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© 2,003 by George Hartwell M.Sc.
You may copy or circulate for non-commercial uses with appropriate credit, GCH.
It is fundamental that:
qYou act on what you believe.
qYou become what you rehearse.
qYou fulfill what you see (imagine, visualize) yourself doing.
Your life is a story. You shape your own story by the stories you rehearse in your head. What you rehearse in your head reflects what you believe. What you rehearse in your head and believe is what you speak to those who listen to you.
In Narrative Therapy, your therapist will encourage you to tell your good story. By rehearsing you good story you will begin to see and believe yourself fulfilling that good story.
In Cognitive Therapy, your therapist will encourage you to question unhealthy assumptions that shape unhealthy beliefs. By thinking and believing healthier beliefs, you will begin to rehearse, imagine, think and act in healthier ways.
In Listening Prayer Therapy, your therapist will make use of listening prayer for you to discover your negative beliefs and to listen to God for godly truths to live by. Your new beliefs will shape what you see, think, feel and act in such a way that you will find yourself living a healthier life.
You overcome fear when you rehearse your good stories, defeat irrational assumptions and hear God's truth for you.
Your Courage Bank
Throughout your life there have been:
qGoals to achieve.
qRisks to face.
qSkills to master.
There were many milestones in your first three years. Have you forgotten learning to walk? Or talk? Do remember how good it felt to master these skills? There were risks involved. Do you remember these?
You wanted to achieve this enough to face the risks and master the skill. You did it. Congratulations! Add these experiences to your Courage Bank.
Every time you moved toward one of your goals you drew upon your deposits in your Courage Bank - your memories of past achievements. Your lifetime of achievements, properly understood, is ammunition to overcome your Worry Pictures.
To develop a healthy Courage Bank you must remember and rehearse past successes: what you wanted to achieve, the risks involved, the effort you put in to achieve your goals and how you felt. Write these down and write down a positive conclusion that can be drawn from each success.
Rehearse your successes in your imagination. Memorize them and the positive conclusions that you can draw from them. See yourself as one who can face risks, moves ahead with courage and who achieves. Remember the good feeling of success.
Every time you learned a new skill, a new subject or a new game you faced risks and you overcame them. Write out a list of skills, subjects and games that you mastered. Remember how it felt to overcome your hesitations and move ahead with courage.
How else did you learn to: read, skate, ride a bike, ski, swim, water ski, fly a kite, play monopoly, baseball, soccer, ping pong, play the piano, ride horseback or sail? Now you can draw upon the courage you had then to face something new now.
Your Success Image
You will be able to transform anxiety into anticipation of a challenge if you build a healthy balance in your Courage Bank and develop your own success image.
When you face a new situation and you are tempted to look at it with anticipations of danger and fear, use your success image to transform your images into those of a challenge like you have faced before.
I spend two summers learning to wind surf. It was a great challenge. It was great fun. It was real safe. It created a great Success Image in my mind to convert anxiety into a healthy challenge. I just remember wind surfing - challenge, safe and fun.
The images of wind surfing from my Courage Bank tell me: "This is a challenge - it is safe and great fun. I can take the risk and enjoy the challenge." All I have to do is call up my Success Image and it transforms my nervousness into healthy anticipation of an exciting challenge.
You, too, can develop a vivid image of a real challenge that you faced with success. Recall the good feeling of mastery. Remember the good feeling. Choose you self-talk to remind yourself of this when tempted to freeze with fear.
Use your Success Image to cut worries down to size and to transform your anxieties into healthy anticipation of a challenge.
In events, like public speaking, you can generate anxiety by imagining people looking at you, criticizing you and judging you. The audience seems so powerful and you seem so weak.
In this case your imagination is working against you. You imagine people disapproving of you and your presentation. It becomes hard for you to remain calm.
Just like a movie projector throws a movie on a screen, we use our imagination to project our own images onto others. When you project your 'Critic' on the audience, you will face an audience of critics. This could easily lead to fear.
To overcome this fear you must reverse your projection. Imagine your audience being in a silly or embarrassing position. What if the sprinkler system went off! What if they all needed to burp at the same time! By doing this you break up your fearful images.
I am not alone!
You are more anxious, more prone to panic attacks, if you believe that you are alone. You are more courageous and confident if you deeply believe: "I am not alone."
In public speaking it helps to know that some of the audience is there for you. "They are upholding me. They are praying for me. They want me to do well."
