Anxiety Is Often A Symptom Of Deeply Held False Beliefs

If you were to ask someone why they are anxious or angry or worried, that person will probably tell you about something that has occurred or is occurring in their life. Maybe a loved one was diagnosed with cancer.  Or rent is coming due and they have no money in the bank.  Or possibly they’re living in a global COVID-19 pandemic and aren’t sure who to trust or how to respond.

Can A Global Pandemic Really Be Blamed For A Person’s Anxiety?Man wearing mask during COVID-19 pandemic

In all of these cases, it is as though we believe that life situations cause emotions.  This assumption is not true.  The fact is, we process situations through the grid of our deeply held beliefs, whether accurate or not.  How a person will respond is not a result of the situation, but rather of how their beliefs cause them to interpret the situation.

Christian author Robert McGee, in his timeless best-selling book “The Search For Significance”, teaches that emotions are a byproduct of our beliefs and thoughts… not the cause of them.

Beliefs create thoughts and emotionsIn these days of uncertainty resulting from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, countless Americans are struggling with bouts of anxiety.  Not just momentary.  But an all-encompassing feeling of uncertainty that has shifted them from a sense of hope and future to days and days of anxiety and fear.

Each Of Our Unique Responses Is Built Upon False Beliefs

An individual’s experiences of anxious thoughts and emotions stem from how they process events through the lens of their deeply held beliefs.  Beliefs are forged throughout early life as we unknowingly integrate what our mind is learning with what our emotions are feeling.  Coupled with this is each individual’s God-given, inborn temperament, which predisposes a person to process life toward an inborn set of soul needs (mind – will – emotions).

Although we each may all be responding to the coronavirus situation uniquely, the myriad of human responses can be clustered into five general categories, each based upon a specific temperament type.

The Melancholy Temperament – LOSS OF HOPE AND TRUST

Common Inborn Tendencies: This individual is unable to watch the news or read the newspaper without experiencing some level of anger.  They often carry a deep sense of internal darkness and gloom, as if the worst scenario is going to happen.  They often say, “No one can be trusted anymore.  There is no hope in this world.”

Common False Beliefs: “If I don’t appear competent, especially during stressful situations, others may reject me and make me feel worthless.”

Common Responses to Anxiety:  This individual’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to present an outward persona of competence, perfectionism, and imperviousness that serves as a façade to hide their fear of rejection due to not being competent, or the risk of loss of one of their few deep relationships due to the coronavirus. 

Anger – Hopelessness – Distrust – Perfectionism – Fear of Rejection

The Choleric Temperament – CONTROL AND OVER-COMPENSATION

Common Inborn Tendencies:  This individual has lived a very independent, fast-paced, controlled life, and their life during the pandemic has become no different.  They may think that others are just “over-reacting”, and that they are above what others fear.  They may believe “the government and the media is behind it all, and once the presidential election is over, the whole thing will just go away.”  They have no patience for anyone who they perceive as “weak” or who chooses to exercise caution in accordance with COVID-19 precautions.

Common False Beliefs: “If I am not in control of my circumstances, others may see me as a failure and remove their respect for me.”

Common Responses to Anxiety:  This individual’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to assume an “alpha” persona in order to stay above the uncertainty of circumstances outside their control.

Need for Control – Fear of Weakness – Skepticism – Pride – Superiority

The Sanguine temperament – DENIAL AND OVER-OPTIMISM

Common Inborn Tendencies:  This individual will tend to see the positive side of everything, regardless how undesirable the situation really is.  In being such an optimist, they sometimes carry themselves as though they’re immune to the pain or cost associated with the situation.  They tend to avoid consideration of (or conversations about) the darker side of life, relationships, and reality.

Common False Beliefs:  “If I get involved in the negative parts of a situation, others may stop liking and approving of me.”

Common Responses to Anxiety:  This individual’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be to “see the glass half full” as a defense mechanism to allow them to dodge anxiety and worry, which they consider too negative to think about.

Denial – Approval Addiction – Pretentiousness – Comparison – Self-righteousness

The Supine Temperament – FEAR AND COMPULSION

Common Inborn Tendencies:  This individual navigates life by following “rules”, even if some have only been construed in their mind.  To avoid the risk of not being accepted, they believe they must always do the “right” thing, which rule-following assures.  Consequently, any problems in their life, family, or world must be blamed on someone or something else.  In the midst of a pandemic, this individual may be the most vulnerable to the emotions of fear, anxiety, and compulsion, as they are a responder who finds their identity and security in people and things outside themselves.

Common False Beliefs: “If I do or say anything wrong, others won’t accept me.”

Common Responses to AnxietyThis individual’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will usually lead to compulsive attempts to manage anything or anyone that evokes fear in them in hopes of mitigating any risk of abandonment or loss in their life.  They will then deny being controlling, and attribute it to others not stepping up to their responsibilities.

Fear – Craves Acceptance – Over-analyzing – Blame – Abandonment

The Phlegmatic temperament – MINIMIZING AND DISMISSING

Common Inborn Tendencies:  This individual only holds enough life energy to commit to things which matter to them personally or affect them directly.  Otherwise, they will tend to reduce situations and circumstances (no matter how significant) down to a small, manageable explanation or solution.

Common False Beliefs:  “If I get too involved, others may expect more of me than I am able to give.”

Common Responses to Anxiety:  This individual’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic may be to avoid getting wrapped up in discussions, efforts, or emotions related to COVID-19 that don’t directly affect them, as doing so might require them to commit more energy resources than they believe they have.  They will often look at life, family, and society from the vantage point of an observer. And the greater the possible threat, the more casual this individual may become.

Lack of Empathy – Under-involvement – Minimizing – Fear of Commitment – Smug

God Wants Us To Find Freedom From Anxiety

The first step to freedom from anxiety is recognizing that life is distorted by our expectations of what we anticipate we are going to experience.   Situations trigger long-held beliefs in our mind and heart that lead us to respond in emotional ways that are often not healthy or productive.

Can we control our life situations – specifically the COVID-19 pandemic – to the degree that we can keep our false beliefs from being triggered?  We try sometimes, but obviously that cannot be done.  Therefore, we have a great need to destroy the false beliefs and replace them with eternal, absolute truths that God discloses to us in His character and His word.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, please contact us today.  We can help!  We offer convenient, safe online Christian counseling via FaceTime or Zoom, as well as in-person counseling in our Louisville, Kentucky office.  Our counselors are uniquely trained and fully equipped to walk with you from this season of anxiety and worry into a season of stability and confidence.  Call us today at 502-717-5433, or email at drdave@lifetrainingcounseling.org