At a recent small gathering of friends, we decided to take stock and celebrate all the good and positive things in all of our lives this past year.
One theme we spoke about was faith and courage versus nervousness, doubt, anxiety and fears and the desire amongst all of us to have more courage and faith in situations that cause us any of those above feelings. A great point someone mentioned is that even if we think we have a lot of faith and courage, we can often still have that feeling of “aah” in our chests, which is where the sympathetic nervous system resides and can get over stimulated when we’re in “stress.” Everyone I know has something that causes them some tension. It could be finances, illness, something with children, elderly parents, livelihood something they regret, want to do better, etc. This is all part of life.
Breathing fully (diaphragmatic breathing,) actually slows down these feelings and helps to calm them, but remembering to do this or other healthy habits at the moment can be hard. Also, it’s not generally the first instinct to remember to ask for help from a friend, loved one, colleague, God, etc. when having anxious, nervous, or doubting/fear-filled feelings.
When the rubber meets the road and you’ve been parroted the latest and greatest of the “have faith, no fear,” type slogans that abound in popular culture, take faith (pun intended,) that you are not alone and that these aphorisms are not always comforting. In a recent New York Times article about one woman’s thoughts on “being fearless,” my favorite line is that she tells a friend of hers who sells jewelry with inspirational messages on it, that she wants a necklace that says something about being ‘scared all the time.’ How true. Instead, she winds up with one that simply says, “I will persevere.”
When you pray to get through something hard, and you keep showing up for it despite how hard it might feel or be, when you take the test or apply for the rigorous civil service exam or you just keep doing one day at a time in caretaking a sick loved one, you, like I, may still have worry, doubt, fear, anxiety or nervousness. But you are persevering and this is one way through “fear,” and all of those other yucko emotions. I find that I can stretch farther when I ask for help.
I have some elastic that says, “NERVOUS!” and then a few inches later, it says, “NERVOUS!” again, like a whole long roll of nervousness elastic (think like elastic waistband type elastic) with a less than comforting word on it. So I tied it around a doorknob as a demonstration of sorts for myself and a few friends the other day. Using a soft measuring tape, we saw that it measured 162 inches on its own, not stretched, and then how much further it went when stretched and used that as a metaphor for stretching further with courage and faith and however one finds those in their own lives. With the metaphor of courage and faith in our minds, when stretched out, the elastic was almost double in length!
There isn’t always the choice to not stretch. In regards to much of life, we don’t get to choose all of the circumstances and/or situations or relationships that are given to us. Sometimes that is where we (and I personally,) need to grow and stretch the most.
As my super smart and wonderful Grandmother told me yesterday, you can’t be afraid of failing because failing is an experience too. It’s a learning experience. She is very wise at age 96, and she reminded me that when nervous and wanting to do something, you have to ask yourself what are your options. Ask how you’re going to feel if you don’t try, or if you try and it doesn’t work out. Is it worth trying again or is it not worth it? And if it’s not something you “asked for,” in life, but a situation that is anxious-making or difficult, remind yourself that you have coped with this or something like it in the past and try to address it the best you can.
There is often much in life that can frighten us, scare us, or make us nervous, but if we can remember to keep a strong thought of courage, hope or faith and try to remain as upbeat as possible, it’s do-able to rise above some of these difficulties and celebrate that victory!
Ask yourself when faced with nervousness, doubt, fear or anxiety, how you’re going to try to stretch further, in whatever healthy way that means for you. What gives you courage or helps you have faith in these situations? What is your antidote and helps you hang on to hope and celebrate life in all its myriad parts? Do share with us here [email protected]
May the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 bring you and yours much to celebrate!!