If you know God in a personal way, it is encouraging to remember God's love for you. Reminding yourself that He is always with you helps reduce fear.
It will help to develop a bank of images of "I am not alone." Remember times that people have been there for you from the earliest times of your life. Write down the names of people you know who support you and affirm you.
Write down some key stories (memories) of people being there for you. Write out a positive conclusion for each story. Let the conclusion strengthen your belief that: "I am not alone."
Rehearse these stories and the story conclusion and let yourself feel good - comforted and encouraged. If it is difficult to do this on your own it is important to get professional help to develop healthier beliefs, recall good memories and rehearse positive stories and see your life differently.
God is Good!
You are more anxious and prone to panic attacks if you believe this world is a dangerous place. You are more courageous and confident if you deeply believe: "I am safe. I live in a safe place. This community is getting safer and safer. People here are good."
In public speaking remind yourself: "The audience is on my side. They just want me to relax and do well. They like me. They are okay and I am okay."
If you believe in God it helps to remember that: "God is love. God is good. God is the source of wisdom, beauty and truth. God watches over me. His Spirit is with me."
Develop images, stories and positive conclusions from past experiences that recall to you that you are safe; people in you community are good, that things work out for good (see Romans 8:28), and God protects you supernaturally.
Keep a blessing book to record one event each day that illustrates these conclusions. Write out stories from the past when you knew that you were protected, when people helped you, when things worked out for the good.
Rehearse these events in your mind - imagine them, feel the good feelings and state the positive conclusion. If it is very difficult to difficult for you to do this on your own it is quite important to get professional help to develop healthier beliefs, recall good memories and rehearse positive stories and see your life differently - and avoid fear.
Overcoming Fear by George Hartwell (416) 234-1850, www.HealMyLife.com
1.Beck, Aaron & Emery. Anxiety Disorders and Phobias, 1985. Outlines a treatment program based on cognitive therapy. Tends to be for the clinician.
2.Benson, Herbert. The Relaxation Response, 1975. Presents a specific strategy for reducing stress - learning how to relax.
3.Benson, Herbert. Beyond the Relaxation Response, 1984. Describes a strategy of harnessing faith in a healing power inside or outside oneself.
4.Bourne, Edmund. Beyond Anxiety and Phobia, 2001. A self-help book focusing on life style changes needed to help combat anxiety and panic attacks. Library.
5.Carrington, Patricia. The power of letting Go. Helpful self-help book with a new approach to overcoming anxiety involving releasing of control. Recommended.
6.Clarkson, Michael. Intelligent Fear, 2002. A clearly written study on fear and on training and harnessing one's fears to enhance performance. Highly recommended to expand on the concept of high performance fear or 'smart fear.'
7.Donovan, Denis, and D. McIntyre. What did I Just Say!?! Insights into children's thinking and adult language and how to communicate with your child. Includes some examples how adult talk created childhood fears. Recommended.
8.Gallwey, Timothy. The Inner Game of Work, 2000. The Inner Game of Tennis. The Inner Game of Golf. An innovative understanding of how we need to get our mind out of the way in order to maximize work, music and sports performance. His work help's one to understand how to structure work and play, management and coaching so that one is able to access full potential. Recommended.
9.Hartwell, George. Listen to God, 2002. An outline of some of the methods used in Listening Prayer Therapy to deal with different topics. Listening Prayer Therapy is a treatment method harnessing the power of prayer to penetrate root memories and bring healing to the negative beliefs resident in these memories.
10.Maltz, Maxwell. Five Minutes to Happiness, 1962. Thoughts to Live By, 1975. Self-help in relaxing, positive thinking and establishing a new self-image.
11.Peurifoy, Reneau. Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic, 1995. A well-rounded self-help book covering good variety of topics. In Toronto Public library system.
12.Siegel, Robert. Six Seconds to True Calm, 1995. A self-help book based on a training program for relaxation and relief of stress with innovative components.
13.Seligman, Martin. Learned Optimism, 1990. An excellent self-help book focused on positive thinking based on psychological research. Encourages one to develop a more optimistic life style.
14.Watson, David and R. Tharp. Self-Directed Behavior: Self-Modification for personal Adjustment, 1972. Includes instructions for self managed desensitization.
15.Wilson, Reid. Don't Panic: Taking control of Anxiety Attacks, 1986. This book is highly rated by clinicians and is considered an easy to read self-help book. The book provides specific instructions on relaxation techniques similar to those referred to in "Overcoming Fear."