Feelings or Anxiety?

“Almost everything will work again

if you unplug it for a few minutes,

Including you. “

~Anne Lamott

Webster defines feelings as an emotional state or a reaction to something. Emotions can be a vague or an irrational feeling. When we allow emotions to dictate, they can hi-jack good intentions.

Our day-to-day lives are filled with good and bad feelings. It is what we do with our emotional state of mind that determines their worth. Feelings can be much like a rut in the road, they are familiar. Try as we might, we tend to end up in the rut unless we define the emotions and the solutions.  

Define your feelings: Take a moment to feel what you are feeling.  Take a deep breath and focus on what is going on. First eliminate being hungry or tired. These two body reactions can be interpreted as feelings and show up as frustration, anxiety, being sick, unhappy or being overwhelmed.

If you are hungry—eat. If you are tired, delay dealing with decisions until you can sleep. The saying ‘sleep on it’ was never more important than now.

There is another old saying, “If you can name it, you can tame it.” Try to get to the origin of the problem. Spend the time being able to recognize the real feeling before having a knee-jerk reaction.

No more laters: Often our emotions can pile up on us because we don’t know what to do with what we’re feeling, or we put off saying or doing what we already know we should do. By avoiding dealing with situations, we grow them like weeds. Write down what you are feeling, search for the cause, and address it. If you make the wrong choice, go back, and change it, but do not let it sit and simmer. If you need to address something with a person, do it. Word it carefully, and then trust them to be part of the solution.

Write it down. Feelings left inside our hearts and minds tend to fester and grow far beyond the original cause. Writing them down forces us to clarify what the feeling is and its value to us. Often seeing it in black and white removes the power or at least lessens the influence it has over us.

Buffer thoughts and actions: Reacting to emotions rarely creates the outcome you are hoping for. Take a moment away from the emotion, take several deep, slow breaths and clarify your thoughts, then say what you are thinking to yourself before speaking it aloud. This simple exercise can help you respond rather than react.

Control your thoughts rather than allowing thoughts to control you. Thoughts, feelings, moods, only have power if you let them. We can get in the habit of allowing thoughts to govern us so often that it’s like running a train down the tracks at 100 miles per hour by the caboose. The caboose is important to the train but is not equipped to run the engine.

Not every emotion needs a platform. Giving a voice to every emotion that swims past our awareness can be exhausting. Acknowledging a feeling and giving it a nod to continue past our stream of consciousness allows emotions that should be dealt with the energy to do so.

Watch your mouth. Negative emotions are a part of human nature, talking about them doesn’t have to be. Take a moment to understand why you have the negative emotion come up with a positive way to handle it and speak the solution. If you always say, “I’m fat, or I’m always going to be broke” you will be. I remember as a child someone telling me, “If you focus on having a fire-breathing dragon long enough, you will have one.” What they were warning me about was where your mind spends its time, is the world you will create. Speak positively as often as you can. Be the person in the room that fills it with positive energy rather than one that sucks the room dry.

Be aware of the mountains and valleys. For every mountain top emotion, there will be an equal low. Your world did not fall apart. The dip is the mind’s way of bringing you back to your homeostasis or base line. It takes great energy to be on an upward run, so build into your surges times of rest. Practice regular pauses to renew your energy and thinking. Put your breaks on your calendar until they become second nature.

View the forest, not just the trees. Life up close is vital for a mindful awareness, but it is equally important to take a step back. The view from a distance will afford new perspectives on your life/work balance and goals.

I am not suggesting we stop our emotions, but I am suggesting we recognize them rather than thinking they are the headliners in every story. We should feel emotional, we are wired to be sensitive. There will be days when the world feels like it is on tilt; note it, plan accordingly and define the feelings when we are not standing on the edge of a cliff.

We all experience difficult emotions like pain, sorrow, sadness, anger, etc. Sometimes negative emotions knock us out of complacency. Being uncomfortable may wake us up to negative situations and propel positive change. Defining the emotions can afford us the ability to use them for good.

Choose different words in the sentences in your head. If you can not talk nice about yourself, then quote affirmative Bible verses until the negative tone finds a positive meter.

If you can, define how you feel about things before you share them with others to avoid being heavily influenced. Protect your own instincts and feelings. There will be times you will need outside counsel—use it. There is no shame in collecting resources and others’ ideas, especially if they have already walked where you are attempting to go. When you have decided how you feel by giving yourself enough time to think, then create the solution.

Pick Up Your Sword

  1. Take ten minutes every day to just sit with your thoughts. Try listing them and then numbering them in priority and start working on the most important one. What are your top three feelings or situations that might cause you stress or anxiety?
    1. ___________________________________________________
    1. ___________________________________________________
    1. ___________________________________________________
  • What are your ways of handling anxiety? Name 3. (if you can’t name 3 ways, it’s time to be a better steward of you and research ideas)
    • ___________________________________________________
    • ___________________________________________________
    • ___________________________________________________
  • Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7

Your thoughts: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~ 2Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

Your thoughts: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • So, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” ~Hebrews 13:6 (ESV)

Your thoughts: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. ~Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)

Your thoughts: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41: 10

Your thoughts: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________