Examining Your Anxiety
It may seem that our current, crazy, stressful lives produce a bumper crop of anxieties, concerns, and worries. Because we think our present circumstances are unique, we use them as an explanation and, frankly, as an excuse. We use them as an excuse to justify hopelessness, for staying stuck. Life today is just so hard. This is just who I am. I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. No one can really help. What I go through is just too weird; no one can really understand.
Anxieties speak a language of absolutes. A possibility is a certainty. What could, will. What might, will. But if anxieties speak a language of absolutes, it is not a universal language. Some words are not translatable. Anxiety does not have a word for peace. It does not have a word for relief. It does not have a word for rest. It is a language of negativity, of hopelessness, of despair. It is a language of defeat. Anxieties force us to surrender before the true battle is even engaged.
There is an axiom: know your enemy. I’d like you to anthropomorphize your anxiety, your phobia, your panic attack and think about it as something other than yourself. This is a way for you to examine your anxieties and their consequences through an imaginary buffer. Put them outside of yourself and give yourself permission to examine them without triggering them.
Anxiety disorders have an anatomy. They have shared traits and unique features. What I’d like you to do now is get to know yours. As much as you’re able, think of it in the third person. Use “it” instead of “I.”
- What are the physical characteristics of anxiety? What does it do to you?
- How often does it happen?
- What do you do to help yourself feel better? Does anything help?
- Does anything make it worse?
- How long does it usually last?
- Have you ever talked with someone about it? If so, who and why? If not, why not?
- How long have you been hoping it would just go away?
- Do you really believe you’ll ever be able to get over it?
Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Anxiety is a perversion of faith. Anxiety is the confidence that what we hope against will actually happen; it gives us assurance that what we can’t yet see will be bad. Hebrews 11 is a chapter replete with the victories of faith. Anxiety doesn’t produce any victories; it only accomplishes defeat. This is not the life God has planned for you. The life you’re living now is not the one he wants you to live.
The faith life God intends for you is not the perverse life of anxiety. He does not want you to take your capacity for faith and distort it into a belief in the least possible or the worst imaginable. He does not want you to sacrifice your life on the altar of anxiety, giving up more and more year after year, hoping to appease anxiety’s appetite.
Instead of trusting in the catastrophe of today and the terror of tomorrow, God asks you to trust in him. As you continue to to examine your anxiety and what effect it’s had on your life, I ask you to transfer as much trust as you can from anxiety to God. You’ve trusted in your anxiety’s capacity to cause you grief, fear, and stress. Take a part of that trust and turn it over to God. Trust him to be with you through this journey, to know the face of your fear, to be strong enough to help you overcome it and loving enough to deeply desire to help you.
If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or fear in your life, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. For more information, call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.