Book Title: DECONSTRUCTING ANXIETY The Journey from Fear to Fulfillment by Todd E. Pressman, PhD
Category: Adult Non-Fiction (18+) (336 pages)
Genre: Self-Help/How To
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Release date: January 2020
Tour dates: Jan 13 to Feb 7, 2020
Content Rating: PG
In Deconstructing Anxiety, Pressman provides a new and comprehensive understanding of fear’s subtlest mechanisms. In this model, anxiety is understood as the wellspring at the source of all problems. Tapping into this source therefore holds the clues not only for how to escape fear, but how to release the very causes of suffering, paving the way to a profound sense of peace and satisfaction in life. With strategically developed exercises, this book offers a unique, integrative approach to healing and growth, based on an understanding of how the psyche organizes itself around anxiety. It provides insights into the architecture of anxiety, introducing the dynamics of the “core fear” (one’s fundamental interpretation of danger in the world) and “chief defense” (the primary strategy for protecting oneself from threat). The anxious personality is then built upon this foundation, creating a “three dimensional, multi-sensory hologram” within which one can feel trapped and helpless. Replete with processes that bring the theoretical background into technicolor, Deconstructing Anxiety provides a clear roadmap to resolving this human dilemma, paving the way to an ultimate and transcendent freedom. Therapists and laypeople alike will find this book essential in helping design a life of meaning, purpose and enduring fulfillment.
Institute, the New York Open Center, and numerous professional conferences, including the prestigious Council Grove Conference, sponsored by the Menninger Foundation. He has written dozens of articles, educational programs, and two highly acclaimed books, Radical Joy: Awakening Your Potential for True Fulfillment and The Bicycle Repair Shop: A True Story of Recovery from Multiple Personality Disorder. He earned his doctorate in psychology from the Saybrook Institute and an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, has studied under renowned leaders in the Consciousness movement and Gestalt therapy, and has traveled around the world to study the great Wisdom traditions, from Zen Buddhism to fire-walking ceremonies, providing a cross-cultural perspective of the extraordinary capacities of the mind and spirit. He makes his home in Philadelphia.
LESSONS ON RADICAL JOY: Todd E. Pressman, Ph.D.
In part 1 of this series, we dis- cussed the necessity of letting go all pre-conceived notions of
what one’s Vision must be. Of course, this requires letting go of our fears and defenses around
what we should be doing with our lives and who we think we should be. Such a letting go gives a deep experience of Freedom. We may be tempted to interpret this as the freedom from needing to do anything. Without fear, we no longer have the need to fix or change reality, and may wish simply to rest in our Freedom, observing the “play of consciousness,” the dance of energy and form. Or we may wish to enjoy our Freedom by doing whatever we please, understanding that there is nothing to fear from the consequences of such action.
Both of these responses fail to recognize our infinite interconnectedness with others and the
effects of our individual actions on the whole. To come to the point of Freedom and rest in it by
ourselves, “sitting on the mountaintop” and playing “above it all,” is not true Freedom and
cannot bring true Joy. It is still fear in the form of “selfishness, the separated identity that does
not yet recognize its Oneness with all of creation. We literally cannot be fully re- leased until
everything is released with us. The Buddha, upon the moment of his Enlightenment, looked
around in amazement and said, “Isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it marvelous? All sentient beings
awaken together!” This is the return to Oneness, where- in we recognize our interdependency
and realize that we must help re- lease others into Joy if we ourselves are to be released.
When looking for our Vision, then, a crucial point to consider is this: How does the Joy I feel
want to be expressed in a way where others are released into Joy as well? This is the service
aspect of Vision questing- -it is called “seva” in Sanskrit, or “bakhti yoga” in Hinduism. Selfless service, devotion to others, can be a complete path to realization by itself. In the Ramayana epic, this ideal is represented in the form of Hanuman, the monkey god who served Lord Rama. He is often depicted as ripping open his chest to expose the love of his heart. And Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity devote themselves tirelessly to serving the poorest of the poor, or “Jesus in his distressing disguise.” Similarly, the bodhisattva is one who has taken a vow to continue on the wheel of death and rebirth, postponing personal Enlightenment until each “sentient being,” even every blade of grass, is also enlightened.
To rest in the experience of Freedom amid a world which begs for healing is to stay defended
against the fear of taking action! There is work to be done, and our re- lease from fear means
nothing if it does not make a difference in the world. How does this Freedom want to be
translated, such that you experience the Joy of releasing others into Freedom? How does it want to be fulfilled such that the world may find its Joy right in the middle of the human condition? Certainly our Vision is to be that which is inspiring to us, that which captures the essence of Joy for us to celebrate, but for this to be possible it must include Joy for others as well. After all, we want to live in a world where even the possibility of the pain we have experienced is erased, and everyone we see is safe and healed, so that we may feel safe and healed in their presence, too. Along with this is an additional important consideration in the search for our Vision: “If my path up to now has been driven fear and defense, should I not abandon it entirely and start anew? Is a radical lifestyle change not necessary?” The answer, again, requires that we let go of preconceptions, not deciding on an answer in advance. We want to practice not knowing but “listening”, not deciding but inquiring. And the fears and defenses which would obscure the answer must be released: are we afraid to make such a radical change? Are we, on the other hand, more afraid not to? Is the impulse to escape our past–with its pain, fear, and limitation–a defensive attempt to reach for personal joy, a denial of responsibilities? Is there, alternatively, a desire to cling to our familiar lifestyle, avoiding a radical change out of fear of the un- known, the fear of giving up security? Here, too, we are to find and face our fears so that we may dis- cover what is most appropriate in the way of lifestyle change. We must be completely willing to stay in our pre- sent circumstances and at the same time be completely willing to make a radical change in order for our Vision to show up. Only with this willing- ness will we be free of the investment in outcomes that would keep us from knowing what serves the higher Purpose, what makes for our ultimate Fulfillment.