Step four of overcoming anxieties and phobias, as taught by Reid Wilson, is to transform fear into something more helpful. This makes powerful use of current brain research that changed my life forever. In this step, you are activating the fear neural circuitry so that you can generate a new fear-free circuitry! (Click here for previous posts.)
In my case, a driving phobia was crippling me. Sure, I needed a chauffeur (usually my dearest teaching widower) but it was much worse than that. It was torture, no matter who was driving. My clever amaydala translated the fear of jumping out of the car while driving to a fear of jumping out of a car no matter what.
What happens in step four? You practice kicking butt. I told my amygdala that NOTHING was more important than freedom. Freedom from fear and freedom to drive with joy. Freedom to drive to work. Freedom to pick up my widower from the airport. Freedom to drive any time, in any vehicle, on any road. Even the highest bridges or most lanes. Freedom is more important than the feelings of fear that still pop up. Scary feelings? Beh. I like the feeling of freedom!
Be sure to check out Reid’s online course when it becomes available this fall! You can do this!
Okay, this third step in Reid Wilson’s program to shed worries and phobias was not what I wanted to hear.
I had attended his small group workshop with a few other folks, desperate to overcome my fear of driving. Over 12 years, my world had shrunk to two-lane roads and occasionally, the driveway. I knew I was losing this battle, so I went to the workshop praying there was something AMAZING that he could do to change my life.
Step three involves what you or I can do. It’s a determination to listen to a different voice in your head. The other scary noise will be there, but the voice you listen to is different. My amygdala did not like it at all. It still doesn’t. I was uncertain that I could tell my brain the truth about driving, that I could practice making that truth the strongest voice. But I did and it was the most AMAZING experience!
See, I was imagining this workshop and wondering how Reid was going to get in the car with me and make this work. What if the other folks had driving phobias, too? How would he help all of us? The great news is that I didn’t need him with me. I headed right out for the freeway, in a downpour of rain, and shouted in a new voice. I’m kinda glad no one else was in the car.
Was I still scared? Yes. But was I training my brain in a new and exciting way? Yes!
Previously, I wrote about a wonderful cognitive behavioral therapy approach to anxiety and phobias developed by Reid Wilson. The first step is understanding how our brain works to protect us and in that process, may not be helpful at all.
The second step in dealing with these issues is to step away from the noise and false signals. In my case, my brain was very eager to tell me all the “dangers” associated with driving. I might kill my family. I might crash into other cars and kill those folks. I might drive myself off the road. I might even throw myself out of the car. My brain had gotten so good at “protecting” me that I would faint if I drove on anything but a two-lane road. How’s that for safety? This second step also focuses on your motivation to stop the noise, the crazy thoughts that pass for reality. In truth, when Reid told me to simply tighten my chest instead of relaxing, the fear of fainting (vasovagal syncope) had no way to hold me back from freedom.
This fall, check out Reid WIlson’s online course (not yet available). Learn how to be free of noise in your head!