When was the last time you had an anxiety attack? Some of you may have a specific answer to that question. Others may just deny that they have ever even had one. I would venture to declare, however, that almost all of us have had one. Recently.
So, to clear up your confusion and to help you to understand when you or a friend is experiencing an anxiety attack, here is the basic idea of an attack. According to dictionary.com, an anxiety attack is “an intense attack of anxiety characterized by feelings of impending doom and trembling, sweating, pounding heart, and other physical symptoms.” Although I have personally not really experienced an extreme anxiety attack or really seen many of the physical symptoms of one in my life, I have definitely felt the feelings associated with one.
So, maybe the better question is when was the last time you had anxious thoughts or feelings? Your answer may even be that your last anxious thoughts lasted while you were reading the definition in the previous paragraph. ;P Whatever the answer, none of us can deny that we have actually experienced this painful and problematic anxiety.
I am definitely an expert in the field of anxiety. No, I haven’t done years of study on the subject. But, I have years of experience with the subject. Worry and I have a long and rough history. And, on many days, it feels as if worry is also clouding my future.
I have made many mistakes in my life. I have definitely procrastinated and wasted hours of time. The ultimate end of those hours is Failure. And, I have experienced way too much of that in my life. Those failures still plague me with regret and dread.
However, with those failures, came a response. I responded with worry. Worry that I would fail an assignment before I even started it. Worry that I would continue this pattern of working forever. Worry that I was a failure.
But, as I was worried about my worry, I realized something. I am not a failure. So, I will not continue this pattern of working forever. And, I will start my assignments so the chances of me failing them are almost non-existent.
So, 1: You are not a failure!
Every single worry is tied to this information. We view ourselves in such a negative light that we practically expect ourselves to fail. And as we view ourselves in this light we end up worshipping ourselves and our “disabilities”. But, we are no gods and we do only have challenges that need to be overcome. So, we are not failures because we are not gods. So, how could we define ourselves by these minuscule mistakes?
You are not what you do!
I cannot tell you how many times I have said that statement to myself and to my friends recently. It is crazy just how many times we place so much pressure on ourselves because we view ourselves as masters of our own destinies and so decide that we must do things to give ourselves value!
Our identities are tied not to the things we do or the ones we don’t do. They are simply tied to the fact that we have been created to be loved by God! So, when our identities are not about what we do, we are not failures! We are all uniquely created in the image of God with great potential through Him in us that is daily being redeemed by Christ! We are loved! We are important!
At the same time, however, our actions do have consequences. They don’t define us but they create results in our lives. So, we must not continue patterns of lifestyle that are not healthy.
Instead of feeling anxiety or worry, a much better response to failure and regret is to change your habits and patterns. Being proactive is arguably the best gift you can give yourself.
Here is the reason we aren’t able to do this. Since we define ourselves by what we do, we hate admitting that we have wrong habits, to begin with. Then, we would be challenging our whole view of ourselves! So, instead, we lie because we are all master liars. We tell ourselves that what we are doing isn’t all that bad or that it is actually healthy! So, we must recognize and reconcile the fact that we do have terrible habits.
Next, we may still feel anxiety at the thought of changing these habits. The reason for this is that we may feel failure here as well. What will happen if we never actually reach our goals? The answer is nothing. Change is a process. Where you are in the process doesn’t define you although being further along in the process can be helpful to you. Change is change. So, with the viewpoint of being on a journey, being on the right track is the key!
I have struggled with procrastination for a really really long time. However, recently, I suddenly realized that I could see huge leaps in the amount I procrastinated! It was a journey to get here and I know it will be a journey as I continue changing. It can be discouraging but don’t give up!
Lastly, be practical. I have a tendency to be overly ambitious. I would venture to say that many of us are! However, this ultimately leads to us never reaching our goals and disappointment. So, instead, breaking up your goals into smaller goals that you can slowly but surely work through.
Honestly, the last part is rather simple but it is the most important part. As we have already established, you aren’t defined by what you do! (I hope I have repeated this enough!) So, you don’t have to worry! You can begin now. Start changing. Start creating new patterns. Start growing!
We all struggle with worry. But, don’t worry! There is hope! You are not defined by any of this! You are defined by a God who loves you because of who He is. The identity He created you with is redeeming the broken pieces inside of you into something beautiful. So, chin up. And, begin!