Anxiety is something that we will all face in life. The causes of anxiety and the solutions for dealing with this common problem will vary from person to person. Listen in to Episode 19 as I discuss this topic.
Episode 19: Podcast Outline
- Normal Anxiety
- Clinical Anxiety
- Trying to be Sovereign Anxiety
- Self-Inflicted Anxiety
- David on Anxiety
- Solutions for Anxiety
Good morning! Welcome to Valley of Grace’s Healing Our Brokenness podcast. Today, you are listening to Episode 19: Anxiety!
Picture this scene: I was in 7th grade, and at the time, I enjoyed competing in oratorical contests for fun. However, because my mother was a single parent, and had to work, she was never able to come to see me compete. I should have been grateful that she was working. However, I got caught up on her being there. She finally decided to come. However, she forgot to forewarn me. I was on the stage, and she waved to show me that she was there, and my mind went blank after the first two lines. I could hear my words trembling, and feel my whole body shaking intensely. She hadn’t done anything wrong, but my lack of preparedness for her coming totally threw me for a loop.
When we hear the word anxiety, all kinds of thoughts come to mind. Anxiety is normal in certain cases. For example, recently I was waiting for the test results from a mammogram, and as I was listening to the person on the phone, I became anxious as I proposed what her words would be and how I would react to them. Anxiety can sneak upon us as we get ready to take a quiz, and it can cause us to forget everything that we were going to say.
Anxiety can be debilitating. This type can often be hereditary and would fall under the column of anxiety disorder. That means that if our grandparents and parents have suffered from anxiety disorder, then it is a high chance that we could be dealing with the same issue. When we suffer from this kind of anxiety, it is something that we had no control over.
Trying to be Sovereign Anxiety
There is, however, another kind of anxiety that I am going to discuss. This type of anxiety is from the things that we place on ourselves. Examples of this is trying to fix problems that we don’t have control over. We try to control our adult children and the mistakes that they make in their lives. There is a desire to control whether or not people will accept or reject our uniqueness.
We try to control whether the job that we have had for over 15 years will be the job that we retire from. Do you control the discipline that God gives to a family or friend in regard to their sin, and in the process, we began to enable the individual? When we try so hard to control, it only makes us more out of control. This eagerness to control creates an addiction within itself. This is what the devil doesn’t tell us. We don’t know until it’s too late.
Another type of anxiety that we place on ourselves is that of making changes for the sake of coming out of vicious cycles. For example: Stacy notices that she has an anxiety attack every morning in regard to getting out the door and getting to work. Reasoning: Every morning Stacy stays in bed until 30 minutes before it’s time to leave to go to work. She has to rush to put makeup on, get her breakfast, and pack her lunch. Stacy knows what is behind this problem, but she fails to make the changes. Stacy is self-sabotaging.
Scheduling is another type of self-inflicted anxiety. This is the area that I am guilty of, and starting to make progress in. We pile as much as we can into a given day. The more things we keep adding to that list, the more things will be added to our list of anxiety about. The first thing that we don’t consider is exactly how long it will take to get each thing done. There are only so many hours in the day.
If we work outside the home, those hours are shortened. Unless we are God, there is no way that we can get all those things done, but we try. Sometimes it is possible to get those things done, but we have used this time up on social media, or doing a little bit too much relaxing, only to start the vicious cycle all about again.
The last type of anxiety that I would like to discuss is that of trauma-induced anxiety. Unfortunately, this kind is one that I am very familiar with. One kind of trauma anxiety is created from having to be in hypervigilant mode all the time. The other part of trauma anxiety that I have noticed for myself is that I might have a flashback or a trigger of something.
Then, what happens is that my mind may start to think about the details and feelings that this event caused. I push the thought away, thinking that maybe it is unimportant, only to realize later when it resurfaces, and continues to occupy my emotional and mental space, that it is something that I need to deal with. However, since trauma wants to be in control, it will cause you to start self-protecting, and then rationalizing why you shouldn’t talk about this thing.
You think you’ve somehow outsmarted trauma, but it outsmarts you because when this event keeps coming up, it usually causes anxiety to go from 0 to 1000 in your body, while the flashbacks are occurring, and what you don’t realize is that avoidance of discussion of this event is keeping the physical energy in your body, and delaying the healing at the same time.
I learned this the hard way when I tried avoiding talking about seeing my father abuse my mother in our apartment as a kid. I kept delaying and delaying, scratching off on my therapy notes, and saying, “Nope, not this week!” Weeks turned into months, and then finally when I couldn’t take it any longer and started feeling the impulse of swinging and punching at its peak, I did the best thing that I could do. I talked about it with my therapist. It got worse before it got better.
Now, when those feelings come up, I pretend like I am kickboxing in order to release the energy from my body. Before discussing this event with my therapist, I would zone into worship music to calm the impulses. What I didn’t realize is that the energy needs to leave your body.
We ask God to help us with all kinds of things. However, we forget to ask him to help us with anxiety, and to get to the root. In Psalms 139 David reminds us about how God knows everything. We can’t hide anything from him. His presence follows us.
God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
139 O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.
Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,
And the night will be the only light around me,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You,
But the night shines as bright as the day;
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
[a]O that You would kill the wicked, O God;
Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with perfect and utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
What are some helpful ways to reduce anxiety?
- Taking a deep breath in and out
- Meditating on worship music
- Sometimes medicine, along with everything lifted above.
I pray that you have heard something here today that has been helpful.
For last podcast episode, click here.