Are you feeling anxious or nervous? Then it’s time for a reality check, and by reality check I mean just that. I’m not saying that what you feel isn’t real emotion and that you aren’t really anxious. Walk with me a minute and I’ll show you what I mean.
When I was in therapy years ago one of the things I suffered with greatly was uncontrollable, irrational thoughts. They were rapid fire thoughts that came so quickly I couldn’t sort them out from my reality. My adrenaline would pump as if the thoughts were true to life and I ended up in an anxiety tailspin. From the age of about 7 until 27 this was how I lived, and it wasn’t “living”, it was nightmarish.
One of the greatest tools my therapist gave me to deal with this type of anxiety was the exercise of asking myself, “What is your reality right now, Becky?” This question alone had the power to stop the rapid irrational thoughts and bring me to a place of here and now. The question begs an answer.
Many times the irrational thoughts I would have had to do with something horrible happening to my children or husband. After learning to ask myself this question, “What is your reality?” I could then walk through the moment and rationalize my thoughts, “Okay, my husband is safe at work, the babies are napping, (and breathing just fine, ) and my big guy is at school.” Sometimes just answering the question alone would bring peace, because knowing the reality, the real answer that everyone is okay, I was able to throw the thought out and move on. Often times though it was a little bit more work to quiet my racing thoughts. I needed to evoke my other senses to help me find reality.
I remembered this exercise about a year ago when helping our daughter work through some anxious thoughts that gripped her in fear. We had to coach her on what she is feeling, seeing, touching, smelling right here and now to bring her back to peace.
Bringing your other senses into play after asking the question, What is my reality?, could just mean taking a deep breath to smell the fresh air or maybe you’ll smell the meal that cooks before you. It could be that you touch something or someone near you, like a soft pillow, or giving a hug to your loved one beside you. It could be that you need to look out the window to behold a beautiful tree or flower that you may have otherwise taken for granted. Whatever it is, however you need to do it, bring your self back to reality, back to the moment. Use the gift of your senses to come back to now.
Anxiety comes in many forms and you may be thinking that because you don’t suffer as I once did that this doesn’t help. But let me ask you, are you worried about your job, and what if you lose it? Are you worried about who your kids will marry, who they’re dating, what college they’ll attend, how you’ll pay for it? How about your teenager who is about to get their driver’s license? Are you anxious about not reaching that goal weight you set, or about your health, or about where a relationship might be headed? The questions of “what if this, what if that?”will never stop coming, but you can take an active role in your own reality check. Bring yourself back to the present.
We are all given good reason to be anxious in this life, it’s never ending. But we are also only given this moment, right now. All He’s given us is right now. What are we going to choose to do and think, right now? And most things we worry and stress and have anxiety over we cannot change the outcome from where we are. Some worries are irrational, as mine were. Some of our worries are very legitimate fears of the future, BUT GOD has given us only this moment. We can only know His presence in THIS moment. We can not know His peace in the future thoughts of our minds, we can only know His peace right now, because that’s all He’s given us.
Matthew 6:25-34 is a great passage of scripture where Jesus clearly calls us to a place of peace and not worrying over our future, but my favorite verse is 6:34. It reads, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” In other words, I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow let alone today, so let’s just do this one day at a time. And for some of us it could be just one moment at a time.
One of my most recent self-talk statements is “Live in the present in His presence”. I say this to myself often because if I choose to roam too far outside of the present moment in my thoughts, I will lose the experience of His presence and that is where I long to be, where I need to be, because that is where I find my reality, where I find His peace.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3