Training your heart and feelings
I am still busy reading Emotional Gravity by Angela de Souza. It really is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it (and I am not even half way, yet). And yesterday, I was reading about how if you have a leaning toward a negative emotion, how you need to focus on the opposite positive emotion and to start training yourself to feel, believe and think in that opposite emotion. So, that you can start to have positive feelings, and positive thoughts – and lead a positive life. As Joyce Meyers says,
“You can’t live a positive life thinking negative thoughts.”
Now, I battle with anxiety and fear. For whatever reasons, I do. And I understand all the reasons, and I know how and why I came to be at this point, but none of this has miraculously relieved me of the anxiety and fear that I feel. That is where I feel this book is coming in handy – it is the realisation that I have to control my thoughts, and train my emotions – as if I am training to run a marathon. I cannot give into the anxiety and fear any longer. I need to acknowledge why I battle with this, forgive those that need to be forgiven and now train my mind and feelings.
So, the opposite of anxiety is:
Assurance, calmness, composure, contentment, ease, happiness, nonchalance, peace, tranquillity
So, I need to focus on feeling calm, composed, content, happy, peace and tranquil.
Easier said than done when living with so much financial stress, and working in a very stressful environment and battling family politics, etc, etc, etc…
But, this I can do. Take a deep breath, and allow the calm and peace to flow over you and allow yourself to believe and have faith.
This I can do. I can learn to not have this anxiety that has plagued me virtually my whole life. It is not going to be easy, because I am constantly aware of this anxiety that sits in the corner like a naughty child, just ready to come out and take over.
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
It is too intriguing and thrilling to look at the poster on the left – the force of the negative emotions keeps drawing you back. Looking at the poster on the right, gives me freedom that I cannot yet fathom, nor understand. And negative emotions are so powerful, that I am instinctually drawn to the poster on the left. The one filled with anxiety, panic and negativity. Oh, how I long for the freedom to just walk to the poster on the right and be filled with peace, love, calmness, power and a sound mind.
Today is a bit of battle. You see, I have two anxiety triggers, there are other minor ones but these two can set me off at any time. The first is my marriage – you see, I grew up in a home that had lots of fighting and ugliness, with both my parents threatening divorce as early as I can remember. I lived in that environment for 30 years before they finally did split up (just after I got married). And ever since our daughter was born, the anxiety regarding my marriage has increased ten-fold. You see, I love this man, but I play these mind games – what if I don’t love him, what if he doesn’t love me, what if, what if, what if… When I know – in my heart of hearts, I know that I love him and will never leave him, and want to spend the rest of my life with him. And yet, I still play these games with myself. And you know the result? Well, anxiety and panic. You see, it is much easier to keep looking at the poster on the left. It’s what I’ve inadvertently trained myself to do my whole life. When I can and am able to draw away and look at the poster on the right, I feel great, our relationship goes well, I eat well but then, lurking in the back of my mind are these thoughts that explode into my consciousness, and before I am even aware of it, I find myself gazing longingly at the poster on the left.
My other trigger is eating. When you come from such a stressed filled background, drowned in anxiety and stress, I grew up not eating a lot. Meal times were never pleasant and I am not the type of person to eat under stress – and we were always under stress. We always had this burden of a strained marriage and the pressure of trying to keep things normal (even though we could not articulate that in words when so young). The result was that I was terribly skinny and was teased so much for being skinny, and then your mother taking you to a doctor for anorexia when you have never been on a diet on your life, kind of makes your relationship to food and weight not a healthy one. You see, I had anxiety back then due to the background I grew up in but everyone – even the doctors – looked at the outward appearance and treated me for an eating disorder that I never had. I grew up in a shitty home, with a shitty home life – that was what needed to be looked at. I needed coping skills to cope with the stress and anxiety of what I grew up with. However, now, the whole concept is so messed up in my head, I can’t tell it apart – the anxiety automatically goes with eating/not eating and not eating/eating goes with anxiety. All goes so nicely hand-in-hand…
And these two triggers are so inexplicably linked now. I need to disassociate the two.
I suppose it’s like training for the Iron Man when you’ve never run, walked or cycled in your life. If I have trained my whole life to be focus on the negativity and anxiety, and I’m only now learning HOW to give a voice to these feelings, then I’m not suddenly going to wake up tomorrow and be all positive. I need to train my mind, thoughts, emotions, spirit, subconscious mind, etc to do this – and soon all I will be able to look at is the poster on the right. But, it takes about a year to start from nothing and to train to do a full Iron Man – that is a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180-kilometre cycle, followed by a 42-kilometre run. Actually, I would say it would take about 18 months if you have never done exercise in your life before – hubby took about a year to train, and he is a seasoned athlete who had been cycling and running quite extensively, (he had to start swimming from scratch).
