We have been involved with anxiety and panic disorders for over 45 years, (We are dating ourselves, we know). Some of that time has been working on overcoming it ourselves, but a lot of it has been in helping others overcome their disorders. We have been very privileged to have had many different people share their experiences, ideas and beliefs with us on what has helped them on their path to recovery.
We realize everyone is different and responds differently at different times to the usual tools available to us in recovery, be it relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, exposure therapy, challenging belief systems and even medication.
Today, we want to touch on the belief some have around spirituality.
In Christianity this entity is called God.
So, does a belief in God make a difference in recovery?
We received a call a number of years ago from a woman who was interested in attending our group because of the panic and anxiety she was experiencing. One of her questions about the structure of the group and how it was run, was an inquiry as to whether we were a “Christian Group”. We asked her what she meant, as we have always believed as long as we are helping others, we are doing what could be considered “Christian”, helping or serving others. She went on to ask if we pray and talk about God and Jesus. We told her that we did not, as we had those attending who may be atheist, agnostic, Jewish or Buddhist and certainly did not want to offend anyone else’s belief system. In fact, we may encourage someone to question their belief system if it does not appear to be working to their highest good. This woman declined to attend our group because of her beliefs.
But this did start us on the road to inquire if having a belief in God or a Higher Power would be beneficial to us on our road to recovery. We read many different articles that were written by ”believers” and ”non-believers”, scientists and doctors.
We tried to stay neutral and not let our beliefs colour the outcome of our informal study.
In a nutshell, can we overcome an anxiety disorder without believing in God or a Higher Power? Yes!
But there is a very strong argument to be made that people who do have some sort of spiritual belief system are happier, more peaceful and more motivated. It did not appear to matter whether their belief was in a kind and loving God or, as in stated in Lesson 8, a sense of a Higher Power as abstract as “Cosmic Consciousness” or as down-to-earth as the beauty of the ocean or mountains. Even if we regard ourselves as agnostic or atheist, if we get a sense of inspiration from taking a walk in the forest or contemplating a beautiful sunset that inspires us and takes us beyond ourselves to see a larger spiritual perspective this, to us, is a belief in a Higher Power.
So, Yes! Our little study did find that spiritual people are relatively happier, more peaceful and more motivated than people without spirituality in their lives. We encourage you to explore and question…..
Wishing You a Speedy Recovery,
Dennis and Debra