Many people suffer from problems with relationships, marital difficulties, parenting problems, problems at work and difficulties with authority figures. These issues stir up feelings of anger, fear, and sadness resulting in problems with anxiety, procrastination, perfectionism, depression, eating disorders, addictions, obsessive/compulsive disorders and other mental disorders when left untreated. All of these problems are a result of living life in a fallen world caused by the lies that we believe to be true about ourselves and/or our situation rather than the truth.
Whenever our emotions are “bigger than the event,” the problem is always about our history. The challenges that we face in the here and now usually have their origin in our childhood. The actual event that occurred, or that we perceive occurred, is not the problem. What we believe to be true about ourselves or our situation as a result of the event is the lie that is causing our problems today. Once the belief is established in our unconscious mind, we continue to operate in life as if the belief is true.
Example: A grown woman suffers from marital problems which cause her extreme anxiety and fear. She knows the feeling is bigger than the event and illogical as she has a husband who adores her and a thriving marriage; yet she can not stop the fear and anxiety by reasoning with herself. Whenever he questions her about what she is doing, she has a panic attack. Unconsciously she curbs the feelings of anxiety by turning to food to eliminate the pain, creating another problem. Many evenings she finds herself in front of the refrigerator looking for something to eat even though she has no hunger. This is called emotional eating. The woman is trying to eat the pain away. The pain is not caused by her hunger or her husband’s questions, but rather by the negative thoughts and lies she believes to be true about herself or her situation, “No matter what I do, it is never good enough.” Now the grown woman enters OA to deal with her eating disorder because she is unable to stop over-eating. She does fine working her program, attending meetings, meeting with her sponsor, and working the steps. She goes for long periods of time with successful sobriety only to relapse whenever she is in a life situation that triggers the belief, “No matter what I do, it is never good enough.” Why?
Exploring the underlying issue, we find that the fear and anxiety is actually rooted in a childhood memory of being what her father called “disciplined” when her efforts to clean her room met with his disapproval. While enduring the “discipline” (physical abuse) the child told herself that “No matter how hard I try, it is never good enough,” “Something is wrong with me,” “I don’t matter.” Her thoughts connected to the event are “I must have done something wrong,” “Something is wrong with me,” “No matter how hard I try, it is never good enough,” and “I don’t matter.” The lies continue to trouble the now adult mind along with the fears and anxiety that accompany the lies whenever the childhood event of the “discipline” is triggered. What we see, hear, or feel can trigger an unresolved childhood memory creating problems in the here and now until resolved. Our brains remember the lies as if they were true and the now adult operates in life as if the lies were actually true. Seeing something or someone that was present at the time of the event, smelling a smell, or hearing similar words or tone can trigger the unresolved childhood memory.
When we learn to take our thoughts captive, we learn to stop negative head talk and replace it with the truth of God’s word our fear and anxiety are replaced with peace and contentment.
The truth about us and our situations from God’s perspective produces positive feelings and actions. The next time you have feelings and thoughts that overwhelm you, remind yourself that if the feeling is “bigger than the event” it is always about your history. Take your thoughts captive, find the lie you believe about yourself or your situation and change it to the truth of God’s word.