Stop thinking and stop analysing.
My husband will tell you, I over analyse everything – and think something to death. I view it from this angle, and that angle, and then from another angle. He hates it and he is right. I need to learn to just accept things and not over think or over analyse. It is dangerous to do this.
One of the best quotes I have ever read was:
“Do not over think things – you’ll create a problem where none existed…”
I have such a strong tendency to do this.
Yesterday, I had a wonderful email yesterday that told me God is on my side, that He will fight the battle and that I need to trust Him. Today I get an email telling me I have to confront my fears or keep running, and I start to panic thinking God is telling me to get divorced. God would not do this. He is totally against divorce. I know this because His Word has told me so. Over and over and over again. And so, in the face of my anxiety, I will trust Him. I know that He gave my husband to me and I know that my anxiety is more over the fact that my mother left and I have been conditioned my whole life to be just like her. And I know that I love this man – more than anything. I feel so good being with him. And I know that he is God’s gift to me. I know why God has not healed my from this anxiety – it keeps me praying.
And then I think of my husband reading this blog and I feel so ashamed and so embarrassed, because the last thing on earth that I want to do is to hurt him – I love him and want to protect him at all costs.
I read a blog yesterday where the blogger also battles with anxiety and she says that we need to be careful not to define ourselves by our anxiety. And that is exactly what I am doing. I am allowing myself to be defined by these anxious feelings – instead of moving past that and accepting them as fleeting moments and feelings that come and go.
“Balance begins by knowing how you feel but not being so swayed that you are ruled by every passing incident of anger, worry or resentment.” –Deepak Chopra
Since childhood, I’ve struggled with frequent bouts of anxiety and panic. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if my predisposition to worry began in utero. (As a foetus, I probably worried incessantly about whether or not I was developing properly.) My anxiety has played such a dominant role in my life that, at times, it has become all-consuming.
But I work at it—each and every day. Having spent the better part of my life navigating the rocky waters of my anxiety, I’ve learned a thing or two. And although I know that there are some parts of my emotional makeup that I may not be able to change, I can—and do—view it in a more productive light.
Fact: I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.
Fact: I am not my anxiety and panic attacks.
Though I spent many years believing my anxious thoughts made up the whole of me, I have come to realize the faulty logic behind that notion: Emotions, by nature, move with fluidity—dancing in and out of the mind, carefully orchestrated by the tide that is an ever-evolving state of consciousness. So how can any single emotion define a person?
I now know and expect that throughout my life, I will experience emotional ebbs and flows; some emotions will feel good, some will feel crappy and some will just flat-out trounce me. But they are fleeting; they are not here to stay. Emotions stop in for a visit; hang around for a bit then move on their merry way, making room for the new ones to take their place. Just because I feel anxious, scared, or depressed in any given moment doesn’t mean I’ll feel that way forever. It doesn’t make me who I am.
While I do still grapple with my emotional health, I know that I am making strides towards finding a greater inner peace. I used to define myself by my anxiety. Not anymore. Today I see my anxious ways as part of what makes me who I am today, but not who I am as a whole. There are many characteristics that, today, I use to define myself—and anxious is not one of them: I am kind; I am loving; I am extroverted; I am sentimental; I am blond-haired and brown-eyed; I am (sometimes) funny; I am cautious.
I am not anxious. I am simply someone who experiences anxious thoughts on occasion.
I am many things, but I am not my emotions.
And that is where I need to be. And in order to do that, I cannot analyse every fleeting emotion and thought and cling to it for dear life in case it may mean something dark and sinister that I am hoping to not to confront.
What I need to do is focus on enjoying my life.
And then, one of the most profound blogs I have read, is this:
The solution to a problem is not in its solving
I have been contemplating this notion for quite some time and just a moment ago, it occurred to me, that the way to transcend a problem is not actually done but the process of solving it.
I have found that the more interested I become in the specifics of a problem and the more energy and effort I put into solving it, the longer it takes to overcome. Then, when I realize that the problem is no longer present, when it is no longer an issue, I discover that it came about not by the process of trying to solve it but by getting distracted out of the obsession of dealing with it and trying to find its solution.
This of course ties in directly with the concept that what you give energy to is what you give life to. If you focus on a problem then you will have a problem to solve for as long as you remain focused in that direction, because that is the frequency you are operating on.
This law shall we say, is a completely practical and functional formula that works without fail, all the time and under all circumstances and conditions. It works not by denial of a problem but from the complete removal of all attention to it.
One great example of understanding this concept was displayed in the wise words of Mother Theresa who once proclaimed something along the lines of;
“If I am asked to join an anti-war protest then I will not come but invite me to a rally for peace and I’ll be there”
So, now, I need to give life to my thoughts on my marriage, on me, on my husband. Easy decision to make – not so easy to implement. But I have to.
I am also not going to continue with this blog. I feel too much guilt keeping things from my husband that I know would hurt and devastate him – I need to get a handle on my thoughts, focus on what is good, and share and be open with my husband on what I can without hurting him or my marriage. I have another blog that I will share things on, and I will focus on the good – ignore and rest. And not allow myself to be defined by my anxiety – which this blog is encouraging me to do.
My pendulum theory
This is a theory that I have had since before hubby and I met. In fact, I distinctly recall “coining” this in my mid-teens and I still wholeheartedly believe this theory to be true and accurate. Especially since I have now started to read about this theory in books and on blogs – promise you, I was there first:-).
Anyway, the pendulum theory is quite simple – today I hate Justin Bieber, tomorrow I love him. You see, the pendulum has swung. Okay, not so simple or as clear-cut, but let’s try this for an example – today I am poor, tomorrow I win the lotto and I am rich. The pendulum has swung. Or for the last six weekends, we had functions and activities planned for every weekend, but thereafter nothing. You see the pendulum has swung – weekends filled with lots of activity, then nothing for months. And it will swing back again.
And so it is in life.
You see, hubby and I have always battled financially and I believe the pendulum will swing in our favour eventually. And I believe the reason why the pendulum swings is what you sow into your life. For some people, they may never experience the pendulum swinging in big ways, because they do not sow into their own life in a big way. Let me give you an example, Mr Joe Bloggs goes through the same cycles of life that we all. For a couple of months he is so busy, he can barely keep up with all the social functions he needs to attend. Then for the next couple of months, he has nothing to do. And this is all well and fine – a natural cycle of life, but what Mr Joe Bloggs needs the pendulum to swing for in a big way is to combat alcoholism. You see, Mr Joe Bloggs loves to drink. And drink. When he gets home from work, the first thing he does is to have a whiskey. Or two. Or three. And Mr Joe Bloggs doesn’t care. He doesn’t care that he is a raging alcoholic and doesn’t see why he needs to stop. So, the pendulum is hanging in favour of alcohol, but will never swing back the other way, because Mr Joe Bloggs doesn’t want it to.
Now, let’s compare Mr Joe Soap. He also loves to drink and drink and drink. In fact, he is the life of the party and everyone loves to give Mr Joe Soap some alcohol. In fact, they strongly encourage him to drink, because then the party is so much more fun. However, in Mr Joe Soap’s case, there is this little voice in the back of his head telling him that this is wrong. And that he actually doesn’t want to live his life as the party drunk. And he does care. Somewhere, deep down inside, he cares about his life and what happens to him and being drunk all the time is not where he wants to be in life. So, he starts going to AA and starts to get his life back on track. For the first couple of years, he really battles. The constant desire to want a drink almost drowns out any thought or reason in his life. And although he is almost tempted to give in a number of times, he doesn’t. He carries on battling against his addiction, until one day the penny drops and it all just clicks together. And he feels on top of things – that even though this is a lifelong battle, he has finally reached the stage of “getting a handle on things.” It has taken him many years and many battles and much help from family and friends, but you see – Mr Joe Soap is finally winning the war.
