Loving Yourself to Overcome Anxiety
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Anxiety is a common problem in American society, perhaps globally. I have dealt with anxiety over the years and while I have learned to master it most of the time, there are occasions still, where it rears it’s ugly head. Like many people, it leaves an ugly after taste of shame and sadness.
What I have learned as an anxiety sufferer and a Family Therapist is that every feeling and bodily reaction has a corresponding thought behind it. It happens so subtly that we don’t recognize the mind-brain-connection. It takes practice to follow the train of thought and to take back control of your thoughts.
This is part of the spiritual nature of who we are. God created us to be powerful thinking, creative people. Dumbing us down is not the answer. Most of us use medicines and entertaining distractions to avoid thinking as the only tool to self-mastery. This is really body slavery. The appetites rule us instead of ruling our appetites. This results in a vicious cycle of addiction and destructive patterns.
The Truth of the Matter
The truth will set you free! You have to BEGIN to look in the direction of who were designed to be in order to be the architect of your life. ACCEPT the truth that our souls (defined as your mind/will/emotions) are part of our original design and when subject to our spiritual-ness we can put things in right order. When we are in right ORDER, we are in our right minds. Our right minds allow us to rightly control our emotions and bodily reactions.
The bible says it this way: “For God did not give us a Spirit of Fear but of a Power and Love and of a Sound Mind”. 2 Timothy 1:7 (New Heart English Bible)
Wouldn’t you like to stop emotional mood swings? Aren’t you tired of panic attacks and living a fear-induced life? It’s time to get to the truth of the matter.
What You Say About Yourself is Who You Are?
The biggest hang up in anxious thinking is believing that this is our fate. This negative reality is our only reality and others just don’t understand. That latter part might be true, however…Your belief of being stuck in this reality can create the very problem you are wanting to manage. Start catching your anxious thoughts even if you have to stop and re-trace your anxious thoughts. Where, what, who, how, when, why did that anxious feeling first start? Just notice what the situation was that got it rolling. Over time you will discover a pattern of negative thinking that triggers you. There is usually a major root thought that if pulled out of the ground of your mind will give you a sound mind.
If you can’t identify these thoughts, ask someone you feel safe with to help you. It is easier for others to spot them when they are not in the middle of them. Just the act of noticing will begin to give you power over them.
Learning to Love Yourself
God gave us a power to control our thoughts and he gives us Love. Do you love yourself? It’s a missing commandment in the Word of God. Not because it isn’t in the book but because it is missing in our lives. We are ready to love others. We can love things. We are not as good at loving ourselves.
If we are willing to practice what we preach, we must commit to trying without self-judgement. what happens when we practice a new skill, make a new resolution, decide to change, we get discouraged because we don’t get it perfect. Perfectionism is a major root of anxiety thinking!
Choose today, without judgement, to love yourself, your body, your life, your finances (yes, those too), your future with these simply daily practices:
- Use kind words when talking about yourself to others. This is different that learning to talk about yourself when no one is around. That might be a bigger discipline to take on but for now, start referencing yourself with positive comments in social situations. Don’t self-depreciate. If you find this difficult, remember your mothers words: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.
- Notice beautiful things. The bible recommends that we spend time contemplating “whatever is true…noble…right…pure…lovely…admirable…praiseworthy. Think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (New International Version)
- Take care of your body. Your body is a nasty ruler if we let it control our thoughts and emotions. It takes over our will and demands toxic products and doesn’t want to get off the couch. Start eating right, exercising even it is walking around the block, and getting a good nights sleep. No staying up all night and sleeping till noon. This perpetuates the toxic hunger cravings.
- Smile. Research shows that the act of smiling is hormonally equal to a good nights rest but don’t substitute one for the other! Smiling is a known stress buster. Children naturally smile over 400 times a day. How many times do you smile per day. It can even lengthen your life span. Really!
- Say “Yes!”. We have a negative root in our thinking that says its all about saying “no” to bad things. Start saying yes to healthy, wise thinking. Take 40 days to eliminate the work “no” from your vocabulary. Say it now. See, not hard.
- Give yourself a hug. This isn’t creepy. Just hug yourself and lightly stroke the sides of your arms and you picture a place, real or imaginary that, makes you feel safe. This is part of my NeuroResilience Program called “The Safe Place” technique.
- Read inspirational and positive stuff. Turn off the news, cancel the news paper, stop focusing on negative headlines. Take 10 minutes every day to read something that is inspirational and positive. It can be a daily reading book. There are thousands out there. Find an app for your phone that has positive quotes. Listen to positive podcasts. We live in a informationally flooded world. You can control what stress of thought you want to focus on. The old adage: “Garbage in, garbage out” is still true today.
Did you notice that there are 7 ways to love yourself and also 7 days of the week? Coincidence? Maybe, but try a new loving yourself practice each day and then rinse, repeat.
The poet Rumi wrote that “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers without yourself that you have build against it.” Let’s eliminate the barriers to getting back control of your thoughts and living the truth of having a sound mind.
NOTE: Be on the look out for our my new video training series: “Freedom From Anxiety”. Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out. Click here now.