Relaxing can be easier said than done. Especially in the high-strung world we live in today. Our culture is full of anxiety, uncertainty, disunity and conflict. So how can we relax when so many scary things are hitting us from every angle?
If you have followed my blogs, you will recall a couple of writings where I talked about facing some unfounded fears. I finally faced two deep seated fears in my fifties. I finally learned how to swim, and I made the decision to get braces. As I worked through childhood trauma in therapy, I conquered those fears. Of course, it was not without the involvement of Jesus who is an important part of my life. I wrote another similar blog about fear after I drove a wave runner for the first time. There was a common theme running through these blogs. It was all about relaxing. I could not enjoy the beauty of the ride if I was staring at the waves.
Recently we had the opportunity to go to the Florida Keys with our niece and nephew. We decided we were going snorkeling. Years ago, Tim and I went on a cruise and I tried snorkling, but I hated having that piece of equipment in my mouth. My niece found a mask that did the job of keeping air flowing without having to put anything in your mouth. I was excited and a little afraid.
When we got on the boat that would take us out into the ocean, I was having deja vu. Suddenly, I remembered being with a group of children on a boating outing. I declined the invitation to get in the water and stayed on the boat, because I was afraid. I felt so embarrassed and humiliated. I was surprised at how strong the “feeling” came over me that day in the Keys. Emotions cannot tell if the event happened yesterday or ten years ago. It can feel exactly the same when the memory surfaces.
I was determined to face another fear and get in that water! However, my first attempt was unsuccessful. I didn’t have my mask on right, and water was coming into my mask. So, I ended up going back to the boat to figure out what was wrong. We adjusted my mask, and I was ready to go again. When I got in the water I felt anxious. I started flailing my arms in the water, and was getting nowhere. But when I talked to myself, calmed down and looked at the beauty beneath me, I simply floated. If I could only have the years back where I was robbed of enjoyment. I let fear keep me from so many things.
What do you fear? How easy is it for you to relax? Our feelings always follow our thoughts. If I think I am going to drown, I will have some extreme reactions and get no where. Self-talk, as well as prayer, can move us from anxiety to a state of peace. I grew up in a home where worry and fear were demonstrated in our home on a regular basis. So many of the things we struggle with in our lives were caught rather than taught. Since none of us are perfect, I’m sure there are some things our children caught from us that were not helpful in their lives. But as adults, we can change stinking thinking and set our minds on truth.
Most of what people fear never happens. Fear can absolutely destroy so many things including our health. Living in a state of fight or flight is not good for us. Fear also fuels control. When I am fearful, I usually start trying to control the circumstance or the person. I’ve heard it said, ‘The quickest way to a nervous breakdown is to try to not have a nervous breakdown.” Let me let you in on a little secret. Control is an illusion. We are not in control. No one is in control. But we know the one who is in control, and can give us peace during uncertainty. Cry out to God when you feel fearful or anxious. Ask him for the peace that passes all understanding. And then take a deep breath and relax. If you have been a high-strung person all of your life this will take time. And you may need the help of a professional. But I just want you to know that you do not have to stay in an anxious mindset. We don’t have to say, “Well, it runs in my family.” We CAN say, “It ran in my family until it ran into me!”
(There are times chemical imbalances can make you feel anxious so you should always seek the help of a doctor first. There may be medications that can help in some cases.).