Sunday, July 23, 2017

Letting Go of Anxiety in Life (& Separation)

When I went to a sermon today, I got a very powerful message and I wanted to share that a little bit with you. Honestly, I think you should share it as well, especially with those that suffer from anxiety or are going through a hard time.

It was all about talking about anxiety and what it does to us and really when we get to the root of it-- what we are doing to ourselves.

When you think anxiety, what is something that you think about?

It could be something as simple as planning out your week and being really frustrated at scheduling conflicts or what that week is going to look like. Let's be honest that this little activity, isn't so little and that it can become a very anxious thing for you to do making sure that everything kicks off the right way for your week. But, it can also be something much bigger and that is a lot more deeply rooted. This can often feel like your entire world is spinning around you resulting in the feeling of the fact that you have zero control over it.

Tommy talked about that being our own shepherd yields anxiety... so let's see what that looks like (with a real live sheep).

I would like to add that anxiety looks different for everyone. Nor would I have thought I had it personally, so this was a learning experience for me. This is not a one size fits all because no such thing exists. To assume so would be not only naive but even tend towards borderline offensive. Sometimes with anxiety, it comes on suddenly without warning- or warning signs that we ignored because there were more pressing things in our lives. Sometimes we can not control it. It can yield breath stopping full on panic attacks.

This is not saying we can completely control it but this perspective was very helpful in me conquering some of my anxiety (which I would not have thought of myself having anxiety) and believe it can help others as well. It's always one step at a time.

Anxiety is a preoccupation of what we cannot control and this includes situations and people and decisions and jobs and anything that you can think about.

What does that mean? We simply think and over-think.... and think some more, about how we can control things we simply can not. We try to understand things we can't understand. We try to keep and hold onto what we know without the realisation that something better could be waiting. And that yields us into the space of darkness, being uncomfortable, feeling squeezed and blinded, anxious, all while trying to understand and gain knowledge. It is a painful situation, frankly.

A sheep is put into an antiseptic bath by the shepherd to protect them from having diseases that will end their life early. And as you can imagine a sheep being submerged from head to toe in water makes them feel anxiously worried and concerned for their life. They start to feel like they lost trust in their Shepherd; the person that is supposed to protect them and guide them.

Yet, the sheep cannot see what the shepherd's doing. The sheep does not know that this bath is for their protection. They don't see it being a something that is useful or helpful because they're literally so far in the bath that the nervous system in their body kicks in. The (natural biological) anxiety that gets produces is a way of the body's trying to protect itself.

When we try to equivalate the story above (that Tommy uses and I paraphrased) of the sheep and the shepherd into what that means in our lives, we can find that we lean more on our personal understanding more than we do the divine. The divine, for you, may look totally different than the way it does for me and that is okay. I want you though, to look at this in a divine sense. If we bring that analogy into our own lives we can see how being stuck underwater or feeling that completely submerged and not being able to see the light is incredibly stressful and incredibly anxiety-inducing.

We could take my separation as a very good example of something that's a little more serious that definitely can be anxiety-producing. I'm going to be perfectly honest and say that I didn't realise the level of anxiety I had until I had heard this sermon and it was really quite enlightening for me because I can identify with that sheep.

And in hearing this sermon, it was freeing to hear and to be able to take a deep breath myself to realise I can't always control things they way that I want them to, even if they are correct (and especially when they are not). Every time I read this sentence above, I take a deep breath and remind myself of this, so I encourage you to the do the same. Release it. Let go of what you can not control.

This anxiety, I realised was a very real button for me personally while listening to the sermon. And in that, I was able to tell that a lot of my anxiety around my separation had to do with the fact that I felt like I was sitting in the middle of a hurricane with winds blowing 90-150 miles per hour at any given time for me. This was dependent on the day and how good I was able to try to "fly" myself outside the "eye" of my own personal hurricane. Water and rain and hail and thunder all swirling around me. Here I am, plain ole hippy happy me, trying as hard as I possibly can to see the rainbow in all of it. (I am a dreamer, can you tell?) At the same time, I know something very important about being in that hurricane; That if you sit in the eye of this hurricane, you can kind of see things swirl around you and see it in a different way than if you allow yourself to be able to see past just the first feeling that you can feel. And I think I personally learned a lot in the separation about how lost I was and how lost the relationship was and how we both had this need to be able to have our true selves seen while at the same time being caught up in real life just like every other couple that I know. And that doesn't even begin to touch it for me personally, as my separation stemmed from a very real personal hell that I can't begin to even describe even if I wanted to. And especially not here. But I have my hurricane. You have yours.

