Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Understanding fear

As an anxiety sufferer, fear is something I have become very familiar with over the years as it has dominated most of my life. Throughout my Christian walk, large portions of my time have gone into studying the complexities of human emotions using myself as the primary example - fear being one of the main ones. I wish to share this post with you all in the hope of bringing some enlightenment into your lives on this topic.

1. Fear comes from within.

It is so easy to sit and blame fear on things around us when for the most part, fear actually comes from within ourselves. Granted, there are times when this logic does not apply - i.e. if you are walking on the edge of a cliff and a wind is blowing against you, feeling some fear that you may be blown off is quite natural and understandable. But there are also many, many times when the fear we are facing is far less about our external circumstances and more about ourselves and wrong thinking we carry within our hearts.

I used to be afraid of everything, and everyone. Afraid of people, afraid of speaking, afraid of confrontation, afraid of car accidents, you name it, chances are, I was afraid of it. I have been walking the Christian faith for the last 12 years. This journey has taken me within - to look inside myself to find the root of these fears. I had so much fear in my life that living a life where I never had to face anything I was afraid of was completely impossible. Yet now I am walking with a freedom greater than any I have ever known. I am not completely free yet by any means but I am more free than I have ever been in my life. Things that used to terrify me to the point where I was nothing but a shaking mess - I can laugh at them now. Why? Because I had to realize that the source of fear had nothing to do with other people. It had nothing to do with speaking, confrontation, car accidents or anything like that. The source of the fear was me.

I could try and never drive a car again in order to avoid my fear of accidents - but this was nearly impossible, not to mention highly impractical and would have been very frustrating for those who continually had to drive me places! The main reason why just avoiding driving was wrong, however, was because it wasn't dealing with the root of the problem. It was just cutting the leaves off of the weed. This fear needed to be faced at its source - the weed of fear needed to be pulled out by its roots. In order to do that, I needed to learn to look within myself and find the true answers there.

2. Fear is so much more complex than we realize.

It annoys me when people are just told to "get over their fears" because so often, it's just not that simple. In my younger years as a Christian I was given a lot of advice by well-meaning people who wanted to help that didn't actually help me to get through my fears at all. People would tell me things like "You've just got to listen to more Christian music", "You just need to pray in tongues more" and "You've just got to feel the fear and do it anyway". The first two didn't help me at all, sorry to say. The last one did indeed have some merit as there were times when I did need to "feel the fear and do it anyway" yet overall this wasn't really a permanent solution as each day I would just face the same exhausting exercise of doing something while my whole body was shaking with fear.

As I began to learn about the spiritual forces that had been passed down to me through the generational lines I began to see that my fear was so much more complicated than I could ever have imagined. There were layers and layers of wrong thinking in my life - subconscious belief systems I carried within my own heart and operated out of without realizing. I began to heal myself properly when I began to face these fears and walk through them in full with the guidance and continued revelation of the Holy Spirit who gave me words of knowledge to help me understand what was happening within myself and gave me the right words to confess which helped bring these fears to the light, which caused them to lose their power and hold over me. This was the journey I needed to walk through to truly begin to eradicate fear from my life. Just "getting over it" simply would never have worked and would just have resulted in a lifetime of frustration.

3. God takes us on a path to help us face our fears.

God wants us to be whole, healed and fearless in Him. In the Bible it says "Do not fear" 365 times - one for each day of the year. My journey with God has involved walking through the darkest, most painful and most fear-contaminated parts of my life. He has lead me into situations that have truly frightened me beyond what I realized. Why? To torment me? Not at all - because this was where I needed to walk to bring the horrible fears to the surface that had been lurking in my subconscious mind for so long and polluting my life from the inside out with a constant sense of dread, uncertainty and anxiety. God lead me through these places not to hurt me - but to help me to heal once and for all.

I am currently in a time of rest. Being an anxiety sufferer, rest is not something I am familiar with or even remotely comfortable with. I am facing deeply uncertain circumstances in my life at this point. I am getting married in just a few weeks, with nowhere to live lined up as of yet, no job and no money to pay for anything. Yet I am not afraid. God told me this morning that this is a time of rest for me, and to not be afraid because He holds my future. Was this hard to hear? It was - until I finally realized why I found it so hard. I realized that I have associated rest with unimaginable fear and torment. I realized that I have been carrying a subconscious belief system that tells me that the most fearful and terrifying place to be in in life is a place where you feel as if you have nothing to fear whatsoever and are therefore oblivious due to blissful ignorance.

