The #1 mistake we make when trying to heal anxiety and fear.

By Corinne Zupko

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For years and years, I used my spiritual practice of A Course in Miracles as a band-aid. I’d run to the book when I was feeling panicky, I’d read something to make myself feel better, and then I’d get back to doing whatever I was doing before. I’d placate my fears with a lovely passage from the Course.

This helped me feel peaceful to a point, but I still had massive triggers. I couldn’t fly on a plane, I was uncomfortable in crowds of people, I couldn’t go near hospitals without feeling like I was going to pass out, and I still had occasional bouts of overwhelming anxiety. I thought to myself, “Healing will probably come later on. I just have to keep reading the Course.” I kept a gap in place between myself and healing. Healing was something that would happen down the road.

Simultaneously, whenever I’d feel the slightest twinge of anxiety, I’d flee from it, either internally or externally. If I fled internally, I’d simply distract myself from the anxiety. If I fled externally, I’d get out of whatever situation I was in to reduce the anxiety.

I finally reached a breaking point. In 2009, I became barely functional as another massive episode of anxiety and panic attacks showed up at my door, and it lasted for weeks. I had already been studying A Course in Miracles since 1997, and I intuitively knew I was somehow missing the mark.

This is when I realized I was using the Course as an intellectual band-aid. Reciting words and understanding concepts are lovely, but that doesn’t bring fundamental change. I thought I was doing the Course, but I was avoiding the areas that needed to be acknowledged and brought to the light.

“Understanding” the Course and actually doing it are two different things. One approach leads to stagnation. The other leads to freedom.

I also realized I was actually afraid of going further with A Course in Miracles. I had been afraid I’d lose something, that I’d lose my sense of self. I was reminded by the Holy Spirit (who I refer to in my book as our Inner Therapist), that the ONLY thing I was going to lose was fear.

As I committed myself 100% to healing, I was given a download from my Inner Therapist. The number ONE mistake I was making (and that many of us make) in trying to heal anxiety was running away from it.

It was at this time that I stopped running. I turned around to face my anxiety head on instead. The benefit of already having been a Course student for many years was that I knew I did not need to face my fears alone. My Inner Therapist was ready to help.

Running from fear actually fuels it. When we run from fear it keeps a seeming gap in place between us and healing. Healing doesn’t happen later. Healing already is, right now. We simply need to accept it. There is no gap between You and the Truth.

To close the seeming gap between You and healing, three important shifts have to happen:

  1. Be willing to turn towards the fear instead of turning away, if only for a few moments.
  2. Be willing to look at the fear with your Inner Therapist
  3. Be open to a shift in identity from your small “s” self to your capital “S” Self.

Let’s look at each of these shifts a bit more closely. 

1. Be willing to turn towards the fear instead of turning away.

Typically, our reaction when we experience something unpleasant is that we want to make it go away as fast as possible. For example, when your body is too hot or too cold, do you seek to immediately change your environment to get comfy again? What if it is actually okay to be uncomfortable for a short while? What might you learn?

The same holds true for anxiety. When we feel it, we want to get rid of it. But what might we uncover if we don’t distract ourselves from it? What might happen if we look deeply at it with our Inner Therapist?

It’s super important to note that we have to honor where we currently are. If our level of fear is very high, there might be times when distracting ourselves from the fear can be the most loving thing to do. This “turning towards” fear is not about increasing our sense of panic at all. Always be kind and gentle with yourself.

If you are simply willing to turn towards the fear, even just for a few moments, this is all you need to move into the next step.

2. Be willing to look at the fear with your Inner Therapist.

You never ever need to go through anything alone, ever again. This includes looking at all fears and all anxieties. Your Inner Therapist is WITH you and IN YOU precisely to heal whatever you’re willing to bring to it.

Your Inner Therapist’s job is to see straight past what is false (which is all fear) and uphold only the truth (which is all love). Our problem is that we usually don’t let our Inner Therapist do its job. We’d rather bypass or ignore our fear, but ignoring the fear keeps it hidden away from the light.

