(original artwork by Be A Heart Design)
I've started a little thing on Instagram - Gratitude Tuesday. Gratitude has become my best medicine for anxiety.
I use two main tactics when anxiety tries to creep in.
1) I have a discussion with the anxiety and tell it that "I don't actually do anxiety any more." My brother read this book along with all of his friends to stop smoking. It's called "Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by Allen Carr. It was amazing to watch from the outside. I watched Alex struggle for years trying to quit smoking. It would barely last a few days. But then this book changed everything (and not only for him, but all of his friends, too). He was telling me one evening,
You see, I've always said that I'm quitting smoking, so when I'm out and someone offers me a cigarette, I say I'm quitting and take it. It's not definitive. The change now is that I have to identify as a non-smoker. If someone asks me if I want a cigarette, I say I don't smoke. This gives no option to smoke.
A few days later, in prayer, I began wondering if this would work for my anxiety. Could I quit anxiety? For so often it has seemed like a drug. I identified with it. I am an anxious person. But after years of this, I was absolutely exhausted and ready to unidentify with it. Just as my brother was ready to no longer be a smoker even though for years it was a part of his identity.
It still amazes me when it works. All this time, I've been allowing the anxiety to rule me instead of me ruling it. It seemed like it just was and I had no say over its existence. That was all just a lie.
2) Much of my anxiety stems from worry/fear. I fear where the money will come from, I worry that I'll never encounter a man who likes me as much as I like him, I fear that I'm not doing enough, I worry about what others think of me, etc etc etc. Much of my anxiety stems from the comparison of my life to others. So first, I tell it to go away and second, I make a list of what I am grateful for. This came to me in yoga a month ago. I was all wrapped up about something I wanted and couldn't have. I was stuck in myself. And that quote resurfaced in my thoughts: the root of joy is gratefulness. I made a list of all the things I am grateful for. And my goodness!! I had enough. I was enough. I didn't need to be anywhere or anyone that wasn't in that moment.
In an attempt to be proactive, I made this notepad to list what I'm grateful for every day. I wanted to hold myself accountable, but even more so, I just wanted to remember. (Have of my spiritual maladies come because I just simply forget.) Joy really does come from gratefulness. It comes from recognizing the abundance in my life and seeing that all will be well.