Coyotes, snakes, spiders, death, and bridges, the list goes on and on. You name it, I was afraid of it, but it took me years to realize I actually had anxiety. Before I found recovery, I was almost house-bound due to my anxiety. Today, my recovery tools to help me find peace. My anxiety wasn't this severe, but I could definitely relate...
One of the greatest gifts of my recovery is less anxiety. I still have the uncanny ability to get myself worked up over almost anything, but when my fears and anxiety rage out of control, I have a well-stocked tool kit. Here are some of my favorite fear-fighting weapons.
First Things First - I Use The Steps
Imagine a car cruising down the highway at 70 mph when all of a sudden BAM - something throws the car into reverse! Fear almost always throws me right back to Step One. My fears and anxiety are out of control and there's nothing I can do to calm myself. So once again, I am at Step 1. My life is unmanageable.
Step 2 and Principle 2 help me realize that I matter to God and that He can help restore me to sanity. This means I can see a way out, but to actually take it, I have to take Step 3 and trust my Higher Power to care for me.
I live Life 12 Hours at a time
One of my early sponsors always told me, "Just look at the next 12 hours." This simple principle has brought me many days of peace. Someone I love is dying from alcoholism. For the last several months, every time my phone range, I was sure this was THE phone call I feared most. Focusing on today let me enjoy the last few months. My loved one is still alive, and I haven't ruined those days with fear.
Yes, the day may come when my loved one passes, but worrying about it won't do anything to stop it. I am powerless over my loved one's decisions. If that day comes, I will still have all of my program tools to help me deal.
I Keep My Problems Right-Sized
My over-active imagination and anxiety means I can make any problem gigantic. I once convinced myself that a stranger was hammering through my front porch to seek shelter from a winter storm. Instead, my Halloween sign was banging in the wind, but I was too afraid to even look out my window!
Sharing our problems with our sponsor or someone we trust helps keep our problems in perspective. It's comforting to know others have faced the same fears we have, and it's also good to have someone point out our hysteria.
Bible Verses Also Help
Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, explains that God obviously wanted Christians to "get the message" to stop worrying, as there are 365 mentions of "fear not" in the Bible. These are just a few of my favorites that speak on fear and anxiety:
"So do not fear; for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (aka fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7
"Cast all of your anxiety on Him because HE cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds." - Philippians 4:6-7
Recovery Helps MY Anxiety
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Temple Grandin speak. Ms. Grandin is a world-renowned Autism advocate. She explained that the fear center in her brain was 3 times larger than the average neurotypical brain, and she had the MRIs to prove it. My anxiety and depression are actual physical conditions. I didn't cause them. I can't cure them, and I can't control them.
Recovery is a renewing of the mind. Learning healthier ways to deal with my problems has brought me much serenity, and my anxiety has gradually lessened. I still struggle, but not as much as I used to, and I call that a recovery win!