And what is the difference between Mr Joe Bloggs and Mr Joe Soap? Why has the pendulum swung for one and not the other? Quite simply because Mr Joe Soap has sown into his life the desire to want to get well. He cared. And his family and friends cared. And he fought the battle. And now is winning the war. And with alcoholism it may be a war he’ll fight his entire life, but he will succeed because of what he has sown into his life.
Mr Joe Bloggs wants to be an alcoholic and he doesn’t care. The pendulum may never swing for him.
So, hubby and I have always battled financially. Oh, we have made it through from month-to-month, but we have always battled and have never been totally flush, but I believe the pendulum will swing in our favour. Why? Because we are constantly sowing the seeds of wealth, success and prosperity into our lives. How? Well, by working hard, making the contacts and getting a business off the ground. It is hard work, but that hard work and sowing the seeds is exactly what is needed for the pendulum to swing. How long will it take? Who knows? But I do believe that the longer it takes, the harder it swings – the more beneficial the reward. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but I like to have faith.
And even with our marriage. The first nine years – before coming parents – were easy. In fact, they created a solid foundation for us, and people thought we were on honeymoon long after the event was over. However, since becoming parents, things have been stressful (you see, the pendulum had swung). Now, money worries take on even greater significance because we have a little one to take care of, the lack of sleep, the stress in trying to get all done around the house and to raise a child without a support system has made things a little hectic. And as a result, we don’t really have the time or energy to focus on our relationship. And of course, trying to sort out family feuds and politics didn’t help much at all. But, in that, the pendulum seems to be swinging back again.
There was a time in my daughter’s early life where everything was a blur and we didn’t have much time for each other at all. It was hectic – and no sleep was, well, let me just put it this way: I can quite understand why they use lack of sleep as a form of torture in the war. But, all the way through, where we could, hubby and I kept sowing into our marriage. And I think the pendulum is finally swinging back – our little one is sleeping better. We’ve both realised that awful lack of sleep phase was just that – a phase and we’re talking (or emailing) and trying where we can to connect and to reconnect. And we’re trying to focus on each other and fulfilling each other’s needs. Raising kids is flipping hard work and I admire people who do this two, three times over. But, I believe that what we put into our marriage, although we may not always see the results immediately, the seed has been sown and we will reap the benefit thereof. If not now, definitely in years to come.
I have sown many fat seeds into my life by always worrying if I’m going to eat and if I’m too skinny. And I believe the pendulum will swing for me as well as I am constantly sowing seeds of being fit and healthy into my life. I have joined Curves and really trying to eat healthy and better without freaking out about it. And I believe I will reap the benefit of it in time to come.
The key though – for me – is to care. And to never, ever give up.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
My backpack is heavy. It is filled with all these negative emotions of stress, anxiety, sadness, and depression and panic attacks. It is comfortable – it is more comfortable than carrying suitcase around. If you can place it on your back just right, you can carry a sizeable load and almost forget that it is there. You can walk through life carrying this heavy burden from place to place, time to time, friend to friend and only when you are feeling tired and lonely, do you really become aware of the backpack.
I think I’m fortunate in the way that I have taken the backpack off, and I am aware I have taken it off – it’s no longer this heavy load I am carrying, and that is a far way from where I was this time last year. But it’s still there – resting next to my legs, making me even more aware of its presence. It’s this residual anxiety that I am now dealing with. I want the backpack gone. I want it burnt and destroyed. I want it so far removed from me that even if I am tempted to pick it up again, I cannot – because it is no longer in my frame of reference, no longer in my world, no longer a part of who I am. It is only in destroying the backpack and removing it from my world, that I can then begin to remove all residual anxiety, panic and stress.
In fact, I want to destroy this backpack over Europe, while holidaying with my hubby and our little daughter and enjoying a white Christmas and skiing on some beautiful snowy slopes. And then just leave all the anxiety and panic and stress there, when we come back to South Africa so that hubby and I can continue our life without the backpack.
That is what I am praying for – still looking at the poster on the right.
2 Timothy 1:7
King James Version (KJV) 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
New International Version (NIV) 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
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.
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