What causes fear and anxiety?
In most cases, fear and anxiety are caused by a belief or set of beliefs. For example, if you’re in an airplane and the engines go out, fear is an understandable response. It’s based on the belief, “This plane might crash; I might die.”
Usually the beliefs that cause fear are faulty. For example, stepping into an elevator will make some people feel anxiety or even panic. Why? Because there is an underlying belief: “I’m permanently trapped; I’m going to die.” Are those beliefs based on reality? No. The person holding those faulty beliefs probably knows they are not true. But they feel true.
I call these beliefs that feel true “gut-level beliefs.”
How do you correct faulty gut-level beliefs?
All of us have faulty gut-level beliefs. And those beliefs came from somewhere. That somewhere is our life experiences. At some point in our lives, mostly in our childhood, we learn false lessons like: I’m worthless. I’m not worth protecting. It’s all my fault. There’s no hope. I’m not safe. And so on.
Experiences with Jesus can correct our faulty beliefs at a gut level.
Here’s the technique we’ve found to be effective: We focus on the feeling in order to identify the gut-level beliefs behind that feeling and the events that created those gut-level beliefs. Then we invite Jesus to offer whatever He has for us in that vulnerable place.
The result? Time after time, we’ve seen panic disappear, fear subside, anxiety lessen. It may take several encounters with Jesus, but it really does work.
Sometimes you can do this on your own. More often you need help. Here in Madison, Steve Freitag of CrossCounsel.com or Kim Clough are trained to help, as are some Christian counselors. I teach the system behind this in my course, Spiritual Self Defense.