My Journey with Anxiety

I had my first panic attack in August 2009. The previous two years were by far my busiest to date. It all started with my decision to leave the television studio job I had worked in since graduating from college six years prior. It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave and resulted in a series of changes that continued on for several years thereafter.

First, I started working a new job full-time in conjunction with starting full-time graduate school, where I studied Clinical Psychology, a subject I had no prior experience in. Additionally, I started dating a guy who would later become my fiance and then husband, all within the span of 17 months. We got married during Christmas break and came back from our honeymoon the day before I started my last semester of grad school (which also happened to be the same day we moved into our new apartment together). Our lives were blissfully chaotic. Grad school was filled with the difficult task of self-reflection throughout the many papers we had to write, along with being required to participate in 30 hours of personal counseling. I quit my job and started another part-time job where I got to work in the field I was studying and completed practicum hours doing therapy on college students, an equally draining and exhilarating experience. Life just didn’t stop moving. Days, weeks and months were long – good yet long – and at the same time, they flew by.

In August of 2009, my body, mind, emotions, they all gave out on me. Out of the blue I started experiencing panic attacks. If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you know that the effects are continually compounding. You not only deal with the panic itself, but you also must face the fear that another one might occur. Will you be out in public and begin to panic? Would you begin to feel trapped in the middle of a conversation and start to panic out of the blue?

A panic attack is a physiological response to an emotional stressor. For many, the stressor is identifiable – perhaps a fear of flying could bring on a panic attack. Or public speaking. Or a social situation. For me, the panic never fit the situation. It would occur at times I otherwise felt perfectly safe. I would panic among the company of close friends or coworkers. Or out grocery shopping, something I in no way feared or dreaded. They came out of no where.

I ultimately realized they were the result of an accumulation of two years worth of stresses I hadn’t dealt with. I never grieved the loss of a job I held during the formative years of my working life. I never grieved the loss of my singleness, something I had yearned for years to part with and yet once I did, I found myself missing at times. I never slowed down long enough to appreciate my newlywed status because the moment the honeymoon was over, it was back to the grind again.

Accepting change has never been my strong suit. But at no point in my life have I dealt with it in the way I did that summer of 2009.

My panic attacks lasted about a month. My boss, a pastoral counselor, felt I needed a time of rest after the chaos of the previous two years. She gave me a week off work with pay so I could unplug from the world and take it easy. I gladly took her up on it. I also decided, after much resistance, to try an anti-anxiety medication. I have suffered from anxiety my entire life but I had always been able to manage it. It never stopped me from participating in anything – work, relationships – anything. But the panic attacks scared me. They began to make me doubt whether I wanted to leave the house. Home felt safer. Home wasn’t scary. I never had a panic attack there so it was still a safe place. But as grateful as I was that home was my safe haven, becoming a hermit was not me. I missed getting outside and hanging out with friends and quite frankly – being happy.

The medicine started kicking in after a few weeks and I began feeling like myself again. When I look back on that time in my life, it feels like such a small blip on the radar but back then it was the hardest thing I had ever dealt with. It wasn’t all bad though. I can see that now. For one, it  deepened my husband’s and my relationship early on. It also changed me forever. It changed my perspective on mental illness. The fact that I have always been a worrier and tend to see the world through “poop-colored glasses” as my hubby tells me, is a direct result of my anxiety. It’s nice to have a name for the nebulous, negative feelings I have always known were within me. I have also adopted a new understanding of the benefits of psychotropic drugs. Why they are viewed differently than any other medicine that assists with chronic illnesses is beyond me. When I got on them to alleviate my panic attacks five years ago, they benefited me far beyond the isolated attacks. They also helped regulate my generalized anxiety. I stopped obsessing over things that were out of my control. I found myself viewing the world more positively. They increased my overall sense of well-being and I felt differently than I had my entire life.

