Focus on the moment and the resources you have on hand to meet it. You don’t need resources for tomorrow yet, or for next week, or next month.

Overcoming Anxiety—Stop Making Worry Payments On A Lay-Away Plan

Overcoming Anxiety
Photo by Uday Mittal on Unsplash

# 72 on my, 99 Life Tips–A List is: Remember that anxiety is making payments of worry in the present for a future outcome that hasn’t occurred yet. There will be plenty of time to feel bad about that outcome when it arrives. 90% of the time, it won’t.

The temptation when writing about overcoming anxiety is to sermonize Philippians 4:6, which starts with an imperative commandment:

Be anxious for nothing…

While the prohibition against anxiety is as binding as those against murder, adultery, and lying, this one usually gets a pass.

We treat it as an affliction, or disease, more than as a volitional sin. That’s hard to even put in writing. I have such empathy for those in my life who suffer with sometimes debilitating bouts of anxiety.

Nor have I been immune. But my tip above shows how I deal with it and to date, how I’ve successfully prevented succumbing to it.

Recognize what anxiety is. It is present-tense worry about a future outcome. We rarely feel anxious about past events. There may be regret or even depression over some past misfortune or tragedy. Depression seems to occupy the past predominantly. But we rarely worry about events behind us.

Anxiety about the future is the desire for reassurance and certainty that are impossible to give or receive. The uncertainty creates worry universally dominated by things out of your control. Wasting emotional energy on what you cannot control is debilitating.

But you don’t need me to tell you that.


Be Here, Now

You cannot stop how you feel unless you refuse to get into the mental time capsule that keeps playing images for you of events that haven’t happened yet. 

It takes a concerted effort to be present to right now.

It is staying present to right now that defeats anxiety. It is the only thing that consistently does.

Focus on the moment and the resources you have on hand to meet it. You don’t need resources for tomorrow yet, or for next week, or next month. When those moments arise, you’ll find the resources you need. Those scenes you fear, the ones playing on the future-projector in your head, may never happen. Leave room in your thinking for the possibility that unforeseen factors and forces may edit them out completely of your future.

One thing about that verse from Philippians; it mentions Thanksgiving, or gratitude. One of the surest, most powerful tools in your arsenal against either anxiety or depression is the practice of present-tense gratitude

It is impossible to be grateful and anxious, or grateful and depressed, at the same time. Gratitude is key to overcoming anxiety.

Relish with gratitude every simple pleasure and praise-worthy thing in your life that is yours right now. That breath you’re taking might be a good starting point. You got this.

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