The subconscious message in my heart has told me this; "In the place where you fear nothing, that is the place to be most afraid because you are unprepared for anything and able to be taken completely by surprise. The most terrifying thing you could ever go through would be to believe that all was well and suddenly realize all too late that things were not well at all, and that you should have realized this earlier, but you didn't and therefore didn't prepare to prevent this. You weren't prepared for something bad to happen, so when it happened it was all your fault because you should have known better and should have done something to stop it. The only way you can stop horrible surprise attacks coming at you that you don't expect is to be expectant all the time - to be constantly on your guard and prepared for the worst."

This subconscious message has been buried in my thinking for as long as I can remember and has pretty much defined my entire life and caused a deep sense of restlessness as well as a constant sense of doubt and mistrust of pretty much everyone and everything connected to me throughout my life. God realized that I needed to face this so He has put me in a position where I've got no choice but to rest even when I probably should be stressing out. He's done this because I needed to face this deep, dark and insidious wrong thinking. The path He set me on was the path I needed to walk down because it was the only way I could face this fear and thus finally begin to heal of it.

In conclusion, I hope this has shed some light for someone. If fear grips your heart, as it did mine - there is a way out of it. Jesus loves you and He wants to help you. He wants to help you rid your life of fear so that you can live with the quality of life you've always wanted. He can (and probably will) lead you into hard places - but remember that He has got you in the palm of His hands, and that the places He will lead you are the places that you need to go in order to remove fear, doubt and insecurity from your life. It will be painful, as facing your fears can hurt. But it's productive pain, and on the other side of it is a life that can be truly enjoyed.

Take care.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Depression: A view from the inside out

Today, I have the great pleasure of being the host on the final day of the Virtual Blog Tour for Richard David Price, author of the brand new book Beating the Adversary: A True Story of Schizoaffective Disorder, officially released on 1st December, 2014.  On its debut, it became Amazon’s #1 best-selling new release in ‘schizophrenia’.

RICHARD DAVID PRICE was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager, as a result of a childhood accident.
Despite his difficult adolescence, he went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Business and has two children to whom he is devoted.
He is a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and feels his mission in life is to help spread hope that we all can overcome our personal challenges.
Yesterday, Richard visited Pippa Moye's 'Silver Ray Healing Therapies' blog at http://www.silver-ray.co.uk, where they talked about how Rick's spiritual beliefs have helped him.
Today, I'd like to share with you a recent interview I had with Richard, when I asked him to share his thoughts on depression and medication.
GRAHAM: How do you best define Schizoaffective Disorder?
RICHARD: A schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, etc.) and serious mood disorder symptoms (clinical depression or bipolar mood swings).  It affects every aspect of the patient's ability to function in social situations – with friends, in the home, at school, and at work – leading to a life of differing degrees of isolation.  It is not as defined as other mental health issues and symptoms differ from patient to patient. 
GRAHAM: Have you had experiences with depression? If so, what was it like and how did you cope?
RICHARD: Schizoaffective Disorder is depression on steroids, so yes, I understand what depression is like and I feel very deeply for those who suffer from it.  It’s a little like an easy 50-piece-puzzle that may be hard for some.  Of course, if you break down depression, it is just emotion, for the most part.  Emotions can be controlled, although most people don't mind extremely happy people.  In fact, most people I start to get to know are so skilled at putting on that game face that you would not even know they had depression of some kind until they open their mouths. Then, if you know what to listen for, the truth will come out, and most of the time it just smacks you in the face.  Maybe that’s why people are afraid of the quiet ones, because they don't know what they’re thinking.
Imagine a girl just standing there with her friend, and a cute guy walks by.  In an instant, this girl goes from very still to playing with her hair like crazy.  Or imagine a guy just sitting on some steps, dressed all in black with hair in spikes.  When you get close, you see in his lap a small notebook, and the beginnings of a drawing of a bird.  You never really know what these people are thinking.  I think that is the point.
If you have depression, choose to live.  If you don't, choose to show compassion.
I was a kid who liked comics.  I once created my ideal superhero and actually wrote down that he “did not have asthma” (I suffer from very bad allergies and asthma attacks).  I found it years later and remembered the feeling that I had to lose everything that could slow me down, to be who I wanted to be.  But asthma is not a life stopper.  It is only a reminder of being human. Depression is just like asthma, in that way; it is not a life stopper.  Learn to take care of it, and move on.
GRAHAM: What are your thoughts on antidepressant medication?
RICHARD: Simply put, I am for them as long, as they are administered properly and prescribed by a good psychologist, not the family doctor.
I hope you enjoyed this brief interview with author Richard Price and that you'll check out his new book Beating the Adversary: A True Story of Schizoaffective Disorder.
When you buy Beating the Adversary during its official Amazon launch, you’ll also receive a free novel entitled The Ladder by Vrinda Pendred, founder of Conditional Publications – an independent publisher dedicated to writers with neurological conditions.
To buy Beating the Adversary
and get your free novel, go to:
Thanks for reading! Please do share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

