My Facebook feed was filled with photos from New York. The cityscape glowed orange, the sun hidden behind a smoky haze. Wildfires in Canada caused some of the worst air quality in the country that week. Officials urged everyone to stay indoors, especially those with respiratory or heart problems.
For most people, it was business as usual. But for Lynn, one of my clients with chronic anxiety, that day was a living nightmare.
We discussed her experience in her Zoom session the next day. As Lynn drove into Manhattan that morning, the smoke took her by surprise. Anxiety started to creep in before her first work meeting. The orange haze thickened, and people wore masks in the streets. By 2 PM, it was nearly dark outside, and her anxiety reached its peak. She decided to cancel her remaining appointments and head home.
When Lynn first contacted me 2 years ago, anxiety attacks had taken over her life.
She avoided leaving her home or traveling and was embarrassed at how small her life had become. It took a few sessions until we got to the root cause of her anxiety. Lynn told me she had her first anxiety attack on a plane during the pandemic. Her physical symptoms made it feel like she was about to die. The traumatic plane ride, combined with the uncertainty of the pandemic, morphed into social anxiety in the following months.
Anxiety, in my perspective, is a natural visitor that comes and goes in our lives.
When I mentor women struggling with anxiety, we begin the healing process by addressing the shame they feel about their emotions. Women like Lynn usually seek my help when anxiety takes over, preventing them from fully living life. The problem usually isn’t the anxiety itself but the intense fear we develop around having anxiety. This is where the healing lies.
Our goal shouldn’t be to eliminate anxiety but instead embrace its presence and confront our fear of it.
I used a blend of techniques to help Lynn explore her anxiety, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and my signature healing approach.
Techniques for Overcoming Anxiety
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective psychological treatment that states our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and behaviors are interconnected. In other words, our thoughts and actions influence our emotions. Since issues often arise from incorrectly interpreting situations, triggers, or events, a key component of CBT is providing clients with accurate information.One classic CBT technique for addressing anxiety is Exposure. In the first few months of working with Lynn, I exposed her to anxiety-provoking situations while teaching her methods to alleviate her anxiety. We began with guided visualization and then progressed to planning real-life situations that provoked her anxiety. This allowed her to practice coping.
- Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a transformative therapeutic approach that fosters self-awareness and emotional healing by exploring one’s sub-personalities or “parts.” Utilizing IFS techniques during my sessions with Lynn helped her identify, understand, and communicate with her wounded parts: The Anxious Part, The Ashamed Part, The Physical Sensations Part, The Unsafe Part, and The Self-Judging Part.After offering compassion to these wounded parts, Lynn was able to strengthen her connection with the supportive inner parts of her Self: The Aware Part, The Bold Part, The Stepping Up Part, and The Wise Part.
- Guided Visualization uses guided imagery to tap into the imagination and create calming mental images for a sense of safety and relaxation. Guiding Lynn through these visualizations helped her feel supported while discovering a “safe place” within herself that she could picture at any time.
- Energy Healing is an integral part of my signature healing approach, as it helps release the trauma that is stored in the body. With Lynn, we addressed the trauma her body was holding to create a safe container, not just mentally but also energetically. Energy healing is an important layer of trauma and anxiety healing that is often left out of traditional practices. This is why I intentionally include it in my approach.
- The Journey into the Soul is the 3-step immersive process I developed years ago and remains the most powerful healing method I use. In the Journey, I examine my client’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and energetic states to comprehensively understand their health and well-being. Then, I facilitate the release of stored pain and emotions that hinder their growth and progress in life. This fosters a deep connection with their soul, enabling them to receive guidance and clarity. I don’t do the healing myself. I am simply a channel for the healing energy to move through while empowering my client through the healing process.In every session, even those not solely focused on The Journey into the Soul, I still weave components of this approach into the healing experience.
