Fear About Going Back to Normal

Anxiety / Anxiety Certificate Course / default / Post-COVID Reentry Process

Fear About Going Back to Normal

Hearing for the first time, “We need not be afraid of our thoughts,” can leave us feeling confused, shocked, or even upset. Yet, our attitude will determine what follows next. If we have a growth mindset [1], we are likely to be curious, wonder, ponder, ask questions, and even look for more information. On the other hand, if we have a fixed mindset [2], we are more likely to ruminate upon how confusing, shocking, and upsetting such an assertion is. This then leads to more confusion, shock, and upset. And this then confirms what the assertion was based upon to begin with. In other words, the reason why the more we ruminate on how upset we feel the more upset we feel, is because our brain works through associations. Association takes place through the firing of neurons [3]. And the more intense and the longer the firing of our neurons, the more we are likely to experience the effects. And that’s the same thing that happens when we feel. Our neurons are firing so regularly, frequently, and intensely, that our feeling has reached an action potential, whose effects are then experienced.

The above biochemical explanatory model of thoughts and feelings has been simplified to make it available to all. However, if fully understood, it will be enough to appreciate and understand the following biochemical based fact, “We need not be afraid of our thoughts.” Regardless of whether we are talking about fear, worries, anxiety, or feeling upset, it is a biochemical fact that we are simply feeling our thought. Moreover, the Neuroscience basis for this assertion is best explained through the Inside-Out Paradigm [4]. Simply put, our thoughts are simply reflected in the outside through our feelings, through our somatic symptoms, through our behaviors, and the like. This means when we feel fear, we must be having fear thoughts; and we need not be afraid of these fear thoughts because, in fact, being afraid of them entails thought association. Thought association entails neuron firing, leading to action potential. All this means is that we continue to activate the same thought that is being reflected as a type of feeling that we want to go away. In other words, we are reinforcing the fear thoughts and feelings because we are focusing on them. In Reality, in Truth, we need not be afraid of our thoughts, not those of fear, not those of upset, not those of worries, or anxiety, none of them.

When we fully understand that we will be able to:

  1. Develop a healthier relationship with our thoughts
  2. Develop a healthier relationship with fear
  3. Understand how we do not fear anything other than our thoughts
  4. Understand once we are no longer afraid of our thoughts of fear, we will no longer need to be afraid of our feeling of fear
  5. Appreciate that once we’re no longer afraid of our feeling of fear, we will develop a healthier relationship with our fear of going back to normal.

At SWEET we are:

  1. Translating the latest in Science into clinical care
  2. Bridging the 25-year gap in translational research
  3. Organizing the rapidly increasing vast of knowledge in our field (doubles every 18 months) in such a way that all of us clinicians can use, implement, practice, and develop into skills, leading to mastery

We are committed to this because the two of us (Karen and Mardoche) have witnessed in clinical practice and in the literature the following:

  1. Patients who have physical health needs experiencing successful intersection with mental health, emotional health, and behavioral modification so that they benefit from optimal health
  2. Patients in the general mental health, psychiatry, and neurology systems are shown to have started displaying symptoms early and we therefore ought to start early
  3. Adolescents who get involved in the juvenile justice system and who use mind altering substances. This means pediatric mental health is to be comprehensive and requires multifaceted skills
  4. Those involved in the criminal justice system have high recidivism rates that are related to challenges around reentry and around substance use disorder. This means to properly make a difference in the lives of this patient population, we ought to hone on our skills on transition and on substance use disorder treatment
  5. Most of those with a substance use disorder enter recovery and then relapse, then recover and then relapse. A phenomenon often related to their environment, among other factors, but most being related to the Social Determinants of Health. To help our patients then, including those with substance use disorder, we ought to address the Social Determinants of Health with a focus on systems, and management
  6. Clinicians are working with clients from primary care, to criminal justice system, to FQHC, to College mental health, inpatient, community mental health and beyond.  All of them with no exceptions are being cared for by us, clinicians, on the front line. And as we are taking care of them, we find ourselves to be burnt-out. The vast majority of us experience exhaustion, a sense of cynicism, and a sense of lack of accomplishment – the burnout triad. Then, we realized and asked, how can we really make a difference in the lives of our patients without making a difference in the lives of those of us taking care of our patients?

Then SWEET was born to be the place for all clinicians throughout the world. To be the community, the place of support for one another, the place of training, cutting edge education, and where each clinician and agency alike feel empowered to care for everyone from those who are the most vulnerable to those who are the highest functioning. This is what SWEET is all about.

As such, as we are learning to develop a healthy relationship with fear about going back to normal, we hope you will use this opportunity to make SWEET your second home, so together we work on ceasing suffering once and for all. No one, absolutely no one, is to be afraid of one’s thoughts, when one knows what a thought really is. And at SWEET we show the how.

Thank you and until soon,

Karen and Mardoche

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about this, please join us for our Anxiety Certificate Course, scheduled to start on May 5th. Click here to register.

[1] Dweck, Carol. “What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means.” Harvard Business Review, 13 Jan. 2016, hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means.

[2] “What Is a Fixed Mindset: How Having a Fixed Mindset Could Be Holding You Back?” Intelligent Change, www.intelligentchange.com/blogs/read/fixed-mindset.

[3] Stonier T. (1997) How Neurons Create Thought. In: Information and Meaning. Springer, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-0977-8_13

[4] Neill, Michael. The inside out Revolution: the Only Thing You Need to Know to Change Your Life Forever. Hay House, 2013.