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You are now on the road to recovery

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Recovery from anxiety is a process. Full recovery is a long ongoing process. Any worthwhile journey is a series of many small steps. There may be some steps that are bigger than others and there may be times of standing still just taking in the new surroundings. On any path there may be places where you stumble, fall down, and have to get up and brush yourself off again in order to continue.

The road to recovery from anxiety is no different. There will be little day by day steps, great leaps, and some setbacks you can be sure. The great leaps may be the discovery of some freeing Truth concept that removes a blind spot from your mind. The setbacks may be the reoccurrence of old fear triggers.

(Note here that even setbacks are a cause for rejoice. How can that be you ask? Because in order to be “set-back” you must have first made some forward progress. Don’t become too discouraged with setbacks. They will happen from time to time. Simply use them as a learning tool with which to gain greater knowledge and insight to you own unique situation.)

Maybe the most important steps that you take along your journey to recovery will be the little steps. The daily steps that you take even when you seem to be going nowhere. Before I elaborate on this let me first give you a brief outline for the five steps of recovery.

1. Denial

2. Hurt and Anger

3. Confusion

4. Acceptance

5. Forgiveness

Denial is the first step. It is when you still deny that anything is wrong with you or it can be your denying that something wrong happened to you in your past. In present terms it can be the woman who is black and blue with bruises from her husband’s beatings but refuses to acknowledge that he has done anything wrong to her.

Being blind to yourself or your situation is another way to think about denial. It can also include the avoidance of painful topics. In essence one can be saying to themselves as they stand their hands covering their eyes “I don’t see it so it isn’t there”.

Denial is quite common for the people in a dysfunctional family system. If, as a child, you grew up with an alcoholic father and a prostitute mother where there were always strange people and violence in your home - that is what you would think of as “normal”. Anything else would be abnormal.

Imagine being born into a non-stop hurricane. Every minute of every day of your life was spent trying to survive the tremendously treacherous winds. Then one day someone carries you away to a land where the wind doesn’t blow. It is calm all of the time. This - to you - would seem very strange. Abnormal. At first, knowing only how to respond to hurricanes, you would not know how to act. And if someone told you that living in a hurricane was not a natural way to live you would think that they were crazy. Even when they first showed you around this "calmville" and told you that "hurricaneland" was unnatural you wouldn’t believe them. You would deny that something was wrong or abnormal about what you viewed as being normal.

After one breaks through the barriers of denial there comes a combination of confusion and anger. At first usually comes the hurt and anger. When you finally discover the truth about what has been done wrong to you (possibly an abusive childhood) you are bound to be hurt and upset. A flood of emotions can come rushing at you as you try to cope with this new found reality.

You may be hurt for the loss of a “normal” childhood and be very angry at the ones who took it from you. After working through those feelings and emotions you may be left in a state of confusion. This is natural because the foundation upon which you have built your life - weather dysfunctional or not - has just crumbled leaving you feeling as if you are drifting in a great abyss. You now need to build a new foundation. This time however, you will build your new foundation on Truth instead of lies.

At this point you will began to accept what has happened to you. You will have worked through the hurt the pain and will have began to build a new Truth based foundation for yourself. You can now stand on solid ground and say “yes, this happened to me but I’m OK” . You won’t be so attached to old emotions that you start falling apart at the thought of old abuses.

The final and possibly most difficult step in full recovery is the step of forgiveness. I’m not talking about cheap forgiveness where you halfheartedly say to someone “you’re forgiven” and that's that. I’m talking about real forgiveness where you truly come to a place in your heart where you fully and completely forgive someone.

Forgiveness? “Impossible” you say. But it is possible! I will go into this in depth in the section on this site entitled Forgiveness, a Christian perspective.”

These, above, are the five steps of recovery that we will all experience in one way or another on our path to freedom.


I have often asked myself why did I have a full and complete recovery from panic disorder while some do not. There are probably many multi-leveled answers to that complicated question but in my experience with people who successfully recover there seems to be one common theme. Daily Practice.

People who practice their various therapies, who write in the journals and practice cognitive awareness on a daily basis seem to recover more completely. I’m sure that there are many reasons for this recovery but the one that jumps out at me is the reason called “internalization”

Internalization is when you do something long enough for it to become a natural part of you. A natural response if you will. It takes about a year to internalize some new thing. That is one year of practicing on a daily basis whatever it is that you are trying to internalize.(It takes three to six months to form a new habit but about twelve months to begin to internalize it.)

Most of us who start the recovery process experience great positive change in just a short amount of time but in order to assure that those changes stick - you/we need to practice. At the risk of sounding like some kind of a over-zealous, sport-happy coach I will say that you need to daily practice on your bad days, your good days, your in between days - in fact, you need to practice every day. Practice, practice, practice.

It won’t be too difficult to practice when you are feeling bad. You will be motivated to do your exercises because you want to feel better. The hard part will come on those days when you are feeling great and you see no immediate need to exercise in this way. It is all too easy to just let the day slip away after all - everything feels fine.

Try to think of doing your exercises in this way: If you are physically healthy one of the things that you do on a daily is to eat your vegetables and drink plenty of water. This is so that you won’t get sick and have to go and see the Doctor. It is the same with your psychological health. You drink your metaphorical water and eat you figurative veggies to stay healthy.

In a word you “practice.” If you are able to do these exercises for 365 days you will have lasting change. I cannot give you a quick cure-all. I wish I could. True and lasting change isn’t easy. I won’t lie to you. It is hard work but you can do it.

I liken it to the “lose weight quick” fad-diets of our culture. You may lose fifty pounds in three months but you will most likely gain it back quite quickly. The most sure fire weight-loss program is, indeed, the hard one. The “365-days-a-year-change-your-life-for-good” program. I don’t think I would sell a lot of videos or diet books if I said “It only takes about a year of hard work day in and day out to lose those pounds” But I would be telling the truth.

True change, lasting change isn’t easy. You have to take it one day at a time. Sometimes you have to take it one moment at a time. The steps can be small. But they do add up. They add up to success. A successful journey on the road to recovery.