I decided to check out a stress/anxiety workshop last night. It’s been a stressful few weeks, so I figured that I could use some help. I knew I was in for it when the knot between my shoulder blades twinged painfully when the session started ten minutes late. I shifted around in my chair, impatient.
The presenter started by saying that anxiety is always rooted in fear. I crossed my arms. My smarty-pants self thought, “Great. A waste of time. This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. My stress comes from what other people are doing, not fear.” Oh, by the way… “this guy” happens to be a doctor and a respected professional in the field of anxiety/OCD and is, among other things, a member of the scientific advisory board of the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and the President of the Anxiety Centers of Illinois. Eh-hem.
Slowly, I began to lower my wall of cynicism and really started to listen. He said that the issue could be of the fear of harm physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. After taking some time to think about it, I had to admit, my stress reallywas because of fear… The fear of not being liked, of not being valued, of not doing things right every time. Those fears are all rooted in lies I tell myself. The truth is that I am liked (LOVED, even!), I am valuable, I won’t always get it right and perfection is truly impossible. I remember again how important it is to have true beliefs about myself and about God.
I take a breath and I feel my shoulders relax a bit. The presenter went on to talk about the three main coping mechanisms that people use with anxiety: avoidance, seek reassurance, and distraction. He added that none of those methods truly work to resolve anxiety and stress – instead, they exacerbate the issue! The only way to resolve it, is to face the issue straight on and feel some pain.
So today, I’m choosing to face my fear and tell myself the truth. I am loved. I am valued. I don’t have to be perfect. How about you? What lies have you told yourself? What’s the truth?