You may have experienced it yourself or can become aware of it just looking around. There’s a rising feeling of anxiety in our culture today and people are searching for answers from mental health professionals to spiritual gurus. Today I want to bring you someone who has some insight into what’s going on and what might help us in the more difficult times. Friedemann Schaub, MD, PhD, is a physician specializing in cardiology and molecular biologist who has helped thousands of people with his Personal Breakthrough and Empowerment program that combines his medical expertise with NLP, Time Line Therapy™, clinical hypnotherapy, and more. He is author of the recent release The Fear and Anxiety Solution and lives in Seattle, Washington.
Today, Friedeman talks to us about what fear and anxiety are, how we create it, what role our subconscious minds play, how do we overcome self-sabotaging behaviors and what the limitation are of anti-anxiety medications.
Elisha: Why are fear and anxiety so pervasive in our society – and of what are we so afraid?
Friedemann: Generally speaking, our modern society has little room and patience for feelings. Reason and logic are far more accepted and valued than sensitivity and emotions. The problem is that we usually interpret negative emotions such as fear and anxiety, as flaws and weaknesses that need to be overcome, managed, or suppressed, rather than trying to understand their deeper meaning. Consequently “negative” emotions don’t get adequately addressed; instead, they accumulate in our subconscious and eventually cause greater emotional and physical challenges. In other words, the real problem is that we don’t know how to listen or relate to our emotions, let alone consciously guide and work with it – which is a major reason why, around 17 percent of the world’s population has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
What are we afraid of today? Besides the fear of losing health, face, relationships, and love, other common modern fears are losing a job, money, security – and a viable environment. At first glance, these fears could be summarized as “the fear of losing something of value.” However, underneath the fear of losing something that’s important to us often lingers a greater fear:”the fear of losing control and being powerless.” This deep-seated fear can lead to a vicious cycle, causing us to believe that hypervigilance, micromanaging, and even obsessive behaviors are the only way to maintain some sense of power and control when, in actuality, it is fear and anxiety that control our lives.
Elisha: How do we create fear and anxiety? What are the roles of the subconscious mind and cellular memory?
Friedemann: However, although anxiety can appear as an uncontrollable energy that exists within us, it is simply a feeling that we create. Understanding some important facts about fear and anxiety is the first step to demystify this emotion and regain control—the more we know about something, the more we can find ways to deal with it.
Every second of our lives, we’re surrounded by an incomprehensible amount of information. But how do we distinguish the tiny fraction of information that is relevant from all the remaining input that needs to be ignored? This is where our subconscious mind comes in and employs specific filters to separate what it perceives to be important for us.
Subconscious filters delete, distort, and generalize information that passes through them and leave us with a condensed and altered version of all that surrounds us—an internal interpretation of reality. In other words, how we see ourselves and the world around us depends on the fabric of our subconscious filters. Our fear filters dictate how we interpret the danger or safety of your reality. They consist of emotional baggage of the past, unresolved inner conflicts, and limiting core beliefs, and are ultimately the subconscious root causes of anxiety. The more pervasive these subconscious fear filters are, the more they alter our internal perception of ourselves and the world we live in, which makes us more susceptible to experiencing fear and anxiety. Giving a talk becomes the equivalent of facing the firing squad. A plane ride feels like a one-way trip in an aluminum coffin. And a difficult conversation with a friend or family member reinforces our fear of ending up alone and abandoned.
So it makes sense that to break through these emotions and their ensuing behavioral patterns, we need to consciously remove and replace these filters, which is what The Fear and Anxiety Solution is all about.
Elisha: How can we resolve these inner conflicts and overcome self-sabotaging behaviors?
Friedemann: Inner conflicts are one of the three fundamental root causes of fear and anxiety (the others being stored emotions and self-limiting beliefs). Most often, it appears that the battle is fought between a “negative” part in our subconscious, which brings up anxiety, worry, insecurity, and shame, and an opposing “positive” side, which makes us feel more confident, motivated, and optimistic. While the agenda of the positive subconscious part seems to be about promoting growth, success, and happiness, the negative is usually perceived as the inner obstacle, the weakling, the critic, or saboteur—that which holds us back from living up to our potential. Through the Parts Reintegration Process, which is described in my book, you’ll be able to clearly identify, which part of your subconscious mind is fighting another and then work through specifics steps, which allow these two parts to reconcile, appreciate their mutual purpose, and to collaborate with you and each other. This will leave you with a much greater sense of wholeness and clarity.
Elisha: What are the limitations of anti-anxiety medications?
Friedemann: Medical research has focused largely on a physiological solution to emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. The good news is that this form of altering the brain’s physiology and chemistry can indeed successfully dampen fear and anxiety and make these emotions more manageable. However, this “improvement” often comes with a price. One of the challenges with anti-anxiety medications, besides their common side effects, such as drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and lower sex drive, is that they potentially lead to physical addiction, and you must wean yourself carefully when you want to stop taking them.
Many of the clients I have worked with complained that their medication didn’t only reduce their anxiety, but also dulled or even turned off their emotions in general. It appeared to them as if their mind had been wrapped in cotton or a lid had been placed on their ability to feel anything. But what still hadn’t vanished were their deep-seated insecurities and the limiting core beliefs they had struggled with for a long time. Beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “The world is not a safe place” still remained a part of their mind-set, even though they didn’t have the same emotional impact. As a client put it, “I basically still have the same issues, but because I don’t feel them as intensely. They seem to be further out of reach. It’s a relief, true, but not really a resolution.
I like to look at anti-anxiety drugs as a form of emotional painkiller. The purpose of pain medication is not to mend the fracture or close the wound that causes the pain, but to make the time it takes to heal more tolerable. It would be denial or plain ignorance if you would drown out the pain without tending to its root causes. If fear and anxiety are like physical pain, then their natural purpose must be to call your attention to the deeper emotional and mental wounds they are caused by. What if tending to these inner wounds—whether they are unresolved traumas, self-sabotaging patterns, or limiting beliefs—could lead to greater peace, wholeness, and self-empowerment? Would it still be enough for you to just fix and get rid of fear and anxiety? Or would you want to take advantage of their true meaning, heal yourself from the inside out, and gain access to your true potential? This is what I call the healing power of fear and anxiety. As you’re moving step by step through The Fear and Anxiety Solution, bridging the conscious with the subconscious and higher consciousness, you will learn how to address fear and anxiety and take advantage of their healing power.
Elisha: Thank you so much Friedemann for your wisdom.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com