Notice how the title of this blog refers to Freedom Over Worry, and not Freedom FROM Worry. If you’ve set “freedom from all worry” or freedom from social anxiety as a life goal for yourself, well…good luck with that. Let me know how it goes.
Unless you’re an enlightened guru living in a cave somewhere in Sedona or the Himalayas, I’ve got some bad news: you’ll never be entirely free from worry. You can, however, experience freedom over worry. The good news is that no matter how chronic or severe the anxiety may be, you absolutely can live happily ever after (more or less) on your own terms, in a way that has you cherishing life much more than you fear it.
Zombied-Out on Worry
While it’s normal and healthy for each one of us to experience anxiety and fear, it’s not so healthy to be walking around in a zombied-out mental state of constant dread over the endless possibilities of horrible things that might go wrong. A few years back, I developed a program called Breaking The Worry Trance™ to help people who are stuck in a vicious self-hypnosis that over time has become a longstanding cycle of fear-based living.
When I refer to the “Worry Trance,” I mean that background narrative running pretty much all of the time in your head with the same old, tired and worn-out looped message:
Be Scared. Be Careful. Be Safe. (Repeat 50 times or more per day)
If you’re living in the Worry Trance, you know what it’s like to be making a whole lot of life decisions based on how to be careful and stay safe. You also know what it’s like to be very afraid of things that for others may seem perfectly easy and normal. Things like small-talk, new projects and life directions, or work-place parties—oh, the sheer horror.
There are various forms of Worry Trance, and perhaps the most common pertains to social anxiety.
Social Anxiety is Dreadful…and Probably Inborn
“Wow…my recovery from social anxiety was SO easy.”
-Said Nobody. Ever.
Full disclosure: I have been a social butterfly from the very beginning. I’m just wired that way, with some of my earliest memories having to do with public speaking, theatre performances and introducing all of the kindergarten kids to each other. I have one child who takes after her mother—she was the baby who insisted on facing outward in her Snugli-carrier so that she could wave, smile and coo at everyone.
I have another child who has grown up with social anxiety, so I’ve seen firsthand how debilitating it can be. This was the baby who needed to face inward and away from social stimuli (unlike her sister) when she was carried around as an infant. She would cry inconsolably when passerby tried to interact with her. As an adult today, this daughter would gladly sign up for an anaesthetic-free root canal, if it meant getting out of a networking party or group event.
There’s ample evidence that genetics do play a role in the development of social anxiety. Environmental factors and early family influences can also impact on symptom severity and the likelihood of a predisposition becoming a life-time of struggle.
This does not mean that every socially anxious person is going to end up living in the Worry Trance, but it is one of the most common reasons for people seeking formal mental health services.
If you find yourself, for whatever reason, stuck in this trance of worry and social anxiety, I promise that there’s a way to break free of it. By that, I don’t mean to suggest you’ll never feel anxious. But, you can recover yourself to the point of freedom over worry. You can create a new frame of reference for living, so that you’re no longer in panic or obsession mode whenever faced with stress. This new frame of reference will have you surprising yourself with just how enjoyable life can be. And yes, you can even learn how to build an experience of calm, inner peace—you know the thing everyone’s been talking about lately that seems to come so naturally to others?
It doesn’t matter how innate or severe your social anxiety may be, it just means that you have to work a little harder to get there. Okay, a lot harder.
But, still….you can do this. It all begins with one solitary commitment.
The First Commitment: Choose Freedom
In the video below (an excerpt from Breaking The Worry Trance™), I explain the importance of making a strong till-death-do-you-part type of commitment to yourself: the sincere dedication to choose freedom over comfort. This is the cornerstone commitment upon which your entire recovery depends.
You can participate in self-help directives and evidence-based therapies until the cows come home. You can take any kind of prescribed anti-anxiety medication, do every meditation known to humankind, smoke as much medical marijuana as you please and practice yoga all the way to Bali and back. But guess what? None of it will get you anywhere in the long run, as long as you’re still trying to fix or get rid of something in the name of staying safe and comfortable. Once you pledge your fierce devotion to freedom first and then live by that commitment, life will become much easier.
But first, life gets a little bit harder. I’ll be honest: this commitment (and the decision to live by it, with your actions) means that you’ll be doing the hard work of re-wiring neural circuitry that has been many years in the making. Breaking habits is gruelling and breaking mental habits can be excruciating.
You CAN break this trance of worry, and find freedom over worry. You CAN heal, no matter how hopeless or helpless things may seem, and no matter how many techniques you’ve tried. Life can be different. Beginning now.
First, make the commitment.
Use this video to help you solidify that commitment for yourself or teach it to others.
Next, you’ll need help with action steps. You can find a Daybreak therapist who is trained in Breaking The Worry Trance™, or you might prefer to locate a nearby counselling or coaching professional skilled in working with social anxiety. There are also many great self-help resources out there, with one of my favourite being the Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook.
Want to Dive Deeper?
If you’ve not yet taken Daybreak’s Breaking The Worry Trance™ course, you’ll find more information there about our philosophy on steps toward a new healing path.
Are You A Helping Professional?
If you’re a helping professional, you might want to consider beginner or advanced training in Clinical Counselling Hypnotherapy, since this specialized curriculum offers:
- Using Clinical Counselling Hypnotherapy for Social Anxiety, Panic, Obsessions and Phobias
- Trance-based coaching strategies and Workbook for clients on Breaking The Worry Trance
- Step-by-step protocols for an integrative healing approach entitled Miracle-Think
- In-depth therapist training on a trauma-informed approach to working with the unconscious