So, I am estimating now, but I would guess it would take even longer to train your mind. Reading the right books and constantly being aware of focusing on the positive are tools you can use to help you train your mind. Prayer also helps, and reading and watching feel-good movies (as opposed to scary thrillers that get the adrenaline flowing), and watching what and how you speak.
So, I guess I can’t be too hard on myself just yet. I just find it odd, on Tuesday I was praying and thanking God that I’ve finally reach the point in my life when I can wake up in the morning and feel so grateful for the life I’ve got, for my hubby and daughter, and ever since then I’ve been battling now to do just that. Odd.
And perhaps all this is coming out now because of all the stress and pressure surrounding our daughter’s birth – which is for another post.
And perhaps I should’ve called this blog, “Peaceful Motherhood” – just perhaps…
Knots in my tummy
No wonder I suffer from anxiety – I had a really crap day yesterday, and without going into too much detail, my tummy feels like it has literally got knots tied through it in many different places (and given that my tummy is quite large these days, that’s quite a few knots, I’ll have you know.)
The thing with anxiety is this: when stress hits, you need to learn to work all those stressful emotions OUT of your system. Otherwise, it’ll just stay put – building up, until you eventually explode. Or panic. So, what did I do? I went to gym – and it actually helped. It’s the first time I did something like that – try and work the negative emotions out of my system, instead of holding on to them, because the power of the feeling really makes one feel alive.
It didn’t last long when hubby and I had a disagreement late last night, and I woke up with more knots in my tummy this morning, but at least now I know that I need to find a release for all these negative emotions. Almost like your exhaust pipe of your car being broken and all those awful gases and fumes going back into your car – so, not good. And that is the same with our emotions – we need to find an outlet, get it out of the system. And I think going to gym last night was a good way to go. And as for my hubby and I last night – well, I think a good heart-to-heart is on the cards for tonight. In the interim, I will focus on work and try work through some of the negative emotions before tonight.
Oh, if only I could’ve always been so wise – its taken me 40 years to learn what I am learning now. And I wish I could just let it go already.
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirits of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The Two Posters
On the second poster, on the right, it says in bright, beautiful colours:
Love, peace, patience, friendship, romance, truth, righteousness, purity, loveliness, faith, admiration…
What do you think will fill your heart and mind if you stare at the poster on the left?
What do you think will fill your heart and mind if you stare at the poster on the right?
For far too long, I have been staring at the poster on the left. I have been filling my heart, my thoughts, my mind with so much negativity by just focusing on all these negatives – fearing the fact that I may be feeling a little anxious, fearing another panic attack, fearing that I am living the wrong life, fearing that I’m not going to eat, that I am going to get sick and die, hiding in shame at the weight I’ve gained and am battling to lose, hiding in shame with my parent’s divorce, feeling overwhelmed by lack of sleep, a stressful job and major financial issues…
No wonder I have been feeling so anxious, with a constant tension of something being wrong, just waiting for that boulder to come down the hill and hit me, or the bus to crash.
If I keep putting so much stress and negativity into everything I say, do, think and feel – then I can quite honestly only expect anxiety, panic attacks, and lots of negativity.
I think it is about time I step away from the poster on the left, take a side step, and start focusing on the poster on the right.
Let me think about all the love in my life and how incredibly blessed I am to have a husband and daughter who love me so much. Or focusing my energies on feeling peace and love. Or injecting some romance into my marriage. Or having some faith that perhaps I am exactly where God wants me to be. Or a little faith that everything will work out just as its meant to in the end, I mean, doesn’t God tell us:
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
And doesn’t He tell us to think properly?
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
I think it is with good reason that the good Lord above has told us to watch our thoughts and our thinking patterns.
As Joyce Meyer says, “You cannot have a positive life thinking negative thoughts.”
Easier said than done – I think we are all prone to be drawn towards the negative. The negative somehow gives us a skewed meaning of life, but makes life feel more real. That is such a lie – I’m just sorry I’m only realising that now as I head into my 40’s. I suppose better late than never…
I need to let go of the “What ifs”? You know… the “what if’s”?
- What if I die tomorrow and there is no-one to look after Baby Girl and Hubby?
- What if I lose my appetite and never eat again?
