The very first thing to be aware of as we set off on this

journey is that it’s okay not to feel okay. That’s the

launching point. All the months or years that anxiety has

been with you can really take their toll. It may have been a

very long time since you really felt like yourself.

A person who experiences frequent panic attacks or general

anxiety is constantly bombarded with a cocktail of stress

hormones. This bombardment not only makes your nervous

system highly sensitized to stress, but it also leaves you

feeling eerily cut off from the world. Reality may have gone

a bit weird, but that’s okay. Now that you know the anxiety

you feel is simply due to your body’s stress response, you

can begin to feel more and more comfortable about it.

The second thing to be aware of is that you are not a weak

or cowardly person for having an anxiety problem. I have

worked with some of the bravest people you could ever

hope to meet. Police officers, firefighters and military

personnel who could perform incredibly brave feats in the

line of duty and yet who were tormented by anxiety issues

while off duty. I once worked with a Police Chief – a

decorated officer who supervises over 300 police officers –

who couldn’t sit in the barbers for a haircut. He dealt with

highly pressurized situations every working day and felt

very much in control, yet in the barber’s chair he felt out of

control as he had a panic attack there once before. So don't

think of yourself as being weak or less courageous than

others just because you suffer from anxiety. Far from it.

I assure you that the anxiety you feel is not that different

from the anxiety experienced by all the other people who

have successfully used this approach. Over the years I have

come across such a wide range of anxiety issues that

nothing surprises me anymore. Panic disorder, generalized

anxiety disorder, social anxiety, OCD, Pure O: behind all the

different manifestations is the same thing— anxiety.

I don’t like to subcategorize anxiety into individual labels or

even call it a “disorder.” I mentioned those terms above only

so that you’re clear that what I’m talking about is what

you’ve heard. Labels are useful only for defining an

experience a person is going through right at that time in

life. They should not be understood as something that now

makes up a person’s personality or as something they will

have forever.

People tend to overidentify with clinical labels once they

have been given one by their doctor or mental health

professional. Yet an anxiety disorder is simply an experience

that a person moves through, just like a period of grief or

sadness. Would we give a person with a broken heart or

someone suffering from grief a label for life? No, yet people

who go through a period of anxiety sometimes end up

believing that this diagnosis, this label, is now a part of who

they are.