I am not a psychologist, or counselor, or any professional of any kind at all and perhaps my advice or blogs or stories may be quite boring to you. And that’s okay. It really is. I blog because it helps me to keep track of my own growth, and I blog because it’s a small legacy that I can leave Baby Girl so that she can one day truly know who I am, and I blog because maybe, just maybe, something that I say may just trigger a thought or a feeling in you that you can have an abundant life, that you can view your anxieties differently, that you can know that there is a God who truly loves you. More than you will ever know.
And over the years of battling my feelings of fear and insecurity, I have learnt one or two things that I would like to share with you.
It may help you. It may not. And that’s okay too, because it certainly does help me – and it reminds me of what I need to do when I am feeling anxious.
In my last post, we chatted about anxiety equating to unbelief, or rather a belief in all the horrors that this life has to offer. Instead of believing the good, you believe the bad – and thereby start expecting bad things to happen. So, clearly, the first step is to then change what you believe.
And the best way to change what you believe is to start believing in something – or someone. Becoming a Christian won’t take away anxiety or fear or depression, but it is the first step in believing in a God who only has our best interests at heart, who loves us, who knows the number of hairs on your head. And even if you never take another step after this, this has to be the most important step to take. God loves you. He wants what is best for you. And battling fear and anxiety isn’t part of His plan. Taking this first step is acknowledging that your current belief system isn’t working and forming a relationship with God who only wants what is best for you is moving towards changing that belief system.
The second step is to challenge what you currently believe – what thoughts or fears are giving rise to your anxiety? As Joyce Meyer says, “doubt your doubts”. And how do we do this? Well, we go to the source of all truth – God’s word. Worried about eating or not-eating? Well, the Bible tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Worried about finances? God tells us that He will provide!
Worried about your life? God has a plan for you. A plan we can trust, because God says that His plan will give us hope and a future. You see – trusting God changes our perspective. When I am feeling anxious, and I do feel anxious often, I can trust God that all will work out – because His word tells me that I can trust the process, that all thing that happen (no matter how bad or awful) will be for my benefit, that He will provide, He will look after me and that I can believe in Him and His word.
It isn’t easy, because there is this expectation that when you become a Christian you shouldn’t feel anxiety or fear. But, I think that is the devil’s tactic to make us doubt – and when we doubt we open the door for more anxiety and fear to come in. Being a Christian doesn’t change the fact that this is something we will battle with – what it does do is change our perspective on how we handle it. We can quite simply, through faith, leave our fears and anxieties to God.
…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Now that we are walking towards changing our belief system, the next is to talk to yourself. Yes, talk to yourself. Saying something like, “really, you’re feeling anxious about this and this? Well, did you know that God loves you and He didn’t give you anxiety, and that He has a plan that whatever happens, you’ll have the strength to deal with it?” will reinforce a positive belief system. Constantly reinforce your mind, body and spirit with positive self-talk. It may feel strange at first, but do it until … well … for always, actually. There will always be situations that arise in life that will make us feel fearful and insecure and reinforcing ourselves with positive self-talk based on the word of God will certainly help us.
And part of our self-talk needs to include gratitude. Focus on those things that we are thankful for – no matter how small. It changes your perspective. You can’t be grateful for something and angry with something else at the same time. It shifts your focus from anxiety to gratitude. And how do you do this when you’re not feeling particularly thankful? Well, you don’t rely on your feelings – be thankful anyway.
“Lord, I’m not feeling thankful right now, but I know that I am grateful for my husband, my daughter and my job. Thank you for blessing me with these things.”
It’s changing your perspective. And it’s changing your belief system – instead of focusing on the negative, you’re focusing on what to be grateful. So, your belief system in the world being a negative place is being challenged.
So, we’ve started at the point of believing in God who is stronger and more gracious and loves us more than we’ll know. Then, we challenged our doubts and fears based on the truth of God’s word. And then we started talking to ourselves – reinforcing positive self-talk using gratitude as a vehicle to do this.
And finally … never, ever give up on yourself. You ARE worth it. God never would have sent His son to die for you if you weren’t worth it – unworthy maybe, not worthless. And if God wouldn’t give up on you – you shouldn’t give up on yourself. You will experience set-backs. You will experience days when you think, “shouldn’t I be over this already?” The battle may go on for years. But, never give up.
“The secret of life…is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” –Paulo Coelho
Want to guarantee failure. Keep on believing that you’re going to fail.
You don’t have to choose defeatist thoughts love. When you notice the failure talk running rampant in your mind, try on one of these beauties instead…
- I will never give up on myself.
- I’m worth the work.
- I’m willing to try.
- I know this is hard, but I can do hard things.
- Change isn’t easy, but nothing is harder than staying stuck where you don’t belong.
I personally tried to lose the weight for good twenty, maybe twenty five times before finally succeeding. Heck, I joined (and quit) Weight Watchers on at least five different occasions.
I want you to know that you can keep trying. I want you to know that you are worth the effort. Even if you’ve tried and failed thirty or forty times or FIFTY times…
Am I getting this right? Well, some days more than others. I’ve just realized that living in fear is no longer an option. And no matter how much it scares me, I want to grab that abundant life that God has promised me – with my husband and Baby Girl in tow. I want to embrace it. And so sometimes I feel terribly anxious and frightened, and other days not so much. But, I want to walk this walk one day at a time, one step at a time, because I know that with God it will be worth it. And my husband and daughter are worth it.
And finally – the one thing that wraps all this up and presents it to God and moves God to action on our behalf is prayer. You’ve got to keep on praying – God will move through the power of prayer. Even on good day’s pray. Thank God you’re having a good day. And on bad days, pray. Ask God to give you His strength.
Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?
Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.