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!
Reid Wilson’s approach to cognitive behavior therapy changed my life. No longer trapped by a driving phobia, I drive anywhere and everywhere, sometimes still telling my amygdala to give it a rest. Reid now has a new online course which I can guarantee will change your thinking about anxiety! The course is called “Stop Worrying: Powerful New Tools for Anxiety Relief.”
Why am I so convinced that this course will be life changing? Two reasons: Because it is founded on the latest brain research and Reid Wilson is an expert in this field. The video below explains what happens in your brain when you come across something scary, like a snake. Watch it and be amazed at how fabulous your brain is- and how that amazing brain can make a mess of fear.
More info on this course to follow!
Cee’s Share Your World challenge has wonderful questions that could easily take me 1,000 words to answer! Aren’t you glad I don’t write posts that long anymore? Here’s my response to just one question, “Any phobias?” Although I had experienced a couple of panic attacks earlier in my life, I didn’t know that’s what they were. Then I suffered a panic attack at the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida and thought I was losing my mind.
Sadly, I was on a long trek to a major driving phobia. Eventually, just getting on a freeway or bridge caused me to faint. Fortunately my husband was sitting next to me the last time I attempted a freeway and we managed to pull off as I blacked out. Talk about scary. My world shrank, fear by fear. I struggled to navigate small back roads and had to be chauffeured by friends and family.
I suffered from this worsening phobia for 12 years. I tried biofeedback, will power, praise and worship, and years of desperate prayers. I felt that God was going to heal me, but when? How? What if I thought I was healed but passed out, killing myself and others? Then I attended a cognitive behavior therapy workshop with Reid Wilson, director of Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center. I knew nothing about his approach or I wouldn’t have gone. Seriously. But what a lifesaver that weekend was, a true answer to my prayers. I was back on the freeway and conscious! Since then, I’ve driven everywhere; my dearest teaching widower hardly ever gets a turn. He was a bit anxious himself as I took my hands off the wheel and shrieked with joy while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge last year.
I am “cured” but I use quotation marks because I’m grateful that a phobia may still raise its hairy head. My brain occasionally thinks it is protecting me (“Pass out! Pass out!”) and I’ve had a few panic attacks since that weekend. My response? Bring it on! I am free and determined to stay that way! If you suffer from phobias, check out Reid Wilson’s marvelous approach to anxiety disorders.