It's such a natural response for anybody to be anxious in a separation because you're looking at either working to fix what is already half broken or being able to acknowledge that there's no longer any need for that relationship and that's an incredibly hard thing for any body to be able to deal with let alone the two people that are in that relationship.

Two people who are separated, I think it's a really great analogy to acknowledge that sheep in you and to acknowledge that you have anxiety. That's natural but at the same time realising the root of that anxiety and what it is.

The biggest thing that you can do for yourself is to realise that you can't fix it by yourself and that's incredibly defeating and incredibly empowering at the same time.

A lot of the times in life we don't realise that the things that are around us affect us and we have much less control over it than we would ever want to admit to anyone around us and this is including relationships especially including marriages. People are so quick to point a finger in a marriage which does not just raise anxiety levels (of not only the two people in the marriage but everyone around them) but it also is a societal need to control something that isn't theirs to control.

When you have a family member that is dealing with being separated or divorced you can't allow yourself to be anxious about the relationship that you have no control over to begin with. Let's take it a step farther (and something I have experience with) which is also to blame someone only raises the anxiety level of both people. It hurts them deeply. This is something that in our social-cultural world we allow not only ourselves but other people to do this to us or to do it to them and we need to realise that we need to stop it.

If you look at what is causing your anxiety in a relationship you'll notice that's often times what other people think it is and what's going to happen. It was for me. It's the question of stability and safety and the need to be able to succeed and fit in. But sometimes to do that we have to trust that being a sheep under that water that we can't see everything that's going on on the outside and it's hard because sometimes no one around us can see that either. And this is why I do believe in something more divine and more powerful because there are things personally that have happened in my life both in and out of my own marriage that made me realize that. Things even that were divined to happen or some lesson to be taken from it. Or a purpose to come through it for yourself, another person, or both. There are some things you just can not explain. Not only were they things that I can not control but they were also things that I had to let go and just let the beauty of what was supposed to have happened, happen.

The irony of all of this is that I think that as a child I didn't have the level of anxiety that I do as an adult. I think it was something more fundamental in my belief when I was as a child that allowed me to realise that no one ever truly had control-- no matter how much any one wanted to. As a teenager, I was more trying to control any given situation I going through, for example, to buy a prom dress. But looking at the contrast of who I was and who I currently am, it's very interesting because to allow ourselves to be free and to let go we must put ourselves back in the eyes of a child. Letting go puts us in a very vulnerable position where we feel like that little kid again.

And while this might be a scary notion of allowing yourself not to have anxiety but to allow yourself to be vulnerable like a child, it's actually very freeing and you're able to be more of who you are naturally as a person. We can't adequately express that person inside us than if we put these barriers and these rose coloured shades on that we don't need to be having on in the first place because of the end of the day we are living our lives and no one else can live it for us.

Many of us allow anxiety and sociocultural pressures both in family and community (and in the country, especially right now) to impact who we are as people and how we function. I know I am guilty of this and I know many of the people who are as well. This is not saying that any given person is a bad person because anxiety and letting go (and learning that cycle) says that you're human and that you have room to grow. If you think about it, what a blessing it is that you have that room to grow because otherwise they're or you are going to be stagnant and no one should be stagnant. Stagnation causes both internal and external damage both to our minds, spirits, bodies, and communities.

So, I think that you could challenge yourself (and really this is a good challenge for everyone), is to be able to take a step back meditate. Figure out where that anxiety is coming from by allowing yourself to realise that you can't control everything and that that is a good thing. Being able to give that responsibility up to something greater than you is only going to free you more and make you happier. And how amazingly powerful is that?

So this week, start a new tradition-- take a deep breath sit back and allow yourself to be able to let go and see what beautiful fruition can come out of it.

If you want you can come back and also comment on the blog and let me know what it is that allowed you to be able to open up a free up a little bit.

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