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I am a 45 year old woman, married to a wonderful man with two great kids. During my childhood in Southern California, I was blessed with many advantages. However, we all have our challenges in life and my struggle has been anxiety. My first panic attack struck during my first semester away at university when I was 18. Anxiety had haunted me off and on over the years. Episodes were triggered by a specific event and lasted from a few hours to a few days. But I am happy to say it has never stopped me from my passion which has been traveling and experiencing other cultures. My motto: “I always get through it.”
It is hard to explain what a panic attack feels like to someone who has never experienced it. I felt like I had no control. Obsession, fear and worry took over. My body experienced fight-or-flight response: loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and insomnia. I never felt more alone, vulnerable and helpless. Nights were the most difficult. It was hell experiencing those very dark places. There were moments when I felt like I was going to die. I once had an anxiety attack so severe I was crawling out of my skin with fear. I cried on the bathroom floor praying to God for peace in my heart, mind, body and soul. With support from family and friends, I managed to survive the anxiety/panic attacks, but it wasn’t easy.
In 2007, an acquaintance gave me “The Secret” while I was pregnant with my first child and moving to a new city. It sat on my book shelf, unread. My second child arrived two years later and I was busy being a full-time mom. Unopened, “The Secret” sat on my book shelf.
In March 2011, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown triggered severe anxiety. The night-time panic attacks became more frequent and severe. I knew I needed help and thus began a true soul searching journey. A spiritually-based psychologist helped me get to the core of my issues and started me on a path to changing my life. She gave me tools to manage the anxiety. Placing my hand on my heart and focusing on breathing helped to calm me down.
“The Secret” beckoned to me as I did some Spring cleaning in 2015, as we packed up to live overseas for a year. This book had survived moving to a new city and sat on my book shelf for 8 years in total!
Twenty pages in, I was hooked! The Secret was the missing piece of the puzzle for me and I read it at the exact moment I was supposed to. It would not have resonated with me in the same way if I had I read it 6 months before, a year before or 5 years before. At that moment, after having worked with the psychologist who gave me some tools, everything came together.
I wrote in my journal, “I am the master of my thoughts” and started repeating this affirmation over and over. I realized that I do have control over my thoughts! I began writing down affirmations. I now have 50 decorated and laminated flashcards which I carry with me and recite throughout each day. They sit next to my bed. I repeat them in the middle of the night if I wake up. I fall back to sleep using these affirmations instead of going down the fear road. My first thought on awakening each morning is: “Thank you! I am abundantly grateful” and I have retrained my brain.
I now truly am the “Master of my thoughts” because I am completely aware of their direction. For example, I conquer a worry or fear thought by repeating: “I am present, I am aware.” Living more in the present moment, I feel blessed and grateful for this book’s affect on my daily life. I tear up thinking about how my daily life has changed since reading The Secret.
It has now been two years since that horrible night of anxiety on the bathroom floor where I was praying for peace in my heart, mind, body and soul. My husband, children and I have recently returned from an amazing year living in Europe. My fourth time living overseas. I am fulfilling my passion for travel and experiencing other cultures. I not only conquered my deepest fears and issues but also have an arsenal of positive affirmations that help reinforce a solid mental state. One word comes to mind and that is: Freedom!