By turning toward your fears and bringing them to your Inner Therapist, you are saying, “I’m letting you do what you were created to do.” “Show me the truth beyond the form.”

Here is how I do this. I first imagine my Inner Therapist beside me. I like to picture my Inner Therapist as a bright white light that emanates pure love. As I feel my difficult feelings (for example, anxiety), I imagine that my Inner Therapist is shining white light on my fears, which become transparent and then vanish. This is how I imagine “handing things over” for healing.

If I keep taking back those fears and thinking about them again, I look at this as a form of my own UNwillingness to heal. And then I look at that with my Inner Therapist as well. Leave nothing unseen.

3. Be open to a shift in identity from your small “s” self to your capital “S” Self.

The “me” who you identify with is not really who you are. I am not Corinne. You are not “[insert your name].” Although these might sound like nice words, we need an experience of the truth of these words in order to truly trust them.

I stay open to experiences of the Truth by working the first two steps and also bringing my mind into a state of willingness to know Truth and Perfect Love.

In this process, it can be beneficial to think helpful thoughts and engage in helpful actions.

Helpful thoughts include statements like,

– “I am one Self, united with my Creator.” (Lesson 95)

– “My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.” (Lesson 35)

– “…only the truth is true” (ACIM CE Lesson 66, para. 11)

– My body is an effect of my mind, not a cause (From Anxiety To Love p. 112 & inspired by ACIM)

– I am safe because I choose to not protect the ego (From Anxiety To Love p. 127 & inspired by ACIM)

Ask for guidance for additional thoughts that will be helpful to you. These thoughts align your mind with the Truth.

Helpful actions include the willingness to express love to your brothers. This brings you into a state of readiness to experience Perfect Love. By allowing love to extend through us to others, we close the seeming gap between us, and come to know our Self through one another. This is what makes us miracle workers and is how we ultimately wake up from the dream of separation.

A great way to start your day is to ask your Inner Therapist, “What miracles will you have me perform today?” Throughout the day, notice impulses to express love to someone. Maybe you have a loving impulse to pick up the phone and call someone who you have a challenging relationship with, but your unforgiving thoughts get in the way and stop you. If you block these impulses to extend love, be sure to look at this with your Inner Therapist. Ask for guidance about how you can be truly helpful.

The results I’ve seen in my life from living these principles is nothing short of miraculous. I no longer meet criteria for any of the anxiety disorders I used to live with. I can now fly in an airplane while feeling just as peaceful as if my two feet are on the ground. Some of my most difficult relationships have been healed. And my happy list goes on.

I’m grateful every day for the pathway of A Course in Miracles. It truly is helping us awaken.

If you’re someone who benefits from teachings geared specifically to the experience of anxiety, weekly structure, and a community of people committed to healing, check out my program called, “Tools for Healing Anxiety and Fear” in the Teachers of God Foundation’s monthly membership program.

In this class, we will spend four sessions together as we practice emptying ourselves of fear, grounding ourselves in love, getting quiet to rest in God, and navigating relationships that may rouse anger in us. We’ll explore some of the teachings in my book, From Anxiety To Love.

You’ll get specific lessons on healing, tools to implement the teachings, homework to practice throughout the week, and recordings, transcripts, and replays of the classes.

Thank you for the inner work you are doing. It helps us all. My gains are yours and yours are mine because we are ONE.

I love you,

Corinne

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corinne Zupko, Ed.S., is the author of the bestselling and multi-award-winning book, From Anxiety to Love. She began her work with A Course in Miracles in 1997 after struggling with multiple anxiety disorders, and now lives free from debilitating anxiety solely due to the Course. Corinne is a keynote speaker, professor, counselor and coach, and teaches mindfulness meditation classes at Bank of America. Connect with Corinne and get a free meditation at https://fromanxietytolove.com/sign-up/

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Jill
Jill
5 months ago

I loved your lessons in week one of the presenter series, I will carry the condensed list with me 🙂 And in this blog when you shared about not letting go as an unwillingness to heal, and to hand that also to the Light, I am forever grateful for this insight. I never really looked at it this way before, Thank you!