The magic of recovery lies in allowing and passing through fear, not for fun, but so that we can learn the lessons that reality hands us afterward.  Specifically, “That was really hard and scary, but nothing bad happened.”  Often, we make the mistake of refusing those lessons, choosing instead to follow the fear based, irrational lessons that anxiety tries to force onto us.

The Highlights

  • Disordered anxiety is irrational in nature.  It will tell you that there is danger when there is not.  It will tell you that very tiny threat is a huge threat that is definitely going to harm in you some way.  It lies, magnifies, distorts, and twists, and it cannot be reasoned with.
  • Disordered anxiety is selfish and self centered.  It only cares about inserting itself into every situation and making itself the most important thing in every room.
  • When engaged in recovery  – the magic lies in seeing that the hard things we do are scary, but that nothing bad ever really happens.
  • This the lessons that recovery, and reality, tries to teach us as we intentionally go toward our fears.
  • Anxiety wants none of this.  It will go into full irrational, selfish mode, and will try to force a different lesson on you after your exposures and challenges.  Anxiety wants to teach you that you WERE in danger, that you should never do that again, and that you narrowly escaped disaster again by some stroke of luck.
  • Anxiety will try to teach you that false lesson LOUDLY and AGGRESSIVELY.
  • Reality has another lesson to teach you.  The most important lesson.  Reality wants to teach you that you were afraid, uncomfortable, and unsure, but that nothing bad actually happened to you.  Reality want to teach you a lesson about the lying nature of your anxiety.
  • Sadly, reality speaks softly and is well behaved.  It cannot go toe-to-toe with your anxiety when it comes to commanding your attention.
  • The onus, therefore, is on you.  You must choose to turn your back on loud, aggressive, bullying anxiety, and instead listen to mild-mannered reality as it teaches you the lessons of recovery.
  • This is not easy, but it is critical.  If you continue to insist that you must follow your body, mind, and emotions even when the continually lie to you and lead you astray, things will not change and you will be frustrated because you are not making progress.
  • You must be willing to accept the lessons of recovery, and that means changing the way you interpret and process your anxiety spikes, challenges, and exposures.
  • It is important to recognize that this is a brand new direction for you, and that this is difficult.  Give yourself grace, and the space to stumble, make mistakes, or fail from time to time. Even our failures teach us things.  Do not get down on yourself when you are struggling to accept the lessons of recovery.
  • Make a firm choice to make a change, then do your best every day to listen to what the universe is showing you.  Allow yourself to see that you have always been OK, always safe, and that you have always handled things, even when you were sure you could not.

I wrote about this in detail in my recovery guide, “The Anxious Truth“.  This is the reaction AFTER, and changing it means changing the way you learn your recovery lessons.

Thanks as always for coming by for this episode.  See you next week.


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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)






Founder and host of The Anxious Truth podcast. Therapist-in-training specializing in anxiety and anxiety disorders. Author. Podcaster. Educator. Advocate. Former anxious person.