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Excerpted from Beyond Anxiety and Phobia by Edmund Bourne. Copyright © 2001 by Edmund Bourne. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Certain personality, attitudinal, and behavioral changes frequently occur in persons who have been involved with spirituality for a while."

  Edmund Bourne,
Beyond Anxiety and Phobia
, Part 1

What are the possible outcomes of relying on spiritual resources to assist in recovery? From my own experience, I believe there are two possible outcomes – an actual miracle and/or an inner transformation:

1) A miracle may happen. The problem, no matter how resistant to conventional psychotherapeutic, medication, and self-help approaches – simply goes away. It is seemingly lifted, as a result not only of your own efforts but of something more – something beyond your own effort or understanding. This may not be a very frequent phenomenon, but it does sometimes happen. Traditional religion views such miracles as "grace" or "deliverance." This kind of thing happens, for example, in spontaneous, inexplicable remissions from terminal illness. It also happens in 12-step programs to people who felt completely defeated by their addictions prior to making a commitment to work the steps. In my own experience I’ve seen it happen to a few persons with long-standing anxiety problems that did not respond to any conventional forms of treatment.

2) No miracle happens. Anxiety symptoms, whether in the form of panic, generalized anxiety, a particular phobia, an obsessive-compulsive problem – do not go away altogether in spite of good treatment and involvement with spirituality. However, you’re able to make substantial inner changes in attitude that enable you to live so well with the problem that its intensity is significantly lessened. What once was a painful, seemingly insurmountable problem is now less painful – and thus less of a problem. You have developed sufficient inner peace, strength, and faith in life that you can accept your limitations with equanimity. Acceptance is not the same as resignation or fatalism. It means working with adversity as a way to deepen your relationship with your Higher Power and also to evolve as a human being. If your problem hasn’t entirely gone away, despite your best efforts, you may conclude: "The lesson isn’t over yet – there’s more to learn by working with this limitation, either by way of healing it or accepting and transcending it (or both)."

Certain personality, attitudinal, and behavioral changes frequently occur in persons who have been involved with spirituality for a while. There is a field known as the "psychology of religion" which studies such changes. You would not (and probably cannot) deepen your involvement with spirituality out of a motive to "acquire" such personality changes. However, they are a natural consequence of making a long-term commitment to grow spiritually. I mention those here that I feel are particularly relevant to healing anxiety and anxiety disorders.

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