I stayed on the anti-anxiety meds for two years, at which point I decided to wean off them. I knew that having a child could potentially bring up new dimensions of both specific and generalized anxiety and told my OBGYN before Ainsley was born that I may request a prescription again at some point. Shortly after A’s six month birthday I made that request. I have stopped obsessing over the many possible things that could happen to Miss A – choking, getting sick, being in an accident etc. I feel free from the trap that is anxiety – a straight jacket I have lived in for so many years.

It is also extremely important to me that I don’t pass on my anxiety to her. Sure, she may inherit it genetically, but the last thing I want to do is freak out about every little thing she does and cause her to become overly fearful in life. I pray that she views life as an adventure – full of opportunity, not obstacles, and that she does not become stuck playing and replaying worrisome thoughts in her head. That she would dream of the possibilities in her future and not dread change like I do. I desire to be the best mom I can be and that means being the best person I can be – optimistic, encouraging and ideally, not a helicopter parent, a role I would likely fall into quite naturally if left to my own devices.

Recently Jake sent me an article he found online about secondary drowning risks for kids. We hadn’t heard of it and were surprised to read the warnings as summer approached and we eagerly awaited going swimming with our daughter. He told me after he sent it that he was shocked at how well I responded, thinking I would mull it over constantly and catastrophize each cough or other incident A might experience in the pool. I have to admit, I did handle this new found knowledge well. There are plenty of scary things that could happen in this world but there are plenty of beautiful things too. I am going to choose to focus on those instead.

My sweet baby covered in a rash from her amoxicillin allergy. We conquered her first double ear infection, 102.7 fever and rash. Go us!

My sweet baby covered in a rash from her amoxicillin allergy. We conquered her first double ear infection, 102.7 fever and rash. Go us!

The themes of our lives…

I’ve been noticing a reoccurring theme in my life recently. This has happened before where a conversation, will spark a memory of something I read the previous week, and perhaps heard in a sermon that weekend or overheard at work or all of the above. You catch my drift. It’s the same message over and over from, like, 10 different sources.

Be present.

As per my normal M.O., when I first noticed this, I immediately began to think of everyone in my life that needed to ponder that phrase “be present.” The message I was receiving though, loud and clear, was that I was the one that needed to consider it. Just me. Sigh.

If you have been reading Habit-Forming Success for a while, you have probably picked up on the fact that maintaining a calm demeanor in periods of high-stress or transition is not my strong suit. It’s ironic actually that I can sit in a room with someone else talking about their anxieties and be perfectly fine; even having something to helpful to offer in the process. But “therapizing” myself? Much more difficult.

Being present and consistently feeling anxious are completely contradictory. The most common phrase you’ll ever hear an anxious person say is what if? What if is all about the future and everything that could potentially go wrong. It takes you out of  the present and moves you into a world that has not yet occurred.

So message #11 in my life on the topic of being present is below, written by a very wise and insightful guy, who also happens to be one of the pastors at my church. Something more to think about…

I admitted to feeling occasionally very angry to a friend a few days ago. He responded, “. . .anger is a product of fear. What do you fear?”

It’s a great question. In the midst of feeling like something outside ourselves needs to change, or else, what if we sincerely asked, “what am I afraid of?”

Anxiety is very rarely based on something that IS happening. It’s always what might happen. What happened long ago that we don’t want repeated. What should be happening but isn’t. In truth, there’s nothing less present and alert to the reality of this moment than anxiety. We bring it into adulthood from the ashes of childhood. It serves as a shield against the threat of pain – with the unfortunate side effect of shielding against joy in the bargain. After time, fear normalizes. As though becoming part of our DNA, a mutation from longterm exposure to our family’s non-specific, general angst. It doesn’t do anything helpful. Much the opposite. But we’re so used to having it we can’t imagine life without it.

