What can you do when you are anxious, stressed, and worried?
Those three feelings can be debilitating. It can feel like a heavy weight on your chest. Your breathing is shallow. Your shoulders are tight and shrugged so that you barely have a neck. It's hard to enjoy what you are doing or who you are with because your brain is in a fight, flight, or freeze response.
So what can you do? It can help to make a list of what is on your mind. What are you anxious, stressed, and worried about? Often, the items on that list all start with "what if": "What if I fail? What if they don't like me? What if I do or say something stupid? What if I don't have enough money or enough time? What if this doesn't work out? What if I get fired? What if I don't get the job?" Write your list of "what ifs" on a piece of paper. Maybe your list would look like this:
- What if...
- ...they don't like me.
- ...I lose my job.
- ...I fail.
- ...I don't have enough money.
Next, you are going to change your "what ifs" into "even ifs". Draw a box around the list you created. On top of the box, write "even if". Now read down your list and insert "even if" in front each item you wrote:
- Even if...they don't like me...
- Even if...I lose my job...
- Even if...I fail...
- Even if...I don't have enough money...
Now you need to consider what is true even if that thing you are anxious, worried, or stressed about happens. What is still true of God and what is still true of you? I find it helpful to use a tool called the 4Gs. These are four truths about God that tell us how we'd live if we believed them. Each starts with the letter "G". Here they are:
- God is great, so I don’t have to be in control.
- God is glorious, so I don’t have to fear others.
- God is good, so I don’t have to look for satisfaction elsewhere.
- God is gracious, so I don’t have to prove myself.
You can complete your "even if" with each of these.
- Even if...they don't like me...God is glorious, so I don't have to fear others and I can look to God to tell me who I am.
- Even if...I lose my job...God is great, so I don't have to be in control and I can trust him with my life.
- Even if...I fail...God is gracious, so I don't have to prove myself; he won't love me any less if I fail.
- Even if...I don't have enough money...God is good, so I don't have look for satisfaction in more money or in having whatever it is I want to buy.
You could apply multiple 4Gs to each of these or apply different ones than I used. These are just examples.
So when you are anxious, stressed, or worried, try changing your "what ifs" into "even ifs" using the 4Gs.
If you'd like to go deeper into the 4Gs, here are some sermons that address them: