Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude.

Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude

Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude

(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 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.

You can get the notepad or the gratefulness pack for yourself over in my shop!

The Importance of Staying in the Moment.

I found a tiny sketch notebook in the back of my desk drawer the other day and pulled it out to take to watercolor class. I flipped it open to make sure it was blank and found only the first two pages written on. I'm not sure what age I was when I wrote this, but I'm going to guess I was about 12 or 13 (so about 13 or 14 years ago--my life span has doubled since then).

future

I had written the names of my future children and the amount of years between each child (and the fact that my second pregnancy would bring me twins).

My favorite part is the last note. I was to be married by 24 or 25 and I would be doting a child by 26. Not to mention I would not have any children after the age of 34 when my oldest child would be 8 years old. WHAT?!

I'm noticing now how I color coded the kids as well (pink for girls, blue for boys). Somewhere on my computer, I have a power point telling about my "future." I recall that I had included where I would go to college, the school where I would teach, the church where I would be married, the colors of my wedding, my wedding and bridesmaids' dresses and a similar list about my children (clip art babies included).

My goodness! This left no room for God's plan for my life. I wonder how hard he laughed at these extravagant plans that I made. None of that has come true. I went to a different school, I didn't become a teacher, I am already 26 and don't have any prospects of marriage and I'll be lucky if I'm having my first child by 34.

My child mind could not even fathom what was ahead of me. Instead of children every few years, I've gotten to experience new cities every few years. Instead of wedding colors, I've chosen website colors. Plus, those names... don't worry future children, I will not be naming you any of those names.

So I have been really contemplating what it means to live in the moment because it seems to be a waste of time to think so far in the future. The possibilities are endless and my small human mind cannot even fathom what lies ahead of me.

Not to mention that anxiety generally accompanies me when I live in the "what ifs" of the future. I wonder where the money will come, what I'll be doing, if I'll meet a man ever to have a family with. God asks me to turn to him. To seek his will.

It makes me think of this verse, Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice- in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness- should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I struggle knowing what to think about instead of the future, but maybe this is the answer--think about all the things that are worthy of the praise, all the things that I am grateful for! That will surely keep me in the moment.

Because in the end, 7 months ago, I couldn't even imagine that I would be running my own business full time and have enough food to fill my belly. So instead of investing my thoughts in the future, I will invest them in praise of my God who has far better surprises for my life than I could even dream.