“…the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” -James 1:20, NASB  

Faith in Christ is as much about disbelief as belief. And today Christ invites you and I to disbelieve our fear and anger. To become at least skeptical about the efficacy of being upset. I’m persuaded that Christ isn’t trying to get us “righteously angry”, or upset about right things versus the silly things of our former life. Christ invites us into freedom, and free people have no fear. Free people don’t argue to get others to agree or conform. Free people aren’t angry, because they understand what Dallas Willard understood; “There is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.” (The Divine Conspiracy).

Here’s to freedom.

Here’s to peace. 

Steve Daugherty

Teaching Pastor

 

 

Day 15 – Anxiety and our thoughts

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I have a passion for helping people who struggle with anxiety. I have dealt with my own difficulties with this in the past so it is important to me to try to pass along some of my own learnings to others. Today we’re going to address how our thoughts are connected to our anxiety.

I’d like to keep this brief since there is a lot of information already on this site in the Anxiety Series. I do feel it’s worth mentioning again though because our thoughts play such a huge role in our anxious feelings. Let’s look at a few of the ways they are linked:

1) Rumination – Yesterday’s topic, rumination, was described as a potential cause of depression but it can also create anxiety. If you’re spending an entire day or evening going over and over again in your mind a small mistake you made earlier in the day, it is likely highly if you aren’t feeling “down,” you’re feeling anxious. I have done this myself. Earlier in the week I accidentally forgot a coffee date with a friend and stood her up! I felt terrible! I apologized of course but it kept crossing my mind repeatedly throughout the night causing a great deal of anxiety until I finally, intentionally, decided to let it go.

2) What If? – There is a post about this in the Anxiety Series. Are you someone that always thinks about the “What Ifs?” What If’s are a huge cause for anxiety, as your mind absolutely spirals considering all the bad things that could potentially happen in a given situation. Yes, bad things can happen and they do happen sometimes. But worrying about every little thing that could go wrong won’t prevent them from happening nor will it give you any more control over the situation. It will only create stress and anxiety!

3) Do you focus a lot on what you don’t want or don’t have? Of course it’s good to have an idea of what we do and don’t want out of life. That helps provide structure and boundaries so we don’t say yes to everything but rather focus on that which really matters. However, if you spend the majority of your time concerned about everything you’re trying to avoid in life or prevent from occuring, you’re gonna miss what IS happening NOW. One of the major struggles for people dealing with anxiety is an inability to live in the present!

Like I said, I am gonna keep this brief. If you are interested in reading more about anxiety, check out the Less Anxiety in 21 Days on this blog. Topics include: types of anxiety, strategies to reduce anxiety, personal stories and more!

Questions? Comments?

Day 12 – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

We have covered a lot of material so far in this series so I want to veer away for a bit and break things up. Rather than continuing to delve into what healthy thinking looks like (and doesn’t look like) let’s remember why we’re even thinking about this stuff. It’s because we want to live long, meaningful lives right? We are trying to grow ourselves personally so we can become healthier people and make positive impacts on the lives of others.

Courtesy of Josephine Tesauro

So… today I want to affirm that by sharing a BBC News article on the benefits of positive thinking. Research is being done which reveals that worrying less could lead to a longer life! Not only is that great news but I can also promise that you will feel better every single day if you stop worrying.

Take a look at the article and let me know if you have questions or comments! Enjoy the weekend and I’ll see you next week!

Day 6 – Taking a closer look…

We’ve covered a lot of information in just five days. I hope it’s been helpful. Today we’re going zoom in on the thoughts we’ve already gone over and take a closer look at what went wrong. Research shows that thinking happier, healthier thoughts makes a difference in our overall well-being. But it’s a lot easier said than done. If you’re absolutely furious about something or in the midst of a panic attack and just casually tell yourself to think of something happy, it’s going to be quite difficult, if not impossible. But, if you can get a handle on the types of thoughts you’re prone to thinking and understand how they relate to your intense emotions, you will begin to gain control. As with most things, this is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but by practicing, you’ll notice your anxiety, anger, intense emotions etc. begin to decrease in difficult situations.

