Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Identify the Enemy and Plan for Victory

The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 12:
Identify the Enemy and Plan for Victory

Note: For previous posts in this blog mini-series, please visit: 1:, 2:, 3:, 4:, 5:, 6:, 7:, 8:, 9:, 10:, 11:

Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. And, we need God’s prescription for victory over anxiety.

Empathetic Data Gathering

Whether you’re working through your own anxiety or working with someone who is, careful data gathering is vital. If you’re helping someone else, then add a word to that phrase and make it empathetic data gathering.

If you’re a “Type A” person, a take-charge individual, a take-no-prisoners character, or someone for whom anxiety is a foreign concept, then you’ll need to prayerfully ask God to empower you to connect with and comfort someone for whom life is one big phobia, panic attack, or state of anxiety. Gathering data is not some Joe Friday (very old TV show--Dragnet) “Just the facts, Maam.” It’s soulful—two souls connecting together as they start their journey toward victory over anxiety.

What to Listen for and List

1. Take (if you’re the helper) or do (if you are suffering with anxiety) a careful anxiety/worry/fear/phobia/stress inventory.

Get specific. Create accurate labels. What is feared? When is anxiety worse? What stressors are most prominent. You can’t defeat a nameless, shapeless enemy. Identify specific instances, areas, and issues.

2. Take or do a careful anxiety/worry/fear/phobia/stress history.

When are things worse? Better? When did issues with anxiety first crop up? What has been done in the past to defeat anxiety—what has worked and what hasn’t?

3. Explore (the “counselor”) or share (“the counselee”) the inner feelings/emotions.

What does it feel like for this person to be “anxious,” “fearful,” “worried,” “stressed out,” and/or “panicked”?

4. Do a Comprehensive “Soul Exam”

Physicians of the body start with a comprehensive exam. Soul physicians are even more comprehensive.

a. A Spiritual Exam:

How is Christ being related to the issues of anxiety?

b. A Social Exam:

How are others being related to the issues of anxiety?

c. A Self Exam:

How is the individual relating them self to the issues of anxiety?

d. A Mental Exam:

What thoughts, beliefs, images, and mindsets are associated with the issues of anxiety?

e. A Motivational and Behavioral Exam:

What choices, goals, purposes, actions, and behaviors are associated with the issues of anxiety?

f. An Emotional/Feeling Exam:

See point 3 above.

g. A Physical/Body/Medication Exam:

How is the body responding/reacting to the anxiety issues? What is the person’s diet, exercise routine, sleep patterns? Are any medications being taken? When was the last physical exam?

5. Create a “Victory Plan”

What would healing feel like? What would overcoming anxiety look like? What will victory involve? What will be different or better when anxiety/fear/worry/phobia/panic are conquered? What is the ultimate goal (see part 11:

6. Infuse Hope

The battle is not easy, but it is winnable. Especially if the ultimate goal is conformity to the image of Christ (see part 11: Believe that through Christ others have had victory and so can you. Peace that passes understanding is available.

The Rest of the Story

In essence, you start by identifying the enemy and planning for victory.
But there’s at least one more relational process that is vital for the healing to begin. We’ll explore that together next time in Part 13.

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