We all face times of anxiety. Sometimes, it is obvious what is causing the anxiety: ice on the roads, a friend in the hospital or a looming meeting at work. At other times, we face anxiety and have no idea why. It is these moments of anxiety I want to focus on today.
When we have no idea why we are anxious, do we take the time to figure out why or dismiss it out of hand? If you are busy like me, the temptation to either, push through it or wait for it to fade, is always there. When I give into this temptation, it creates more anxiety about not dealing with things and letting them build up, becoming a vicious cycle.
I have realized, over time, that it is much more effective and time-efficient in the long run to find the source and deal with it right away so I can move on from it. It does take precious time to deal with these things but the sooner we do the better off we are.
The first thing I do when I start to feel anxious is to ask myself what thought or action caused me to feel that way. Usually, the thought or action was about something I am fearful of. For example, when I am afraid of the unknown or the future, I get anxious when I think of the future because I have no idea what will happen. When I take movements towards the future, once again the anxiety comes flooding in. When the anxiety floods in, I feel paralyzed unable to move, unable to go forward. I freeze. Other people may react in different ways, but I freeze and this causes me to feel stuck.
The answer to my question of the trigger for the anxiety was fear of the future. Then I ask myself when did that fear start? What caused me to doubt that my future has good things in store for me? You see since I was 15, my favourite verse has been Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I believe it to be true, however, there are things that happen in my life that bring doubt and thoughts that are the opposite of this. It is when I start to believe those instead of my favourite verse that I get overwhelmed with fear.
The thing is when I look back over my life, even though there have been obstacles and hurdles to get where I am, my dream of becoming a writer and mentor has been achieved. So I know my favourite verse is true. Circumstances have a sneaky way of dragging our focus to our doubt instead of past evidence to the contrary. Once you know what triggered the fear, it is time to deal with it. I deal with it by reminding myself of the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 and all the success I have achieved so far.
Sometimes, it may be triggered by a fear deeply rooted in the past. Then it is important to go back to what caused the fear in the beginning and deal with this root. This may take others walking through it with you. This may take going back to some of your traumatic moments from your past and healing from them. This may even take some inner healing work, but once you deal with those things the fear that is linked to those things dissipates and the anxiety that was triggered by the fear leaves as well.
I want to leave you with a key thing to remember: Walking in freedom means always seeking freedom in your life, not that you are completely free of everything that could hold you back already. Becoming free is a journey and knowing that is half the battle.