Think back to the last time your emotions got out of control (whether mildly or severely). Did you record your ABCs? If not, just think back to what they were…

A) What happened?

B) What did you think?

C) What did you feel/do?

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Let’s focus on (B), since this is a series on Healthier Thinking and all… Now that you know the thought(s) that went through your head, we’re going to examine them. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Can you prove that your thought was 100% true?

2) Was it extreme in any way (i.e. did it include such words as “always,” “never,” “all,” “nothing” etc.)?

3) Were your thoughts perpetuated by how you felt at the time?

4) Was your thought logical?

5) Is there any evidence that exists that does not support what you thought?

Those are just a few to get you started. This may seem tedious but it will be really difficult to gain control of your thoughts if you don’t take a closer look and begin to understand what really happened.

After you do that, the next step is to:

Think of an alternative to the unhealthy thought.

  • Is there something more accurate you could think?
  • If your friend was describing a thought like this, what would you say to him/her?
  • When you are not in the situation that prompted the thought, what might you normally think?
  • If your thought was extreme, is there something more balanced to consider?
  • Thinking back on the past, was there a time when a similar situation was handled differently? What can you gain from that memory?

Now that you have an alternative, how do you feel? Has the intensity of your emotions decreased at all?

Okay… I think that’s enough. Are you sick of ABCs by now? :) Well, I can’t guarantee we’re completely finished with them but we will move on a bit tomorrow. See you then!

Day 5 – Bad is not always… well, bad

Today we’re going to address that other negative thinking pattern I mentioned Friday… the one that’s worthy of an entire day all to itself… Here it is:  

Although it may not feel like it sometimes, even the seemingly intolerable is actually tolerable.

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Let’s dig into this a bit:

For the conflict-avoiders out there, the idea of having someone mad at you feels like the worst thing ever. At the slightest sign that tension may be brewing, you immediately imagine the worst case scenario in your mind. What if we never make up? What if he breaks up with me? What if my boss never respects me again or even worse, keeps me from being promoted? If a friend is mad at you, you might think “oh no, she’s going to tell people and everyone is going to be mad at me” etc. The idea of being in conflict with anyone just feels awful.

So you end up behaving in such a way, that you do everything in your power to avoid conflict. You become a “yes man” (or woman). You lose your sense of self trying not to offend anyone. You get taken advantage of at times because you always put your own needs aside to meet the needs of everyone else. You even become resentful because it seems like no one ever cares how you feel or what you want. While the idea of conflict feels terrible the truth is, the outcome of avoiding it, can be even worse.

To put the above in ABC terms, it looks like this:

A – You’re in a conversation with someone and begin to express your point-of-view. You see that the person you’re talking to doesn’t necessarily agree and temperatures begin to rise.

B – You think to yourself “Oh no, he seems really mad. I am probably wrong anyway. What am I doing”?

C – You start to get anxious because his face is getting red and he’s pacing back and forth. You decide to cave and tell him he’s probably right. You’re not really sure anyway. It’s not a big deal. “Phew, we’re back on good terms.”

What is comes down to essentially is a low pain tolerance, only the pain is emotional instead of physical. The idea of experiencing:

* Weirdness * Discomfort * Tension * Awkwardness * A fight * The cold shoulder * etc. feels unbearable.

So how do you overcome this:

1) Push yourself to do what makes you uncomfortable. Like I mentioned in the last post, there’s a lot of good that can come out of difficult situations, like conflict. Even though while it’s being experienced, it feel simply terrible. You feel alone and sometimes doubt that you did/said the right things. But, once you work through it, your relationships can grow stronger through that difficult experience. To always avoid, keeps things on a shallow level.

2) Think back on hard times that have passed and remind yourself how you survived. Did God show up in and comfort you in unique ways? Did a friend emerge who could totally relate to your experience? Were you able to utilize your own personal resources to find a way through the situation?