And, as this is the last day of Richard's Virtual Blog Tour, I hope you'll swing back to the top of the tour, when he visited Ana Mirjam Brucker at http://blog.inspiredplanet.co/, where they spoke about alternative therapies and the impact of receiving his diagnosis.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Believe in yourself

The subject of self belief has been one that I've struggled with my whole life. I've only recently begun to learn to do it and I have realized just how necessary it is for future success of any kind - whether it be in employment situations, relationships or anything else.

Due to the overpowering spiritual, emotional and psychological forces that have corrupted my thinking since the day that I was born, my self belief from day one was next to zero and people would often remark that I was "very anxious" and that I "didn't have a lot of self confidence". And they were right. After all, it's nearly impossible to believe in yourself when you have had so much negative, wrong thinking within yourself due to forces beyond your control. It becomes all you ever know and though the forces behind this wrong thinking are lies, if the root of the lie hasn't been exposed it still feels like truth and has power over you.

I only started to learn about the depth of the wrong thinking that had polluted my mind in my late 20's. Up until this point in time I was by and large a very passive, timid and fearful person - believing that others were always in the right and I was most definitely always in the wrong. If someone stood against me - it simply must be because I was wrong, otherwise they wouldn't be standing against me in the first place. My self belief was so low that the slightest sense of opposition would cause me to instantly collapse in on myself and basically repent to whoever was opposing me for everything - even if they were totally in the wrong. Needless to say - this was a miserable way of life for me. I was often mercilessly bullied and taken for granted by people who would then scold me if I reacted in any way (which rarely happened anyway as my confidence was so low.) I was the perfect servant - to everyone else except myself.

After going through burnout in 2011 which was in a sense being completely torn down and destroyed, God began the rebuilding process in my life from the ground up. One of the first things He began to work on was this non-existent sense of self belief I had. Over the course of 3 years since I burned out, He put me in two different situations where I was forced to "get over myself" and stand up for something. One situation was a godless, selfish relationship between two people who didn't care who they hurt just so long as they got what they wanted, and whom most of the people around them sided with saying that they "were so perfect for each other" etc, despite the fact that they left broken hearts and irreparable damage to friendships and relationships behind them. The other situation was one that arose in a church where the leadership allowed some very dangerous people to have a lot of control and influence over the church to the point where the safety of the existing members of the congregation was being compromised - so much so that people were being physically assaulted in the church while the leadership stood up and did nothing, even going so far as to send the police away when they were called to deal with these people engaging in physical violence outside the church building.

I stood up for myself and what I strongly believed was right in both situations. It was hard, and it was frightening. My default way of thinking was to back down and pretend like everything was ok, to blame myself for the way things had gone down, and to just stand back and let things happen. This was the safer alternative - one that kept everybody happy, didn't challenge anyone, and meant that I could continue my invisible existence as a timid, fragile human who hid in the shadows because he was too afraid to move into the light and stand for anything. But I knew deep in my spirit that this was not right, and that it's not what I was called to do. So I stood up for what was right - even though I was scared to death in the process.

