Do you need help for anxiety? There is hope! Even if you struggle regularly with anxiety triggers, God has provided us with ways to turn down the dial of our anxiety and to step out of the hopelessness that it can bring. We can find continued healing from anxiety.
On this episode of the podcast, Alicia is joined by Bryn, a coaching client and participant of the Christian Mindset Makeover who received emotional and spiritual healing from her anxiety by identifying her triggers and working with God to lower her anxiety.
Join Alicia and Bryn as they discuss feeling stuck in a cycle of anxiety, what causes anxiety in the brain, how anxiety can impact our relationship with God, and how we can address the thoughts behind it to identify what causes anxiety in the brain and move toward restoring peace in our lives.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [01:39] Yes, you can find healing from anxiety, even if you’re a lifelong anxiety struggler
- [03:48] Bryn’s lifelong anxiety struggle
- [09:15] Alicia’s anxiety journey through childhood and her career
- [10:58] How anxiety showed up for Bryn in her work as a social worker
- [14:25] How anxiety affects our emotions and spiritual life
- [22:15] How addressing trust issues with God can bring hope for anxiety sufferers
- [23:33] Eye-opening moments that were pivotal to Bryn’s anxiety experience
- [30:03] The practical tools that Bryn found to be helpful with her anxiety
- [33:38] How learning mindset life skills can help manage anxiety triggers
- [39:13] Words of encouragement for those who need hope for healing from anxiety
- [43:26] Alicia’s recap and reflection on her conversation with Bryn
[01:39] Yes, you can find healing from anxiety, even if you’re a lifelong anxiety struggler
If you feel like anxiety is something that you are never going to be able to get on top of, Alicia wants you to know that there is hope. Alicia and her client Bryn share that they have had a life-long struggle with anxiety, and yet God has allowed them to find healing from anxiety. Being anxious is part of their earliest childhood memories, and they ad noticed how it affected them in elementary and high school. They both felt the effects of anxiety in their early careers. When you live with something so pervasive for a long period of time, Alicia knows it can feel very discouraging. It can be easy to ask, Where's God in this? In these moments of hopelessness, it can be helpful to remember stories like Bryn’s.
As you listen to Bryn's story, you will hear her say that anxiety is still something that she struggles with, but what you will also hear her say is she now has this ability to turn down the dial. She acknowledges the anxiety still exists, but she is no longer living in hopelessness. She feels more on top of her anxiety and in control of her feelings. She feels that God is now able to do the work in her because she did the work to let go of her anxiety.
[03:48] Bryn’s lifelong anxiety struggle
Bryn, a one-on-one coaching client and participant in both the Christian Mindset Makeover and the Calm Your Anxiety Toolkit, shares her story in regards to how anxiety has impacted her in every phase of life.
Bryn describes herself as a life-long anxiety sufferer and believes it’s tied to her temperament, stating that she is an Enneagram type 6. As someone who falls into the Enneagram 6 category, Bryn shares that her primary emotion is fear and that she tends to see the world as a dangerous place. As a result, she’s always planning for and anticipating the worst, overthinking every situation so she can feel prepared.
As a child, she used to feel sick to her stomach and tell her mom she was too sick to go to school the next day. She would try different activities and then drop out of them because she was too worried about not being able to do it well enough or was worried about what others would think of her.
As a young adult, she chose to attend a college that was close to home, because going away felt nerve-racking. Everything made her anxious, and for a long time she thought that was how everyone operated, continuously anticipating terrible things and situations.
[09:15] Alicia’s anxiety journey through childhood and her career
Similar to Bryn, Alicia shares that she would also get sick before events in school, usually not feeling well the night before a birthday party or sometimes even in the middle of the party. Growing up on the West Coast, her school would participate in fire drills, and the fire department would come in and talk about fire safety. These drills would leave Alicia stressed for months after, worrying about potential fires in her home.
Alica also shared that her mom had a tendency to be anxious, so Alicia grew up believing that anxiety was a normal part of everyday life. Alicia is a type 3 on the Enneagram, which she describes as a go-getter, high-achieving type of personality. Because of this unique wiring, her anxiety tends to show up with achieving behaviors to cope with the anxiety, such as trying hard to be perfect and to please others.
[10:58] How anxiety showed up for Bryn in her work as a social worker
Even before her work as a social worker, Bryn describes any work environment as anxiety-provoking. She’s been a social worker for 18 years now, and admits that for most of that time her work has made her very anxious.
