Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Anxiety can be a big nasty. A gigantic shadow casting darkness on our lives. At times it seems ever present. We try to pinpoint the source, but it seems impossible.
It’s tough to fight a battle when we have no idea what we are fighting. Especially if we are to glean any wisdom from Philippians 4:6-7. How can we make requests known to God or pray about our anxieties when they just seem like a mishmash of hazardous weight?
I want to give you some quick tools – simple ways to identify and work on anxiety.
The first step is identifying what anxiety feels like in your body. Maybe it’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Perhaps you begin to sweat or your heart beats faster. It could be that your mind begins to spiral out of control and you cannot stop your thoughts from racing. Maybe it’s a deep sense of tension in your muscles and your bones. Anxiety can look like so many different things.
The next step is to discover when you are feeling these things. During what situations? Is there a certain time of day? Is it when you are rushed? Faced with a new task? Faced with confrontation? When you are alone? When you are reminded of something from your past? The possibilities are endless and unique to every individual…
Create a list of these situations or circumstances. Grade them one a scale from 1 to 10. 10 being that which causes the most anxiety and 1 being that which causes the least.
If we were to tackle all of these at once it would be overwhelming, so I am going to ask you to select one to work on. For example, the one I have chosen to work on is the anxiety I experience when faced with confrontation.
Next we will identify the thoughts we are having when faced with this situation. For me, when faced with confrontation, my thoughts are that people don’t like me, that I did something wrong, that I must be lazy and I am a failure. Confrontation for me is equated with shame.
How do we identify these thoughts? It takes time and practice. You will need to be a thought detective every time you are faced with the situation or circumstance that is leading to anxiousness. Because here is the thing, it’s rarely the situation itself that is causing you to be anxious, but rather your thoughts about the situation.
If I were to think about confrontation in a different way, that someone is merely trying to make their needs known to me and perhaps they just need to relay information, I would not have the anxious reaction that I do.
Once we identify these thoughts we can work on them by deciding if they are true or untrue. And if they are untrue we can replace them with truth. We can pray and submit our thoughts to scripture. We can ask the Holy Spirit to come in and teach us His perfect peace. For me, I am going to remind myself that God brings correction and confrontation into my life for my benefit, that all of us make mistakes, and that mistakes do not mean I am a bad, wrong, or lazy person.
The word God gives us in Philippians to be anxious for nothing is not so we can choose to numb our worries or try to block them out, because that is practically impossible. The way to be anxious for nothing is by bringing ourselves, including our thoughts and emotions in line with His truth. When we can pinpoint specific situations that make us anxious we can bring them to Him in prayer, evaluate the thoughts behind them, and then turn our hearts to praise. This is how we discover the peace that guards our hearts and surpasses our skewed understanding.
Try some of these things. See if they work, and then think about sharing in the comments. I would love to read how God is transforming your heart and mind.