In a world where we carry tons of information at our fingertips, able to capture the who, what, when, where and how of any given situation we continue to live with higher levels of anxiety. Worry, concern, apprehension, hesitation, agitation, stress, are all synonyms for anxiety; call it what you may but this post will be helpful to you. If we look at our four basic emotions, happy, mad, sad, and fear anxiety fits nervously below the feeling of fear (see what I did there). Fear within itself is a much-needed emotion. It keeps us safe, allowing us to be on guard, knowing when to activate an appropriate flight or flight response when faced with danger.
The first place anxiety starts is in your head. We have to learn to be more proactive in thinking about what we are thinking. This does not mean to obsess over the negative thoughts causing the anxiety but move toward IDENTIFYING the negative thoughts contributing to the feelings of anxiousness. The following are common thinking distortions that lead to feelings of anxiousness related to anxiety. Trust, this is not the full list but it’s a good start; one of these may resonate with you.
Bookends- Between 1 and 10 are 2 through 9. Bookends thinking allows you to think there are only two possible outcomes, generally, one outcome is in your favor and the other outcome is the worst possible outcome. Odds are there is space for the outcome to happen in between those two opposites. Exploring other outcomes allows you to possibly see the positive in the situation, no matter if it’s the less favorable outcome.
Binocular Vision- you’re either magnifying or shrinking the situation. Think along the lines of identifying the worst case scenario and focusing on it OR ignoring the possibility of the positives present in a situation. Chances of the worst case scenario actually happening is slim. On the other hand, minimizing is generally a go-to for those who don’t like to accept responsibility for their actions. Those that minimize their actions refuse to see how their own behavior is contributing to their current circumstance.
Fortune Telling- Let me hold your 8 Ball! This thinking allows you to assume that you already know the outcome. When the situation involves someone else, people avoid expressing their thoughts and feeling because they are assuming they already how the other person will respond. We’ve all sat listening to someone give an academy award winning performance of how they anticipate an interaction going IF they were to tell the other person their thoughts and feelings. In this situation it is mostly advised to share your thoughts and feelings; it’s fair to give people an opportunity to respond appropriately to our needs.
Should/Must Thinking- If your should and must thinking isn’t based on attainable goals that can be met with the amount of effort your willing to put forth, you’re killing yourself over UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OF YOURSELF! If someone says, “I should go run a marathon this weekend,” one could reasonably respond, “No, you should try to get up and run a mile first.” Makes sense, good!
Psalm 139: 1-6 reads, 1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. 5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
God knows you, every part of you including your thoughts. The best part is that no matter what we think, no matter how distorted the thoughts are, God knows you and accepts you wholly. Whether we think we SHOULD be doing something or we aren’t ready to accept responsibility for our actions, God knows. He knows how these thoughts hold us hostage, keeping us from growing and keeping us in fear. The beautiful thing about having a relationship with God is when we get to the point where we see ourselves the way he sees us and thinks about us, we are able to walk boldly and confidently in this life, together!
P.S. The verse is from the New Living Translation. Picture from Photo by Thought Catalog from Burst
From my heart to yours,