How’s your anxiety this week? Because of the election, a lot of people have been on edge. People have been nervous about the wrong person getting elected. Americans have been concerned about the integrity of the election. And above all, we’ve been nervous about the possible changes that will come in the future depending on who wins the election.
I admit. I’ve been a little on edge myself. Even though I was destined to be disappointed in the outcome of the election, because I didn’t vote for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden, I still experienced some of the collective anxiety of “not knowing” on the night of the election who had won, and all the drama sense then. I too hit the refresh button on my browser screen a million times this week to see what was the latest vote count.
This past week in America we certainly were an anxious bunch. The election happened. Would Trump win? Would Biden win? Would the Democrats usher in a so-called “Blue Wave” in which they controlled the presidency, the house, and the senate? Would 2021 be the year America becomes a socialist state? Would there be riots in the streets? Would there be massive voter fraud and would the election be viewed as illegitimate? Would the election be contested and ultimately decided by the Supreme Court?
We’ve had all these thoughts and fears and a thousand more. It feels like the end of the world as we know it. So… let’s have a little inspiration for today’s podcast, and channel some 1980’s music from R.E.M.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a form of suffering. It’s a psychological response that causes us to experience the sufferings of events that haven’t happened yet. Yet, in the present, we experience them as if they already have happened. Anxiety is us living in the present as if doomsday is happening right now. We are afraid over future events that have yet to materialize.
Someone once said FEAR is just an acronym that stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. And never is fear more alive than when our thoughts and imaginations are left to run wild. Especially ones where we think are well informed, and believe those possibilities appear to be very real potential outcomes.
Most of these fears about the future are just lies we tell ourselves as we attempt to control that which we cannot control. It’s a defensive mechanism we use to bring us a sick sense of comfort. And sadly, it’s highly addicting.
Our Fears Seldom Materialize
Yet it’s interesting, for all the things we worry about, 95% of them never happen. So, that’s either a good sign that worrying works, or our projections about the future and the doomsday scenarios we envision just never materialize.
We are terrible prophets when we attempt to predict the future.
And when it comes to the political arena, I believe we are especially bad about predicting the future. I’m in my late 30’s, and have been pretty politically involved for decades. I keep up on what’s happening and pay attention to what all the pundits and prognosticators say. I listen to the news, read books, follow podcast, and pay attention to what’s happening in the world and why it’s happening. I also keep an ear out for what people think might happen.
And if anything I’ve learned: Political prognosticators are almost always wrong. At best, they have a sense of the general trajectory we are heading because they can tell what way the wind is blowing. But events seldom workout as they say. Even when one party is completely in power, their ability to take dramatic actions that result in great changes are difficult if not near impossible.
There are so many competing factions vying to get their pet political policies passed through congress. And by the time they draft a bill and get it passed, it seldom lives up to all the hype, hope, or fears. What finally becomes law is usually just a shell of whatever was originally envisioned or promised.
Fear Sells… And Everyone Knows It
If there’s anything the news and politicians are good at selling us it’s fear. They peddle in it much more than they do actual facts. That’s why the moment something happens, before we can even get all the facts of the situation established, some expert is being dragged in front of a camera to tell us all what this will mean about the future.
Fear sells, and all that powers that be know it. Financial gurus are always pumping a stock they know we’ll buy because we have a fear of missing out. “Breaking news” is always being announced to keep us on the edge of our seat and watching the TV so we can find out about what terrible thing just happened. And politicians are always painting the worst of possible scenarios if the other side gets elected and comes into power. It’s just going to be a complete takeover of everything, and everything is going to change dramatically… unless you elect me!
Controlling Our Thought Life
I’m not a psychologist. I’m no guru. I just happen to be a guy who has had to learn to battle his own demons. I come from a lineage of professional worry warts. It’s in my blood. As a grown man I can’t see a pile of sticks without thinking there might be an army of snakes and ticks in there ready to kill me. But for all my fears and anxieties, I’ve learned a thing or two about working through these fears.
And the biggest thing I’ve learned about anxiety, is we’ll never overcome it until we make a conscious decision to think about our thinking. Most of our anxiety comes simply from thinking about things in the wrong way, and mulling on it over and over again. And we’ll never overcome our anxiety until we learn to recognize when we’ve jumped aboard the crazy train, and find a way to get off.
For some, this problem is clinical and medical. And I don’t wish to trivialize people suffering from chronic anxiety problems. If that’s you, I really do highly encourage you to see a professional medical expert who can help you work through your anxiety. There is no shame in such.
But for those of you who are not currently in need of professional counseling, I have assembled some quotes that I’d like to use to talk through dealing with anxiety. Please be sure to listen to this podcast in order to hear me fully discuss each point.
1. Recognize Anxiety Gets Us Nowhere
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” —Jodi Picoult
2. We Are Our Own Worst Enemy
“People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” —George Bernard Shaw
3. We Have A False Solution
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” —Charles Spurgeon
4. We Must Make A Choice
“Life is 10 percent what you experience and 90 percent how you respond to it.” —Dorothy M. Neddermeyer
“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” —Wayne Dyer
“…we are taking every thought captive and presenting it to obedience for Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
5. Live In The Present– And Trust God With It All
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:25-34
6. Turn Your TV Off: Find Good Things To Think About
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” ~ Philippians 4:4-9