What is anxiety anyway? As a psychotherapist and transformational coach, I see and treat symptoms of it every day.
Anxiety sucks. Right out loud. The end. That’s my clinical assessment.
At best, for some, it takes the form of a low-level undercurrent of worry; at worst, for others, it means debilitating, paralyzing panic, accompanied by very real feelings of reliving traumatic memories in the form of flashbacks. In between are catastrophic thinking – when the mind continually goes to “what if…?” worst-case scenarios; or hypervigilance – which is a state of constantly being jacked up and on red alert; and then there is your average, everyday, garden variety, free-floating over-concern with what others might think, say or do. A common theme, and my own personal demon was (and still sometimes is) that everyone would find out that I’m a loser and a fraud – and how I would be judged, criticized, made wrong, be shamed, and ultimately punished and probably banished to some frozen planet for my inadequacy.
Is any of this sounding familiar?
Regarding anxiety, A Course in Miracles says,
“When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego.“
The definition of “capricious” is impulsive and unpredictable, and our ego minds – sometimes identified as the “monkey mind” because it jumps from thought to thought the way monkeys swing from tree to tree – throwing poo in the process – are like that. Like inner mean girls that block our way out of the bathroom of our minds while telling us we’re losers, or bullies like the yellow-toothed kid in “A Christmas Story” who keeps popping up unexpectedly to scare the crap out of us. We continually second-guess ourselves, and sometimes those who hang out with us.
“Are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong? Am I going to get fired? Was it my fault? Did I say something stupid? Do I look fat? Are you mad at me?”
But why do these intrusive thoughts persist?
At the heart of all anxiety is guilt, and the accompanying shame about whatever we believe we are guilty of. The guilt does not have to be conscious, and often is not. There does not have to be awareness of what one feels guilt about – sometimes the hidden aspect of it is what allows it to keep having power over us.
But why are we all so guilty, and thus, so anxious?
Well, the awesome news is that it’s not because we deserve to be because we’re a bunch of sinners. However, that is actually our underlying belief, stemming from a much greater and more damaging attachment to the idea that we chose to commit the unpardonable act of separating from God.
And not just separating, because that can sound a little fuzzier, kinder and gentler than it feels in our unconscious. Our belief is really that we have REJECTED God, and told Him to f*ck off, and that He is now terribly, unimaginably angry with us and out to get us, to punish us and make us sorry – by abandoning us to, you know, burn in hell for all eternity or something.
When sh*t is getting really real in our lives, even if we are not religious people, we will find ourselves asking,
“Wtf did I ever do to deserve this?”
I have often heard people say that they feel like they are being punished when bad or painful things happen in their lives, and I have definitely felt like that myself. But we aren’t going to feel like that unless somewhere, somehow, on some deep level, we believe that we are guilty and deserving of punishment. If we felt completely innocent, totally loved, secure, safe, like we could never do anything that would cause us to lose our lovability – aka the love of God – we would not even be capable of that feeling.
But we do feel guilty, and that is at the root of all of our anxiety.
It looks like its caused by other stuff, because in this dream world, we have to project our unconscious guilt onto everyone and everything else in order to avoid either facing it down and calling it what it is, or having it take us down the abyss into the pit of despair.
We have so much unconscious guilt about believing that we separated from God and rejected Him, that it has resulted in us literally running screaming into the dark and buying into the ego mind’s seemingly “safer” framework of a world separate from God. In order for us to continue to stave off the fear of what we mistakenly think will be God’s wrathful vengeance, we have to keep punishing ourselves – setting up scenario after scenario, lifetime after lifetime.
Sheesh, no wonder we’re all an anxious wreck! How could we not be?
And it’s so self-perpetuating, because we make up these self-sabotaging situations so that our unconscious guilt will play out in punishment, and then we live in fear that something else is going to happen, because… ummm, well… it is. That’s the name of the ego’s game, and it is the way the power of thought works.
It’s the biggest self-fake-out ever in the history of the world. Our mind is such a powerful creative force that as we layer fear thought upon fear thought, the magnetic, attracting vibrational frequency of our thoughts in the world of form literally draws the manifestation of our fear thoughts into our energy field and they play out as our experience. We are literally doing it to ourselves.