- What if I have a panic attack? Another one? Again?
- What if I don’t love my hubby as much as what I think I do?
- What if he doesn’t love me?
- What if I get sick?
- What if I can’t work?
- What if we battle financially all our lives?
And people want to know why I battle with anxiety. Yes, seriously. It is these negative thoughts that haunt my dreams and my mind. Things that I cannot control. Things I shouldn’t even try to control. Dr Phil always says, if you’re going to play the “What If” game, you need to play it through to the end. So, well, here goes:
- What if I die tomorrow and there is no-one to look after Baby Girl and Hubby? Well, while of course they will mourn and life will be hard, they will move on. Life goes on. That is the sad reality of death. And all I can do is pray that a woman will come into Baby Girl’s life that will mentor her and look after her and give her guidance and advice and pray for her when she’s feeling scared and lonely. I can never control my own death, but I can look after my health and pray that someone will fulfil that role for me for Baby Girl – IF this should ever happen. And as for my hubby – well, it kills me to say this, but I would want him to meet someone. I don’t want him growing old alone. But, it would have to be someone who will love him and his past with me and respect that I am his first love. And someone who will adore Baby Girl. See – I’m not even sick and there is no need for me to even worry about this, but already I am making plans. The point is, that even though this fear may happen, in the long run, Baby Girl and Hubby will be just fine.
- What if I lose my appetite and never eat again? This is a long and ongoing fear of mine. From years of abuse regarding my weight, I’ve developed a sensitivity to not eating that has seen my grow in size and become rather, uh, large… What if I don’t feel like eating now? Am I going to die? NO – I’ll probably eat later when I’ve calmed down enough to swallow. Its nothing to fear really, but for me it is such a big fear. But, no-one just stops eating unless they are sick. Even people who lose their appetite under huge strain, eventually do start eating again. Even anorexics start to eat – sadly, though too late, but they do try. People have this innate need to survive. So, really, a what if I should never bother to fear. And if I can make peace with this fear, I can lose some weight and start being healthy again.
- What if I have a panic attack? Another one? Again? Seriously, I have been through this more times I can count and I always, ALWAYS come out fine. A bit shaken, a bit nervy, but fine. And if I get my mind right, I can move on from these panic attacks without allowing it to affect me too much. Once again, nothing to fear, nothing to worry about. I have to learn to take the fear out of these panic attacks, because while I still fear panic attacks, it will always have a hold over me. Not fearing panic attacks, frees one to just go on and enjoy what you’re doing. If there is nothing to fear, then I’d probably wouldn’t have another panic attack. But fearing them makes them all too real. And frightening and that fear that holds so much power over me is what brings on these panic attacks in the first place. For me. For you, it may be different. But for me, I know this to be true.
- What if I don’t love my hubby as much as what I think I do? Well, I can’t control what may happen tomorrow. But, for now, I can control how we manage our relationship. And what I feel for him now. And I know that now I love him with all my heart. And I know that underneath all the fear and anxiety, he is the only one for me. So, why fear something in the future that may or may not happen? Who knows – I pretty much fear anything and everything. My point is I only have now to worry about – how I manage my relationship NOW. How I react and love my husband NOW. What type of family life I create NOW. All of this will dictate and pave the path for the future, but I can’t control that outcome – I can only control now. And now? I love him with my whole heart and if I nurture that and maintain that, then this fear will never be realised.
- What if he doesn’t love me? I know how important I am to him. I see all the little things he does for me. How he puts up with my anxiety. How he has stuck with me through all the financial heartache we have experienced, through the lack of support and a baby who cried solidly for the first year of her life.
- What if I get sick? Well, what if I do? We’re on a good medical aid, with some amazing doctors, so what if I do get sick. Or, what if, just for a change, I focus on the fact that I am healthy now. And perhaps I should focus on losing weight and getting fit because then if I do get sick, my body is fighting fit.
- What if I can’t work? Well, hubby and I have already been through so many financial issues that this is almost a no-brainer. Yes, we need both salaries to survive, but we have made it through some really tight financial messes already, I have no doubt that we will find a way to make this work.
- What if we battle financially all our lives? Well, we’ve been battling the last seven years and we’ve been doing okay. In fact, we’re going to send our one and only to a private Christian school, because we both feel that it is just the right school for her.
So, all I have proven is that there is nothing to fear in any of my fears. At all. The trick now is to learn to live all this out. So, that in truth, my life is not governed by fear, but rather by the freedom to enjoy life.
The Anxious Mama