Addressing Trauma on a Cellular Level
The limitations of talk therapy and cognitive awareness
Talk therapy and cognitive awareness alone will only heal so much. Until the trauma stored on a cellular level is addressed, the healing process will often hit a roadblock.
Most women I mentor come to me after doing talk therapy for years. They have addressed their trauma mentally and emotionally, but they remain stuck somatically and energetically. I discuss my approach to healing trauma in my blog: Beyond Talk Therapy: A Holistic Approach to Trauma Healing.
The importance of healing from within
Combining CBT, IFS, Guided Visualization, Energy Healing, and elements of The Journey into the Soul allowed me to help Lynn heal her anxiety in a more holistic way.
As Lynn and I progressed through these different techniques during our sessions, she gained both awareness and new practices. Eventually, she learned how to utilize self-soothing tools on her own. We celebrated her progress in managing her anxiety triggers. Within a few months, Lynn learned to stop avoiding social events and instead, coexist with her anxiety.
But there was still one fear she couldn’t let go of: her daily drive into the city for work.
We engaged in a CBT-style conversation focused on the facts. Lynn would monitor the smoke situation in the city day by day. Having a plan helped alleviate her concerns. By realizing she was linking her recent anxiety to past attacks, Lynn’s logical mind felt informed and more at ease. Then, we checked in with her internal parts, connected with her emotions, and cleared any stagnant energy within her body that no longer served her well-being.
Next, I asked Lynn to close her eyes as I guided her on an inward journey. As I allowed healing energy to flow from me to her, she instinctively directed it to her heart. Within a few minutes, her breathing and body posture relaxed. I invited her to notice the internal parts that were present, and she had a dialogue with her Anxious Part. This conversation helped the Anxious Part recognize the differences between the smoke in New York and Lynn’s anxiety attack on the plane.
Once Lynn’s Anxious Part understood that her anxiety was coming from the past, it relaxed.
Now Lynn was free to connect with her Safe & Secure Part. This part reminded her that she possessed the strength, wisdom, and insight to ensure her safety in the present moment. As Lynn opened her eyes and smiled, she shared a vivid image from her past, where she was fully empowered, leading herself and others with confidence. At that moment, she felt relaxed and at peace. She took this image with her into the rest of her week.
Following our session, Lynn verified the facts. She felt confident in her decision to drive into the city, knowing she could make smart choices to ensure her safety. Later, she shared that she had a productive day at work and experienced a strong sense of internal support.
When anxiety becomes chronic, it’s easy to feel controlled by it: but you can take your power back.
Women like Lynn are proof that it is possible to live empowered alongside anxiety. Implementing a range of holistic techniques to heal your fear from the root is the best way to make lasting change. Anxiety is multi-dimensional, affecting the mind, body, and spirit. Because of this, I’ve found that the best healing approach is also a holistic one.
Conclusion: Embracing Anxiety and Moving Forward with Empowerment
In Lynn’s journey to overcoming anxiety, we’ve seen how a blend of techniques, including CBT, IFS, Guided Visualization, Energy Healing, and The Journey into the Soul, can help individuals not only manage their anxiety triggers but also coexist with anxiety in a more harmonious way. By addressing the trauma stored on a cellular level, we can unlock a deeper level of healing that may not be achieved through traditional talk therapy and cognitive awareness alone.
As we embrace anxiety as a natural visitor in our lives, we can learn to accept its presence without fearing it. This shift in perspective allows us to regain control and empowers us to focus on personal growth and self-improvement. Remember that overcoming anxiety is a continuous process, and it’s essential to be patient and compassionate with ourselves as we navigate the complexities of our emotions.
I hope Lynn’s story has inspired you to explore different methods of healing and shown you that it is possible to transform your relationship with anxiety. May her journey serve as a beacon of change for others who face similar challenges, and may it encourage you to take the first steps towards empowerment and reclaiming control over your life.
Maybe you see your story in Lynn’s. If you want to overcome anxiety or trauma and are interested in professional guidance, you can learn more about working with me here.
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