Fortunately, the coolest thing about all of this is that it is completely unnecessary, and we are not doomed to continue this way of existing in the world. It’s a trick of the ego mind, and that is all it is.We can do something different. We can heal our anxiety as A Course in Miracles teaches us, by choosing once again.
Our experience follows our thought, our belief, and so as we alter our thoughts by choosing to think with Spirit instead of the ego, we change our beliefs, and shift our perception, and BOOM! our experience is different.
But this requires our conscious participation, our awareness, our energy and effort in transforming our beliefs, thought by thought. It requires vigilance, because the path of least resistance is our conditioned thinking pattern of projecting our guilt by blaming other people or situations for our experience in the world.
If we want to heal our anxiety, it is going to take our willingness to embrace a new story, instead of continuing to write sequel after sequel of the old, tired-ass one.
So… what’s the story?
Ahem, Chapter One: FORGIVENESS. Of whatever is disturbing our peace in any way. We are provided with the MIRACLE – with its unique form of forgiveness – we are given the means to shift our perception from fear to love. This transforms the way in which we look at everyone, most especially ourselves.
In doing so, we are taught how to see with corrected vision, to look past whatever fear is showing us to the love beyond it.
The forgiveness process is:
- Recognizing there is nothing to forgive, because the ego mind is making the situation up.
- Forgiving ourselves for believing it.
- Releasing it to Spirit, asking to see it differently and be healed.
The rest of the story that follows from our continued practice of forgiveness is the ability to begin believing what Jesus in A Course in Miracles says about us, when He assures us that we are PERFECT. Not that we have to try to be perfect, or that perfection is something to be attained, or is outside of us. It is who we are, and have always been.
He tells us that we are BELOVED beyond measure – that we are not only loved like crazy by God, but we are actually made of LOVE. We can’t be anything except perfect love. Anything else that we believe we are is a lie being told to us by our false self, the ego mind.We are not only loved like crazy by God, but we are actually made of LOVE. We can’t be anything except perfect love. Anything else that we believe we are is a lie being told to us by our false self, the ego mind. Click To Tweet
We are taught that we are NEVER ALONE, that we are constantly watched over, and lovingly guided, by Spirit.
We are reassured that we are NOT GUILTY, we have done nothing wrong, we are innocent. We have made a mistake in our perception, and in whom we have chosen as our inner teacher, but that we can always choose again.
The Course encourages us to SURRENDER all of our problems, issues, grievances, and any perceived difficulty to Spirit to be TRANSFORMED BY LOVE.
We are reminded that WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. That the Truth in us, “is as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself.”
We are shown a new way of perceiving the world: that we give everything all the meaning that it has for us, that we can choose to see things differently, that our holiness blesses the world, that as we forgive our brothers we release ourselves, that there is no order of difficulty in miracles, that the holiest place on Earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love, and that we are still as God created us.
That, my darling bros, is the Truth, and the end of anxiety.
The alpha and the Omega. It is, as the Course tells us, where “nothing real can be threatened” (meaning love) and where “nothing unreal exists” (meaning fear). “Herein lies the peace of God.” Right here. Right now.
I know sometimes it can be helpful to hear an actual story of healing, and so toward that end, I have recorded a podcast in which I tell the story of healing my own anxiety with A Course in Miracles, Please click on the link to download it if you’d like to hear it.
Click here to download the podcast.
Thank you so much for joining me today in our discussion on helping ourselves to choose love instead of fear, and thus heal anxiety through the miracle of forgiveness.
I’d love to hear from you…
Let me know (in the comments below) if this post/podcast was helpful to you. I love to hear from you.
You are the most awesome bros ever in the history of the world. I love you.
Rev Kelly Russell
Transformational Coach & Psychotherapist
You know what my ego was screaming in my ear the whole time I read your post? “Yes this is true but you are incapable of doing this!” So clever is my ego, that I believe I am not read to be healed. WTF. I will now listen to the podcast and possibly over and over again. This come to me at a very fearful time. Thank you.
Hi Julianne! Guess what? Your ego is actually straight up threatened because you are TOTALLY capable of doing this, and that is why it is screaming in your ear. But you might be right that you are not ready. I get it. Whenever you are, Spirit will be there. Love yourself for where you are, and thank you so much for reading. ❤️
Kelly – I love anything that comes from you ! You are so down to earth and so direct…so to the point, so clear. Love you like crazy and thank you, thank you, thank you. Light and love, joani
Thank you Joani! ❤️
I Really enjoy the course of Miracles and that it’s mostly about forgiveness. I forgive you for writing it vertically as apposed to the “normal”way.therefore I didn’t finish what you were writing because it annoyed me such. Yes I do understand irony of all this. I hope in the future you will not use this form of writing so I can read all of the message.