Needless to say - I received a lot of opposition. People told me that I was wrong, that I was jealous, that I was insecure, that I was bitter, that I was fearful and that I was operating out of major character deficiencies in my own life, and that I needed to repent. I could feel the negative thinking trying to overpower me from within - to get me to back down, submit, repent. Saying things like "these church leaders are much older and more experienced than you are, Graham. They must be right, you must be wrong. There's no way that they are in the wrong in this - it's all you" - and other things like "Are you really sure you've heard from God? Did God REALLY tell you to stand against that couple?You've been wrong before. You're wrong again. You're at fault here, nothing will go away until you go and repent." But there was something inside of me that just said that backing down was wrong, and that I was actually in the right, despite what my built-in doubt and negativity was trying to tell me. But I still couldn't make peace with myself. So I went to God with a doubtful heart and asked Him if I was really in the right with these situations because I was struggling to believe that I was right, especially with all of the opposition I was receiving.

His reply was simple - "Graham, you are in the right. Your problem is that you don't believe that you are in the right because you don't believe in yourself. If you were wrong in either of these situations, I would have told you. I've put these situations in your life to reveal to bring up all of this lack of confidence and self doubt that has plagued you for so long. The opposition you are receiving from others is helping you to see the wrong thinking you already have in your own heart. Face that and deal with it, and you will learn to become more comfortable with what you believe in despite any opposition you may receive."

This word encouraged me to realize that there are times when I genuinely am in the right, and that in these two situations I was in the right with both of them. It helped me to realize that my fear and doubt regarding the stance I took was not because I was in the wrong in standing up for what I felt was right, but that my fear and doubt was that I genuinely didn't believe I could ever be in the right about anything, which contributed hugely to my passive, timid, pushover nature. God's word to me helped me to begin to believe in myself and my own instincts, and that if His Spirit was not convicting me otherwise and that every part of me was telling me that I needed to stand up and fight against something, those instincts were not wrong and sinful and needed to be trusted. I had to realize that if I was ever going to be a success of any kind, self belief was a key part of that.

It also taught me to realize that just because someone was opposing me, didn't automatically mean that I was in the wrong. In the first instance with the relationship that hurt so many people I began to realize that many of the people who so strongly sided with this couple did it not because they believed that I was in the wrong - but because it didn't suit them that they were in the wrong. In a conversation with one person who strongly supported them, God strongly convicted me to tell this person that He had told me to stand against them. As soon as I did this, he finally grudgingly admitted that he knew that I was in the right. I realized he was quite happy to sit there and lie to himself about what had happened because the truth didn't suit him even though he knew what it was. The Word of God cut through the lies he was telling me - and himself. I later confronted him about this and he had no argument because he knew that I was right. Despite how strong and forceful his initial argument was against what I had done, it eventually all collapsed because it wasn't based on truth. Ultimately we parted ways and haven't spoken since.

The important thing to notice here is that God ordained all of these events to happen to me because they were exactly what I had needed. Because I was such a frightened, limited, timid person I needed these situations to happen to force me out of my comfort zone of timidity and into a place where I was forced to stand up for something and stand by it later on. I needed to go through these things and I needed to upset people by standing for the truth in order to learn to believe in myself and my own instincts - and to trust that I do hear from God and that I can be right even when faced with opposition. It helped me to realize that opposition doesn't always mean that you are in the wrong - sometimes quite the opposite. It was a huge part of the building blocks to complete recovery and full mental wholeness and healing in my life.

I imagine that if I was by default a strong, outwardly aggressive person who oozed a sense of indestructible self belief and self righteousness, I would probably have had to go through the opposite in order to humble me. But God did this because I didn't need more humbling - I needed to be built up stronger. Since these events I have seen a remarkable change in myself. I am still not in the place of self belief I need to be in quite yet but I still feel so much freer than I did before. I have so much more faith in what I say now and how I feel about things and I have that much more confidence and belief in my own instincts and what my own heart is telling me - even if it opposes the views of other people.

To conclude - if you've been as passive and timid as what I have been, there is hope for you. There is a God who cares and wants to build you into a strong person from the inside out. Sometimes He will challenge you to do hard and scary things which will bring opposition to your life which will try to convince you that you are in the wrong. Don't fear these times. He's using this to bring up the fear, doubt and lack of belief in your life so that you can face it and deal with it, which will make you a stronger person. He's setting you up for a better life - a life of strength and courage, where you could do things you never felt that you could do before.

Take care.