Building Your Own Prison

And Escaping from Anxiety

I want to tell you about the world’s most secure prison. No, it’s not Alcatraz. This prison doesn’t even have bars. It’s the prison we build for ourselves.

As someone who suffers from anxiety and panic, do you sometimes go into lock-down? Do you avoid certain situations? Do you end up feeling like a prisoner?

When you avoid things that make you anxious (driving over a bridge, social occasions, taking an exam, or giving a speech), you get locked out from life’s wonderful opportunities. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, until eventually it feels like you’re imprisoned.

How do you get out? How can you free yourself?

Harry Houdini, as you probably know, was a famous escape artist. One day a prison warden bragged that he had a cell that no one could escape. Houdini accepted the challenge, was placed in the cell, and immediately started trying to pick the lock. But after hours of effort, Houdini couldn’t throw open the bolt. In exhaustion, Houdini leaned against the bars, and the cell door swung open.

Not even Houdini can pick a lock that’s not locked.

People with anxiety and panic see themselves as trapped. That’s what anxiety is—an unproductive response to an unreasonable fear. In other words, it’s not locked! You can just walk out.

But too often people with anxiety don’t walk out. They blame others or circumstances. And they tell themselves a story that becomes a prison in their mind.

But you’re the author of that story. You can revise it. You can stop blaming, stop explaining, and start editing.

I want to tell you about an amazing person who revised their story and took charge of their life. The point here is plain: if Dave Pelzer can do it, we have absolutely no excuses.

Dave Pelzer was born to the worst kind of parents. His case of child abuse is one of the most gruesome in U.S. history. He nearly died several times at the hands of his mother. She also tortured him emotionally. For months at a time she would lock him in the basement. She starved him, demeaned him, and degraded him. For years, he slept on an old army cot. His clothes were torn and he smelled because he was forbidden to bath. He was fed sparingly, and spoiled scraps at that.

Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the atrocities of the holocaust, famously said:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Dave Pelzer, even as a boy, must have understood this. Despite being trapped, he refused to submit to a prison of his own making. He dreamed of being loved and having the opportunity to love others.

At age 12, Dave Pelzer was rescued and placed in a series of foster homes until he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at age 18.  He has since authored 6 books, including 4 New York Times Best Sellers. He has inspired millions of people to help kids at risk, raise awareness about child abuse, and make positive changes in their lives.

Maybe he’ll inspire you too.

If Dave Pelzer can take charge of his life and not allow his circumstances to keep him down, so can you.

There’s a prisoner inside each of us, someone who lacks courage and wants to avoid.

But there’s also a Dave Pelzer inside each of us, someone who wants to seize the joys and opportunities of life, and be free from a self-imposed prison.

Let me show you how to get out of the prison you built for yourself. It’s really not that difficult. I broke it down into 9 steps, all of which are explained in detail in Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan.

Or, maybe you want 1-on-1 private coaching. Please note, howeverf, that it’s generally advisable to do Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan first, before scheduling a private session.

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Greensboro, NC

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