3) Be careful what you think. If you tell yourself that whatever you’re dealing with is absolutely unbearable, you’re going to continue believing it. If you tell yourself you can get through it, you can. It may not be easy still. You may struggle though it, but you will survive and you’ll be stronger for it.

Finally, on a personal note… I experienced one of the worst tragedies I could have ever imagined this year when I lost my mother-in-law to an unexpected heart attack. She was a rock for my husband’s family and gift to everyone she met. The thought of losing anyone I loved seemed unbearable to me, but especially someone I loved and respected as much as her. But then, the unbearable happened. Yet I am still here, fully functioning and believe it or not, still living each day with joy and purpose. My husband and I have talked about how weird it is to realize that life has continued on and we are still happy despite this loss. We never would have thought it was possible.

You can tolerate what you think is intolerable. But, what you think plays a big part in how you feel and how you act. So think like a survivor.

See you tomorrow!

Day 4 – You are not the center of the universe!

There are a couple other errors in thinking that are worth spending extra time on. So I am going to spend an entire day of the series on each. I did not talk about them in the anxiety series so don’t tune out!! :)

Today’s topic is about personalization. Essentially, it’s when we interpret events that occur as having a direct relation to us, even when they have nothing to do with us at all.

So for example…

Your boss is having a bad day and seems to be avoiding contact with people. You ask her a question at one point and she snaps back at you. You assume her mood must be about you somehow… did you offend her? Did you mess up on your most recent work project? You feel guilty and ashamed because you just know you must have done something wrong.

-or-

Your husband tells you he is stressed out and nothing you say is making him feel any better. You feel guilty because you can’t cheer him up. You think to yourself “If I was a good wife, I would be able to help in some way. I am letting him down.”

In both of the above examples, the situation has nothing to do with you! Let me repeat: nothing to do with you! You may feel like it for some reason but that doesn’t make it true. Each person is having their own isolated experiences in these instances and you have nothing to do with either. And yet, sometimes, and we all do this, we make assumptions that we are somehow at fault for what other people are dealing with.

So how do we change this?

1) We need to realize that there could be another side to the story.

Is it possible that your boss’ bad mood has to do with the big budget meeting she had that morning? Or, maybe you had heard that she and her husband are going through a rough patch in their marriage and perhaps they just got in a fight. There are many possible explanations when people are in bad moods or stressed out and unless you can think of a clear-cut reason that they may be upset with you, it most likely has nothing to do with you at all.

2) Even if it is about us, so what?!

I don’t say this to be insensitive or to act like offending others is not a big deal. However, many of us who fall into this negative thinking trap, do not like conflict. In fact, we avoid it at all costs. So, the very thought that someone’s behavior towards us is anything less than “normal” brings up a lot of fear… the fear that they may not like us or we may be as close as we used to be or we may be in a fight now etc. This is incredibly scary for the conflict-avoider!! So rather than simply approaching the person and attempting to resolve the issue, we internalize the guilt, fear etc. and sit in those negative emotions. This can feel like absolute torture!

So, back to the original question: Even if it is about us, so what? When two people get in a fight, it is in fact possible to make up! And even come out of the fight, closer than ever. Think of a marriage; I don’t know a single married couple that doesn’t fight sometimes. Fighting indicates a level of relationship where two people are close enough to reveal themselves completely, even if it means conflict. This is incredibly important in fostering genuine closeness and even longevity in relationships.

So let’s recap this week.

A) An Activating Event occurs
B) A Belief (a thought) crosses our minds
c) There is a Consequence

 

Our thoughts most likely fall into one of the Faulty Belief categories discussed either yesterday or today. We’ll go over another one on Monday as well.

Keep practing your ABCs! See you Monday!

