Do you ever catch yourself tapping your pen, shaking your leg, or just fidgeting? We all have a way of responding to worry or anxiousness. In that moment we may try coping with the acute stress by counting to ten or practicing some mindfulness exercises. What happens when we breeze through those “skills” and find ourselves right back in our fidgeting space; it’s time to go a little deeper.
In therapy, clients find it helpful to identify their distortions inside of a bubble called their “irrational brain.” The irrational brain works to overpower and defeat the rational brain. The irrational brain will have you thinking your friend looked at you funny when you told them your new business idea. If they looked at me funny it must mean they don’t really support me. If they don’t really support me how long have they felt this way. Continuing this thought pattern will have one thinking that they are horrible at picking friends. This is not an exaggeration, trust me this happens in real life! This is not a scenario in which counting to ten would be of much help but being able to identify your rational thoughts versus irrational thought, thinking about what your thinking about, is a MAJOR step in the right direction. Here are three other methods of coping with your anxiety.
- Identify your feelings to develop a possible solution. We won’t dig deep into primary and secondary emotions but please note that people have made a sport of masking fear with anger. It’s important to properly identify your feelings. We tend to avoid, procrastinate or simply shut down due to anxiety. If we can properly state, “I’m feeling anxious” it’s a good first step to “I’m feeling anxious because_____.” From here you can make a list of thing you can control versus things you cannot control. Take the column of things you can control and develop a game plan based on those things.
- Assert yourself. To all my “I’m just blunt” people, pull up a chair. Assertiveness assists people in expressing themselves in a manner that does not push their wishes on others, belittle others, disqualifies or minimizes others, nor does it disregard the feelings of others. The beauty of communicating in an assertive manner is being able to express your thoughts and feelings WHILE ALLOWING OTHERS to be heard as well, without blaming. The power in asserting your needs is that it can relieve the anxiety of having to be perfect to perform for the benefits of others. It’s okay to say, “I’m not in a space for this today.” Some will hold in their stress in order to not let down those around them. It’s exhausting. It’s okay to not be okay.
- Show yourself some compassion. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” -Prince Some things we are learning to chalk up to the human experience. Self-compassion is based on nonjudgemental understanding and feelings of concern, it’s a three-part concept that will be explored further and on another day. The nuts and bolts are that we are all imperfect human beings, we make mistakes, and we will continue to make mistakes. Finding refuge in others who understand this can be a healing oasis. There are some who find it hard to forgive yourself, allowing the should and musts to dictate levels of contentment. Since anxiety is based in fear, and generally fear of what MAY or MAY NOT happen to allow yourself space to be human only seems fair.
There is a cliche that says, depression is based in the past, anxiety is based in the future and peace is based in the here and now, which is why it is a present (I may have butchered that cliche but you get the idea). Take the time out to think about your thinking, assert your needs, and give yourself some compassion.
There are two scripture worth reading together the first is 1 John 4:16-18 and Romans 8:38-39. 1 John 4:16-18 states “16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Romans 8: 38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What’s powerful is perfect love casts out fear and we know that NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love! If we believe in God and God is love AND not can separate us from his love, we can rest in knowing that our God who loves us is watching over us, protecting us, and working things out for our good!
P.S. Per the usual the scripture is from the NLT version of the good word. The photo can be found here.