Anxiety and Control: 4 Helpful Steps
In the past 15 days, there has been some kind of unforeseen personal, social, family-life, work-related, church-related or pre-school president-related bomb that has dropped each day. A different kind of bomb, unrelated to the last, every. single. day. One of those days, my 8 year old ran away from home. Granted, it was for 10 minutes...but it was a bomb for the day. The next day was some really hard news about a close friend. The next was an email about a pretty major preschool issue. And I could give you more of my sob story bombs.
Now, bomb seems dramatic. And it is. But it felt like one.
Let's choose a better concept: Speed bump? Hiccup? Issue?
However we're slicing it, it was something that cropped up that could really throw me for a loop. And my usual mode is to react. React by trying to fix the issue. Tinker with the situation. Control the person. Glue it all back together.
Or the reaction of worrying and anxiety.
And that's pretty tiring after a while. If you stay on a rollercoaster long enough, it loses it's appeal. It's actually not so fun anymore. You feel sick and you want to get off.
I like what Melody Bates is saying at the top there. Keep your hands in your own pockets. Take care of what is actually yours to own, and detach from the rest. Surrender. Say things like C'est la vie and begin the practice of moving on. The longer I practice this, the less time I spend in chaotic reaction.
It's that fork in the road moment the minute the bomb drops that I have to weigh my options:
A. Worry. Worry some more. Get really anxious. Start texting a friend to worry at. Get a little crazy in your head and start running down an emotional path toward things that are not facts. Keep ignoring all situational facts and keep reacting in chaos. Start sweating and thinking that you know exactly what others are thinking of you. Right. This. Second. And it just keeps getting crazier, right?
Yuck. Choice "A" sounds terrible. Chaotic Reacting is when you try to control situations or people either by obsessing or trying to fix them. Melody Bates would say: "My controlling blocks God's power. It blocks other people's ability to grow. It stops events from happening naturally. It prevents me from enjoying people or events."
B. Choose Bates' solutions:
1. Learn to recognize when you are reacting, when you allowing someone or something to yank your strings. Usually if you start to feel anxious, afraid, indignant outraged rejected, sorry for yourself, ashamed, worried or confused, something your environment has snagged you. Losing your sense of peace and serenity is probably the strongest indication that we are caught up in some sort of reaction.
2. Make yourself comfortable. When you recognize you are in the middle of a chaotic reaction say or do as little as possible until you can restore your level of serenity and peace. Take a walk. Clean your kitchen. Is there a song that speaks to you? Listen to it. Find a way to emotionally, physically, mentally separate yourself form whatever you are reacting to.
3. Examine what happened. If it's minor, you may be able to sort through it on your own. If it's seriously upsetting you, discuss with a friend to help clear your thoughts and emotions. This is where: "Anxiety weighs a man down, but a good word makes him glad." Proverbs 12:25 comes in. Talk about your feelings and take responsibility for them. No one made you feel. Someone may have helped you feel, but you did your feeling all by yourself. Deal with it.
4. Figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself. Make your decisions based on reality and make them from a peaceful state. Do you need to apologize? Do you want to let it go? Do you need to have a heart to heart talk with someone? Is there another decision to make to take care of yourself? You are not responsible for making others "see the light" and you do not need to "set other people straight." You are responsible for helping yourself see the light and setting yourself straight. Slow down, you don't have to feel so frightened. You don't have to feel so frantic. Keep things in perspective. Make life easier for you.
I'm sure tomorrow's bomb is waiting. Jesus tells his friends that tomorrow has enough worry of it's own. If something is careening it's way toward me, I want to be in the practice of peace-keeping inside my own soul.
I've been telling myself:
"God makes peace in my borders. " (Psalm 147:14)
Slow down. (something my dad has said my WHOLE life...."Slow down, Amy Kabamy")
Keep your hands in your own pockets.
Get out of the way for God to move.
Controlling others doesn't work.
Hopefully this brings a lighter load, a better view, an easier yoke around your neck for the work set before you today. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Jesus