Day 3 – Bumps in the road…

You began to learn your ABC’s yesterday which is great! Becoming aware of the sequence of events that occurs when your emotions get out of hand is the first step. Keep practicing “coaching yourself” and becoming more and more aware of what takes place in those situations! Each of these posts will build on one another. They are not meant to be isolated but rather are designed specifically to be read in this order,  slowly but surely increasing your knowledge and self-awareness. It takes dedication to read these and courage to implement what you read, so I am proud of you!

For those of you who read my anxiety series, today’s content is going to be review (Day 10 & Day 11 from anxiety series). For the newbies out there this may be brand new information. Either way, as you read through this post, think of times you have fallen into some of the following traps. These are common thinking patterns and nothing to be ashamed of… however, they are important to note and grab hold of so that you are no longer controlled by unhealthy thoughts.

After that long introduction… today’s topic is Cognitive Distortions (aka Faulty Beliefs). There are a variety of thinking pitfalls we all fall into that can really mess us up emotionally. See you if you can relate to any of these:

Making Demands:

Must, Ought, Should, Has to, Need, Have to…
“I must have the approval of everyone I know.”
“People should always treat me fairly.”
“I need to do well all the time.”

Catastrophizing:
Assuming the worst from a relatively minor situation.
Your husband says he’ll be home from work by 5:30pm. By 5:35pm, he hasn’t shown up yet and you start to get worried. By 5:40pm, you start wondering if he got in a car accident and by 5:45pm your heart is racing and you’re near tears.

All-or-nothing/Black & White Thinking:
There is no middle ground, just one extreme or another.
Either someone is completely to blame or responsibility-free in the situation.
Let’s say you’re on a diet during Girl Scout Cookie season. You get offered a Thin Mint and try to resist but end up eating one. You’re so upset that you just think to yourself “screw it” and eat the rest of the sleeve.

Forecasting:
You’ve been feeling down lately and are in a bit of a “funk.” Friday night rolls around and you get invited to a party with some coworkers. You think to yourselfThis is probably going to be lame. I barely know these people. I doubt it will be any fun” and decide to just stay home alone, which adds to your depressed mood.

Mind-Reading:
Making assumptions about what others are thinking.
You’re having a conversation with someone and they aren’t maintaining eye contact. They even yawn once. You figure they must be bored out of their mind and you discontinue the conversation immediately.

If you’re interested in reading a few more examples be sure to check out Day 10 & Day 11 from the anxiety series.

Let’s put a few things together. Yesterday’s ABC’s are:
  1. An activating event takes place.
  2. A thought runs through your head (perhaps one of the ones described today)
  3. An emotion or behavior results.

As you are either writing down or just thinking about when these situations occur in your life, get even more specific from now on regarding the category of thought that crossed your mind. Was it an “all or nothing/black or white” thought? Did you catastrophize a bit or attempt to read someone’s mind? Etc.

Keep working at this stuff. You really can get a handle on your thoughts, I promise!

See you soon!

 

 

Day 21 – Final thoughts…

I have been feeling some serious writer’s block today as I try to prepare for this final blog post on anxiety. It’s funny because this is not the end all, be all. I have plenty of time to continue posting and even adding to this series as time goes by and yet I am pressuring myself to make my final words today extra meaningful. :)

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I think the way I want to end this is on the topic of perspective. I read an interesting blog post recently called Anxiety as a Tool for Growth. I encourage you to check it out but from what I could gather, the main point is: perspective. Anxiety can be used to help us or harm us depending on how we use it and view it.

A good friend of mine, and fellow Life Coach, often says that we need to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us. It is amazing how when we start to do that, it’s truly as though they reveal things in the same way another person might. If we sit back and reflect on the circumstances surrounding what we’re experiencing, new revelations inevitably occur.

I hope you were able to reap some benefits from this series… strategies perhaps to help control anxious symptoms, insights into the how’s and why’s of anxiety… as well as a new way to view this unfortunate annoyance in many of our lives.

So your take-away for today is this… what is your anxiety telling you? Is it time to make a change? Are you stuck and ready for transition? Is there a difficult conversation you need to have with someone?

