts in their tracks:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you
need, and thank him for all he has done
.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

How will you know when you are free from fear? Here’s what you’ll feel like when peace has subdued anxiety....

Symptoms of Inner Peace

Tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear based on past experience.
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
Loss of interest in judging other people.
Loss of interest in judging self.
Loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
Loss of interest in conflict.
Loss of ability to worry (a very serious symptom).
Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
Contented feelings of connectedness with others and with nature.
Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes and heart.
Increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
Increased susceptibility to love extended from others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

It’s amazing how many times that Jesus (or angels) enters a scene of panic by saying , “Fear not!” or “Peace be with you…” Let these higher voices of calm clarify, center and protect you in troubled times. Because there is “not one useful thing we do that we cannot do better when we are relaxed.” Including dealing with tightening budgets, dwindling savings and job loss. If ever there were a time for cool, serene minds to prevail this is it.

Peace be with you this week, my friends!

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