The mother of a teenager called to see if I would work with her son. He had suddenly had some anxiety attacks that revolved around wondering what happens when we die. They had come out of nowhere. And what was my reply to her? “Oh, hells yeah!” Readers of A Clean Mind know that I love this type of thing – in fact, it’s exactly why I became a therapist in the first place. As a logical math guy who looked around, I came to believe very firmly that we’re spirit and not a body. So I don’t even believe in death! I think the evidence shows this pretty clearly. I wanted to make it my job to talk about this stuff so that people could live with more peace.
I don’t see too many teenagers, and he might’ve been the first, so I was a bit nervous about that. The subject is right up my alley, though, so the excitement trumped any questions about whether or not my way would work with a younger person. Also, I knew his family and knew that they have very open beliefs about religion and spirituality. That was huge because after lots of looking around, my beliefs have come to be in contrast with lots of the mainstream stuff around here. And I tell it like I see it, so I had to make sure in advance that this would not be a problem. His mother and I were totally on the same page, so we scheduled an appointment.
When the day for the appointment came, I was very excited. I felt lucky and honored to be able to talk about this with someone his age. What’s more, I didn’t have too many clients at that time whose issues were in the “spiritual” realm; it mostly “normal” therapy (whatever that is). So I was excited and ready to roll.
When he showed up and started talking, I discovered (to my amazement) that he had already fixed the problem. Really?? I didn’t really have to do anything except validate what he had already done himself. We had a great talk about the deeper questions, and I assured him that he had nothing at all to worry about in that regard. Just live and be a good person, which is the crux of what he came to realize himself prior to coming in.
Here’s the story. On a Friday night, he went to bed and shortly thereafter he had a rush of anxiety centered around what happens when we die. He said it sounded like voices in his head talking rapidly about this subject in a not-so-gentle way. Then the next day, the same thing happened during the daytime. He was quite disturbed about this, not really knowing what a panic attack was. Many people think they’re having a heart attack when they have their first panic attack. Pretty scary stuff. This came out of nowhere, along with the questions about what happens after death. And there was a negative tone to it all, as in, “What if I go to hell?”
I was prepared to tell him what I’m pretty sure of – that there is no hell as far as the Christian version goes (which is what he had been worried about). I haven’t believed in that for so long now that I laugh at the thought of it. I forget how big a deal this is for so many people, and I really do respect that – it’s just been a while so I’m out of touch. Anyway, my client had already beaten me to the punch. The attacks had come on a Friday night and Saturday, and three days later on Tuesday he sat himself down and went toe-to-toe with these questions. He looked these demons in the eye and basically said, “Let’s get it on – let’s do this.” The result was that he decided that he’s a good person who’s doing his best, and he’ll just see what happens in the end. And he was at peace after this – problem solved! And he’s doing fine now – it literally ended right then and there.
Our appointment had already been made, so he came in and I had the honor of confirming his realization. I was so happy and amazed at the same time, for I certainly did not expect this. He was glad he came anyway, because I really hammered home what he had come to understand. Why? Because I believe the same thing! I don’t like when I hear about people living in fear because of a ludicrous concept like hell that’s been banged into their head by people who had it banged in their head, etc, etc, etc. And the reason that I don’t mind talking like that, even though this “no hell” thing is a belief and not a known, is that I’m a good person doing his best, too! If I have to burn in flames for eternity after living the life I’ve been living, then I’m fine with that. I don’t know what else I can do. Be a good person and do your best. Done.
I’ll talk in much more detail about this when I start the new blog called A Deep Mind. Which will not be anytime soon, but it’s looking sooner than I originally thought. There’s just too much to talk about there. This is enough for our purposes, though. What a cool experience for me, and he was happy to know that I was out there doing what I do. He has a resource in me as long as I’m around and able to help. Hell, he might end up teaching me at some point! And that would be fine, too.
And if there are any of you that have issues with the whole “hell” thing, which you probably learned as a child before you had much of a say, then let’s go ahead and nip that in the bud. Life is much more heavenly when you do…