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Nov 08

FEAR: Understanding Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and Depression are most often rooted in some sort of fear.  We may not even realize the exact causes for our current state but fear usually plays a part in why we can’t seem to break free.  It is expressed and felt in different ways, situations and times so it can be hard to recognize…

I’ve spent a decent portion of my life living in fear without even knowing it.  Mainly of the worrying variety, mostly in relation to codependency and the people I love most.  Usually it doesn’t really feel like fear at first.  It might feel more like anger, general anxiety, confusion or helplessness.  It is an unmanageable and often unreasonable emotion that can take on a life of its own sometimes.  Building and gathering steam as I feed it with my own thoughts.

I believe this is where depression starts.  When we feel that we have utterly lost control and become consumed with our negative thoughts to the point where nothing else really seems to matter it begins to grow without requiring any more real effort on our part.  Grief, abuse and addiction are just a few of the many ways that chronic fear, anxiety and negativity can begin to sneak in and take over our lives.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”   ~ Marcus Aurelius

It’s common to feel trapped and stuck in our negative emotions and thoughts, especially when we have been subjected to trauma of some kind.  We often feel that we no longer have control over our feelings and circumstances.  We replay events adding more and more emotion as time goes on and the pain grows.  This is where step-work can be helpful.  Depression and anxiety are spiritual maladies.  No matter how valid their root cause may be, it is our unhealthy and prolonged reaction that does the most damage.  It is in admitting our powerlessness that we find the Power to relieve the pain.  In learning to let go we choose to see what is still good in our lives and we begin to make changes that lead to healing.  Filling that emptiness with something more powerful than we are, with something good, drives out fear and fear is most often what keeps us stuck in destructive thinking patterns.

Since fear can express itself in so many ways we must be able to recognize it if we hope to address it.  Understanding and admitting our circumstances and our emotions is a crucial step in recovery.  There are many acronyms for the word FEAR.  It is a loaded and complex little four letter word that explains much about the path to spiritual, emotional and physical maladies of all kinds.  So let’s have a look at the two that seem to be most common and why they relate:

Frustration – This may be where it all starts.  Some sort of pain has come into our lives and we become frustrated with trying to fight it off.  Isolation, addiction and obsession are common reactions to prolonged frustration.  Rather than finding acceptance we fixate on the source of discomfort and whether truly severe or exaggerated it begins to draw our consistent attention.

Ego – Human beings tend to identify with everything through the false “self” of the ego.  It refers to the part of the mind that processes information and forms our perception of ourselves and everything that our lives touch.  It creates the explanation, the drama, every story and all of our attachments even though it doesn’t necessary speak the truth.  This is where the idea that our thoughts create our reality stems from… we believe that what we think is the full reality and that begins to express itself in the way we live whether we are right or wrong in our perception.

Anger – Believe it or not anger is almost always an expression of fear as well as being a very strong factor in creating more fearful emotions in its wake.  Some people get upset and cry while others become increasingly angry.  When anger comes into the mix it is very hard to see things clearly, creating pain and sickness as it grows.

Resentment – Resentments stem from unaddressed emotions.  Maybe there are conversations we need to have to put things right, people we need to forgive (including ourselves) and circumstances that we must accept before we will find relief.

Those four words do a lot to explain the fear in our lives and the different ways fear can relate to anxiety and depression.   Four more words that always get my attention further the explanation:

False ~ Evidence ~ Appearing ~ Real

This very much relates to the Ego as explained above.  If our thinking is faulty and unhealthy our circumstances will continue to follow that path.  We do not have to accept our fears as our ongoing reality.  They do not need to define us.  We do have access to a Power far greater than we are that can lift us out of the pit.  Understanding that our own thoughts are continually fueling our suffering and blocking comfort breaks the cycle.  We are no longer helpless.  We do have a choice.

Explore the website and previous posts for more information on holistic recovery and working the Steps.   Look around and be inspired to choose healing.

 

More detailed resources for working through painful emotions with the 12 Steps:

The Steps

http://www.emotionsanonymous.org/

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