For Bryn, there was a lot of anxiety around getting everything right, never making a mistake. Whether it was the school system or the parents, she was always worried about someone being angry or upset with the way she was doing something. Even in her direct work with families, she felt as if the outcome was all dependent on her, that she was the one who was responsible for everything and that she couldn’t make one false move because then something horrible was going to happen. These feelings coupled with a lack of confidence in herself and her skills amplified the feelings of anxiety and made her feel like she always had to fix everything, which is not the role of a social worker. In every role she took on, she carried these feelings of anxiety and fear with her.
[14:25] How anxiety affects our emotions and spiritual life
Although Bryn felt called to life as a social worker, her anxiety made it feel very wearing, more like a burden than a calling. Even when people suggested she find other work because of the way she felt, she stayed firm because she felt in her heart that social work was where the Lord had called her to be. The problem was, not only did she not like the work, but the feelings of anxiety had caused real fear inside of her and she had a difficult time turning that feeling off, even after going home. Sunday night would come and she would begin to feel a pit in her stomach at the thought of going back to work. As work is a large part of our lives and takes up a large amount of our energy, most of her daily life she felt consumed with anxiety. Even when she switched jobs within her field, the anxiety followed her wherever she went.
Spiritually, though she felt God had called her into her career, she felt that she had divorced Him from her role because she never invited Him in, she continued to take on all the responsibility and anxiety herself. Until recently, she had never even considered the fact that she could be surrendering her work to the Lord and having Him lead, working in His strength and not her own. Even though she wasn’t aware of it at the time, she feels that these beliefs caused a divide between her and God.
[22:15] How addressing trust issues with God can bring hope for anxiety sufferers
Alicia believes that many Christian women struggle with conscious or unconscious trust with God. She recalls that Bryn shared early on in their coaching that Bryn wondered if God was a “trickster” at certain moments in life when things didn’t work out the way she wanted.
Alicia shared that many women can slowly develop this distrust of God when He doesn’t solve a situation in the way they expected. These are hidden beliefs and messages that we may not be aware that we’re carrying, so we don’t recognize how big of a role those beliefs play in their operating systems. These beliefs can cause us to hold ourselves back from God being able to help us because that trust in His has been broken.
[23:33] Eye-opening moments that were pivotal to Bryn’s anxiety experience
Bryn recalled there were a few ‘aha’ moments in her journey with anxiety that led her to approach it in an entirely different way. In graduate school, her therapist had suggested reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Although this is not a Christian book, there is a part in the book that Bryn describes as “mind-blowing,” which was a segment that read “Your feelings are not truth.” Before reading that line, she had never considered that her feelings of anxiety were not the full truth.
She also participated in a Breaking Free Bible study by Beth Moore which she describes as monumental in her journey. She says this Bible study was a big eye opener for her, shedding light on claiming the freedom that Christ offers, and it was the first time she had experienced God's Word in that way.
Taking part in the Christian Mindset Makeover was another altering experience for her, because previously she had been trying to manage her anxiety with what she felt was a biblical approach by reading books or being in Bible studies. Whatever she tried, she would feel like it just wasn’t resonating. She felt the same way about the cognitive behavioral approaches, and it wasn’t until she experienced a marriage of the two in the Christian Mindset Makeover that it began to make sense.
In the Christian Mindset Makeover she learned that her belief that God was angry at her for being anxious was untrue. She now knows that God has compassion on her with these feelings, He wants to bring healing, and He wants to journey with her. Learning more about the compassionate side of God allowed her to move into an understanding of the fact that God is really on her side.
[30:03] The practical tools that Bryn found to be helpful with her anxiety
Bryn has found that a lot of the tools she found helpful in her anxiety journey came from what she learned inside of the Christian Mindset Makeover, like using the A.D.D. method, Alicia’s three step tool for managing emotions. This method, along with other strategies inside the group, taught her how to proactively address her feelings.
Before the CMM, Bryn says would feel her feelings very, very deeply and feel overpowered by them, not really knowing how to respond to them. With the A.D.D. method, she began to feel a sense of proactiveness, that she didn’t have to wait for the feelings to pass to do something about them.
Bryn says brain priming (another part of the Christian Mindset Makeover) was helpful because it forced her to go deep and uncover beliefs and other things that she wasn’t completely aware of. Brain priming along with the knowledge of the broken soundtracks, how they operate, and how they conflict with logical thinking helped her understand herself better and understand why she reacts to situations the way that she does.
