As many of you know, I (B) began suffering from panic attacks over 1 1/2 years ago. We still don't know how they started, but we've been able to understand more of why they came and how to keep them away.
As with most people, there are many factors that contribute to panic and/or anxiety, but mostly they have to do with change in ones life - new city, new job, new hours, new responsibilities, having children, etc. But for me, I found that the very root of my anxiety came from some old thoughts patterns of how I viewed myself and how I viewed others.
The best resource that I came across was a book recommended to me by my counselor during the fall of last year which is entitled The Search for Significance. This book suggests that all humans tend to believe 4 basic lies:
- I have to meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.
- I have to meet the approval of certain others to feel good about myself.
- People who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.
- I am what I am. I cannot change. There is no hope for me.
At first I thought these statements were too simple to incapsulate all my "issues." But as the author took me through each one, I began to see that these statements, or lies, often times ruled me and forced me into some inappropriate behaviors, thoughts, and actions.
The best part of the book was how simply he answered these lies by stating the core truths of the gospel (these correspond to the false beliefs above).
- Because of justification, we are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. We no longer have to fear failure.
- Because of reconciliation, we are totally accepted by God.
- We no longer have to fear rejection. Because of propitiation, we are deeply loved by God. We no longer have to fear punishment or punish others.
- Because of regeneration, we have been made brand new, complete in Christ. We no longer need to experience the pain of shame.
As I read through many passages from Scripture, I was reminded of how powerful the gospel is. I was reminded that I am deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing to God, totally acceptable and accepted, and that I am absolutely complete in Christ.
The hard work of the book was the last half in which the reader is taught how to replace these long standing false beliefs with the powerful truths of the gospel. It didn't come naturally, but I am much better off now that I can ask myself "What false belief am I believing? Why am I believing this? What is the truth about myself and this other person?"
I found that much of my anxiety came from believing these false beliefs and letting them go unchecked.
If you ever find yourself overreacting to certain experiences or getting easily flustered by other's comments or actions, I highly recommend going through this book AND it's corresponding workbook.