I hope you found the coping strategies and the facts and figures helpful but remember to thoughtfully consider what your anxiety means in your life as well.

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Please leave any final thoughts or comments about this series here. I would love to know what you think!

Day 20 – Acceptance

I can’t believe this series on anxiety is about to wrap up. 21 days go by quickly! This has been a fun experience for me and I am excited about embarking on a new blogging adventure starting Feb. 1st! Stay tuned for the new topic!
But to finish what I started…  I have done a lot of reflecting on what causes anxiety and worry over the past month. Even more important than employing strategies to control it, is coming to a better understanding of why we face it. It seems like it should be so easy. If there is a quality about us we don’t like, we change it right? But alas, not so much.
I think a lot of what’s behind anxiety, has to do with a lack of acceptance and even perhaps contentment with where we are in life and the inevitabilities life brings. Not all discontentment is bad. Sometimes lacking contentment can drive us toward great change; we may see an injustice and become utterly frustrated and consumed by whatever is taking place that we move into action! That’s obviously not a bad thing.
But more often than not, we simply don’t want to face reality and we believe somehow that complaining, worrying, stressing out and experiencing anxiety will help us gain control. It doesn’t.
There are two main areas I want to focus on:
 
  • Acceptance of the unknown
  • Acceptance of that which we can’t control
 
  1. My life is full of unknowns right now and I have tons of friends who are experiencing similar situations. I have a close friend who is scheduled to have a c-section tomorrow. Talk about an unknown… What she does know is that as of tomorrow life is going to look completely different. However, as this is her first child, she has no idea what that really means. What will she feel like? What will it be like to have a baby in the house? How will she and her husband relate to one another now that it’s not just the two of them anymore? The list goes on… As my husband is in law school right now and graduating in a few  years, we are wondering… what will life look like after? Where will we live? Where will he work? Will we have kids by then? The unknown can cause great fear and worry for many people. While we can prepare to no end, there will always be unanswered questions in life and eventually we need to just accept that fact rather than getting bogged down by everything that could happen. Let’s start focusing on what is happening right in front of us today!
 
  1. Oh how I wish I could control all things…. But sadly that’s not possible. I had a huge emotional breakdown on my honeymoon of all places because the realization hit me that my hubby is going to do things throughout our marriage that I can’t control, and yet will probably be greatly affected by. And vice versa (although that reality doesn’t scare me as much J). I think the fact that it didn’t hit me until after I had agreed to all of the “for better or worse” stuff is in part due to God’s sense of humor (because there wasn’t much I could do at that point) and in part due to my own delayed reactions. Anyway, stressing out about this fact will not change anything. Instead, I have chosen to just live my life and allow my husband to live his without nagging, nitpicking or trying to control him (which at times I do quite successfully and other times not so much). The point is, there are things in life we can’t control and that is okay. Yes we may be affected by things we wish we weren’t, but when that happens you just deal with it. Trying to anticipate or plan for these things to occur will only create a constant stream of worry and anxiety in your life.
 
One last note on acceptance – I read a grief book this past year and one thing really stood out to me that I continue to think about from time-to-time. The author of the book (called Life After Loss – highly recommend it by the way) talked about the importance of getting to a point where you stop asking the question “Why?” (“Why did this happen? Why do things have to change?” “Why did this person die?” etc.) and instead start asking “How?” (“How do I work thru this?” “How do I learn from what’s happened?”) “How” is more of an action word and when asked, implies a readiness for growth and moving forward. This takes time. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight and particularly with grieving, it’s quite natural to remain in the “Why?” stage for a while. But I liked the distinction between those two words and the fact that they reveal a lot about the state of the person asking those questions.
I know this is long and I am trying to squeeze all my final thoughts into just two more days of posting on this topic. I hope you have enjoyed the series and welcome any and all comments. See you tomorrow for Day 21!
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