[33:38] How learning mindset life skills can help manage anxiety triggers
Alicia believes that if everyone had a basic understanding about how the mind works and God's partnership in it, it would free a lot of people up to be more compassionate in regard to their responses to situations. She describes herself as a big proponent of things like the A.D.D. method and other mindset-life skills because she believes everyone needs to have these skills, whether they struggle with anxiety or not.
God isn’t going to take all the triggers in the world away, but He does give us the knowledge that He’s here with us to help us manage the feelings they bring with them. Mindset life skills (like those inside the Calm Your Anxiety Tool Kit and the Christian Mindset Makeover) are practical ways that He has given us to help us manage and change our thoughts from the inside out.
Alicia believes that we need more practical methods like A.D.D. and brain priming to find everyday healing from anxiety through the power of God and neuroscience together. She states that although there is a new emphasis in the Church on mental health, there is still room for there to be conversations about things beyond saying “Just remember this scripture and stop thinking about it.”
[39:13] Words of encouragement for those who need hope for healing from anxiety
Bryn shares that there have been times that she has felt worn down and didn’t want to deal with her anxieties anymore, so she states that she understands living with anxiety can be difficult.
Yet she wants people who struggle with anxiety to know that even though it’s difficult, that there is still hope to be had, that while anxiety may not go away, that it will get better, that you can experience relief.
Bryn encourages people to try the Christian Mindset Makeover, and use the tools, brain science, and biblical aspect together. She believes if you stick to it and really apply it to your life, your journey with anxiety can get better.
[43:26] Alicia’s recap and reflection on her conversation with Bryn
During their conversation, Bryn and Alicia discussed how anxiety can greatly influence our relationship with God, and how there can be a division in our relationship with God because of anxiety and how it can feed upon itself. The more anxiety is present, the more distance there seems to be between us and God. Alicia believes that the idea that anxiety is keeping us from going deeper with the Lord is something that isn’t being talked about in the Church.
Alicia recaps a few ways that unresolved thought patterns behind anxiety can affect our beliefs about God, placing them into two categories:
The first category is the belief that there is something wrong with God. Bryn had mentioned the word “trickster,” which highlights the point in our anxiety when we begin to question God's character. This, of course, is what the enemy wants. He knows that God will never walk away from us, but that if there are trust issues that can lead us to believe that God is going to leave us, then the enemy can find a foothold.
The second category is the belief that there is something wrong with us. We’re not trusting God enough. We need to do more. We need to try something else. This is where shame seems to step in and has us believing that everyone else has “figured it out” and that there’s something wrong with us for not getting it “right.” Sometimes to cover that up, we put on this mask that pretends everything is okay, and it keeps us from going deeper with Christ. The reality is that it has nothing to do with us trying harder or not being good enough, it's something else that needs to shift and change.
The bottom line is, we have to address the thoughts behind anxiety. Alicia believes that it's not enough “throw anxiety hacks at you” and tell you to step into a corner and breathe more, to meditate on God’s word. She shares you need practical tools and to create a step-by-step plan that helps you address the root of your anxiety.
[46:40] Next Steps: Transformation, compassion and hope for anxiety triggers
Do you want to understand the thoughts that are going on inside of your head? Do you sometimes feel like you’re never enough? The Christian Mindset Makeover offers a transformation that walks you through a very specific plan to understand all of that and more, including how your view of God has been shaped by these beliefs and how we can begin to change these unconscious soundtracks from a place of compassion for ourselves.
The CMM is a nine-week course that uses tools like brain priming to help the mind re-establish a new way to respond to an anxiety trigger. Instead of reverting to old patterns and beliefs, the brain goes to the new pattern of healing and God-inspired truth. Alicia believes the best way to describe the CMM is that God's word is the medicine and brain science is the delivery vehicle for that medicine, both of which are included inside of the course. You can join the Christian Mindset Makeover by going to https://vibrantchristianliving.com/mindset-makeover/
If you’d like to learn more about the Christian Mindset Makeover, Alicia has created a free training that covers how brain science and the Bible work together, specifically around breaking free from feelings of unworthiness and feeling like we’re never enough. You can access that free training by going to https://vibrantchristianliving.com/never-enough-workshop/
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3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible
Do you struggle with worry and anxiety? You’re not alone—Anxiety is arguably the #1 mental health issue today, even for Christians.
As a former anxiety sufferer (and a NeuroCoach that’s worked with 100s of women) I’ve learned that we need practical mindset TOOLS (based on both brain science and God’s word) to get His calming TRUTH into our thoughts.
That’s why I host my FREE anxiety workshop: 3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible… and you’re invited to join me!