One thing seems to be consistent as I work with people day to day. Traumatic events can unsettle us and influence a negative pattern of thinking and feeling. This framework can start in early childhood and have a lasting impact and impression on our lives. Often, this has a negative effect on relationships, social situations, our physical, mental, and spiritual health and sometimes employment.
The bridge to understanding and healing will lie in analysing and facing past issues which play a role in your present. When this is identified, you will be on your way to gaining victory over a persistent situation. Healing sometimes lies in facing some difficult questions and seeking answers. Living with unresolved thoughts and feelings can lead to stress and anxiety which can impact our lives.
Many do not have the tools to be able to identify and articulate feelings and some don’t know where to get help for the things that they identify. Some know how to be strong and pretend that everything is fine.
Few know how to name how they feel and confront the issues. This ignoring of feelings can lead to depression.
There are many practical things that can help with feelings of depression and anxiety, such as:
Even a small amount of exercise every day can go a long way in helping you manage stress and improve your overall well-being. Other types of exercise such as going for a walk-in open air will invigorate and refresh you. 30 minutes of exercise daily can help to calm your nerves and clear your mind. This will give you the ability to think clearly and release negative thoughts.
Adjust your thinking and change how you feel.
Our thoughts have an enormous impact on how we feel. Adjust how you think about your current situation, and you will start to feel different about it. For example, John struggles with high blood pressure and has also developed a pattern of worrying which extends to most areas of his life. He is also prone to negative thinking and has a very grey outlook on life. John makes excuses for all his behaviour and does not try any suggestions that could help him. His initial response is usually “It will not work” or “I cannot do it.”
Unfortunately, John has trapped himself in a world where nothing works. His blood pressure remains high, and he heavily depends on his doctor for help. He also refuses to try anything to enable him to live a richer and fuller life. There are periods when it appears that he would like to change. However, his illness has garnered him a lot of attention and sympathy.
Has John trapped himself in a cycle that is difficult for him to break free from? Let us examine his attitude of always blocking help with “it will not work”, and “I cannot do it”. He will never be able to do it until he tries. I can appreciate that the thought of attempting change can sometimes be a challenge. Moreover, our thoughts about change are usually more terrifying and upsetting than change itself.
Our thoughts can generate anxious or even depressive feelings. How you think about your situation will greatly impact any moves you make towards recovery and healing. If you are thinking: “my trauma is too horrific”, “my past is too traumatic”, or “My wound is too deep,” chances are you will begin to feel more hurt. You will begin to listen to the lie of ‘you cannot get past this’ and could almost begin to see anxiety as a way of helping you deal with the wounds of emotional pain. On the other hand, if you tell yourself that it is hard, but you can work through it, you will begin to change.
Have you ever heard this old saying, ‘I think therefore I am’?
Over the course of the week a pattern will emerge that will help you identify activating events, your beliefs about those events and the impact that they have on you. Use the table below to make a list and highlight patterns in your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes it can be hard to identify the beliefs behind an event; however, this is crucial because it is the way we think about a situation that causes it to impact us or not. Be patient with yourself. Show yourself sympathy and kindness. This will give you the space to analyse your thoughts and feelings without judgement.
Be honest with yourself.
Sometimes we maintain a certain emotional state because of the rewards. Do not stop reading yet. I promise that I will help you realize if you are making an unconscious decision to protect your stress, or if you really want to let go of it and get complete healing. You might be protecting yourself by finding ways to maintain your current emotional state. For example, it might be the time when you give yourself permission to eat more chocolate, indulge in more takeaways, gorge on television, put off making an important decision or get out and exercise.
If you were to honestly examine each of the ideas above, which would resonate with you? If yours is not on the list, what do you use to soothe yourself to shield yourself from stressful thoughts and feelings? Remember, we are pursuing honesty and it is the radical decisions that will help you to identify, uproot and discard patterns of behaviour that have contributed to your stress for many years. It is the process of facing challenges, overcoming, and growing that will enable you to develop the kind of resilience that will allow you to completely get rid of anxiety one day at a time.
Too good to be true.
Resilience grows through overcoming obstacles. Where many go wrong is in believing they do not have what it takes to tackle their challenges.
Prayer is an effective tool.
Philippians 4:6, ‘Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.’ You can also pray about the things that influence stress and act on the instructions given.