Are you confused by the title of this post? You’re probably thinking, did he title that wrong? Shouldn’t it be, “Why I Hate My Anxiety”? Honestly, it’s weird to even write the words “love” and “anxiety” in the same sentence. They’re like an oxymoron. Whatever that word means. I read it in a book one time so I thought I’d use it.
Since I’ve been aware of my anxiety, I’ve always looked at it as a bully who is just watching and waiting for me to be vulnerable so he could come out and give me an emotional atomic wedgie. He pushes me around and then when he’s got his “evil fix” he decides to return to the shadows inside my soul.
Do you feel like that with your anxiety?
If you’ll bear with me, how about for a moment we stop looking at our anxiety as a bully and start looking at it as our overprotective brother.
OVERPROTECTIVE BIG BROTHER
If you haven’t read, “Is Your Negativity Actually Your Insecurity” then please do. I think it’ll help with understanding this different perspective on anxiety. When we find ourselves in situations where our insecurities are attacked, it isn’t the anxiety that’s attacking us — it’s our insecurities. Actually, our anxiety is our overprotective brother who’s trying to keep us from getting hurt, but is doing a terrible job at it. Wait...What!?!
Yes, what I’m saying is that our anxiety isn’t the enemy but our ally. What I’m saying is that when our big brother is seeing our underwear being pulled out of our pants, he comes running. But in his defense of us, he accidently hits us. He smothers us. He elbows us across the face like a fight scene from a 90’s Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. But, he is fighting our insecurities. His intentions are good, but he fails miserably.
This is why I love my anxiety. He’s protecting me. What does this change in perspective do for us when it comes to our anxiety?
IT MAKES OUR ANXIETY LESS SCARY
When Steven Spielberg was creating the movie “Jaws” they had a tremendous amount of difficulty getting the animatronic shark to work correctly. When first put in the water it sank to the bottom of the ocean and they had to have a dive team to recover it. There were so many issues with the shark that Spielberg decided to keep the shark hidden for most of the movie. This in turn actually became the most frightening part. You can’t see it so it’s a lot scarier.
I think this same thing has happened with our anxiety. We haven’t seen it in it’s true form — a protector. It just moves around under the surface and thrashes up when insecurity attacks. But if we brought it out of the water, it’s not as scary. If we looked it in the eyes, it's just a big metal animatronic machine.
I want to point out that this doesn't change the damage that our anxiety can do to us. Our hearts still race and our stomach still turns, but when we look past the anxiety we might just see the real cause of these attacks: our unaddressed insecurities.
IT REVEALS INSECURITY AS THE ENEMY
As I mentioned earlier, our insecurity is the real enemy here. Each one of us could go back to a time where we were hurt, neglected or even abused. During that time, insecurity crawled in masked as a protector that would keep you from getting hurt again. The problem was, it was lying. It didn't want to protect you; it wanted to control you.
Because insecurity is the enemy, we have to do some seriously hard work. We have to go back to those moments or seasons of our lives where we were hurt and work through the mess.
When pulling weeds, if you don’t get the root out the weed will just grow back. You have to go to the bottom of the weed and pull it out carefully to make sure the root comes with it. The same is true with your pain. If you don’t carefully pull out the root, it’ll only grow back.
True healing comes when we uproot our pain and weed out our insecurities.
These efforts aren’t going to be easy and they’re going to hurt quite a bit, but I promise there’s healing on the other side. Here are some ways I’ve been able to do this in my own life.
Find someone to be your accountability partner.
Without a doubt, this was one of the most important pieces to my ongoing healing. You need someone in your life who can both keep you anchored and can sympathize with your hurt. This person has to be someone you can trust because you’re going to be sharing some real pain with them. Don’t hold back with this person — pour out your heart and let them grieve with you.
It’s about progress not perfection
During the first wave of weeding in my own life, I sought counseling for two years. I highly recommend this. It’s a beautiful thing to have someone who is unbiased walk with you and guide you through your pain.
I remember one particular session coming in and talking with my counselor about how I felt like a failure that past week. I’d made some bad decisions and allowed my insecurity to control me. My counselor said to me, “Aaron, do you see growth in yourself since we started meeting?” I said yes and he proceeded to remind me: “It’s about progress, not perfection.”
You’re going to miss a weed. You’re going to fall back into that pattern of allowing your insecurity to control you. All of that being said, make sure you are taking steps forward and showing yourself grace in the moments you fall.
Remember it’s about progress, not perfection.
IT ALLOWS US TO LOVE WHO WE ARE
When we’ve done the hard work of facing our pain and pushing out our insecurity, then we can stop and truly say, “I love myself.” This is going to take some time, but it’ll come with the weeding.
...for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9
If it wasn’t for my anxiety knocking me around from time to time, I’d never realize that insecurity is below the surface pulling the strings on my thoughts and decisions. I’d never be able to do the hard work of pulling out the weeds of pain that have rooted themselves in my life. I’d never be able to see what freedom looks like. Even though everyday is a battle, I still feel the warmth of hope shining down on me.
That’s Why I Love My Anxiety.