Hi Fred! Thanks so much for reading whatever part you read, and for practicing forgiveness around your annoyance! I will pass your comment on to the people who manage the site and how the blogs appear on it, as I don’t have anything to do with that aspect. 😊
Kelly–I love this blog. My whole entire life I have been feeling like I was being punished for something really really bad and I could never figure out what I could have possibly done to begin experiencing trauma and abuse at such a young age! Your explanation resonates deeply within me but my ego screams “watch out”, its a trick.
Thanks for your straightforward way of explaining a somewhat complex and convoluted new thought system/idea to me.
Hi Lisa! So happy it was helpful!
Thank you for being so open and real! I appreciate your sharing and guidance.
What a wonderful post, Kelly, and a great summary of the Course’s teachings. I will be reading it many times, leaving it flagged in my inbox as a reminder to keep reading over and over (gotta’ rewire those neural pathways!)
Hi Isdadora! Yes, since the body is in the mind in the first place, as we change our minds we change our brains. Thanks for writing!
Thanks, Kelly – this was very helpful to me. I needed to read this today, that our powerful creative minds make up our self-sabotaging situations, but that conversely we can choose again, choosing Spirit to transform the way we think and our belief system. The way you said it here was how I needed to hear it and know it to be true. Thank you!
Hi Deb, I’m so glad it was helpful.
Thank you so much Kelly. I started Lisa’s 40 day program about 6 yrs. ago and had such a profound change that even my therapist commented on it. The last few years I got a little side tracked and now am at a point in my life where my anxiety is controlling me along with a lot of health issues. Listening to you today reminded me of what I had forgotton. Thank you so much!
Hi Trish! Thank you for reminding us that the ego hangs around, always waiting for an opportunity to hijack our peace. Good for you for seeing that!
A great reminder – to persevere. Keep doing the work and miracles will manifest
Kelly – Thank you! Thank you! So clear and inspiring. I am going to try and see if I can print this and put it on my bedside table to read, read, read and practice, practice, practice. <3
Wow. That was beautiful.
“that the holiest place on Earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love, and that we are still as God created us.” do you think this means humanity has for thousands of years seen themselves as seperate from Divine love, and becoming aware of our separation, and choosing to focus on the light that we are-is the MIRACLE?
When I read that anxiety is caused by guilt, I blew it off because I didn’t see the connection. I thought, oh, this is just a way to skip logic and connect anxiety to the Course. That’s how MY ego works- constantly thinking there is no “cure” for what I’m going through. But I kept reading and saw how succinctly the connection between anxiety and guilt was made. I feel guilty for EVERYTHING. What I ate, what I said/didn’t say, a mistake I made at my job, not liking my job, not making enough money, not paying bills on time- I live in constant anxiety, and can see how I actually see myself as being punished for my bad decisions and acts. It’s a relief to know there really is a “cure.”
Please reach out to me. I am experiencing so much anxiety. I am reading ACIM since 2011. This time in my life is very difficult to manage. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fantastic. Thank you for sharing. I used to be a train wreck. Doing awesome now. Looking forward to futher growth.
Yay Shelley! I love when we can allow Spirit to pull us out of the trainwreck our thoughts make of our experience!! ❤️
Just found this.
We are all Perfect Love. Yes!
Thank you for your light.
Love Kim (Denmark).
Kelly I felt you were talking to me. I am on the ACIM path and healing. Your podcast was so helpful. I loved the end to remember who walks with me. Thank you beyond words.
Thank you, Kelly. I have lived with anxiety in various forms (OCD, eating disorders, generalised anxiety) for many years and life has been touch. I began ACIM this year and it is…wow! Of course, the ego (seems to) resist it and so I’m going through the Course slowly but it is powerful and really shows the ego for what it is: a storyteller that keeps us in a loop of perpetual suffering in order to maintain the sense of separation and keep us distracted from our true place, with God. More and more, I am recognising its strategies. Your words rang true and I can’t wait to listen to your podcast.