I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air. It felt like all the breath in me was suddenly sucked away into a vacuum. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t have asthma and although it was the beginning of allergy season, I didn’t have allergies either. I later came to find out that this was just one of the symptoms of the anxiety I couldn’t seem to shake.
I had experienced anxiety before. Actually, I struggled with severe social anxiety since I was a child. But, until that year, I don’t think I experienced anxiety quite like this.
All I know is, I felt trapped and helpless. Worry for the future and fear from my past constantly plagued my mind. I saw things that weren’t there, I overreacted to simple situations, and I was afraid of things I never should have feared.
I pushed my symptoms out of my mind and refused to deal with them. I thought if I ignored them, they would eventually go away. But, they didn’t. Sometimes, even the thought of anxiety made me anxious. Honestly, sometimes it still does. I’d lay in bed for a few short minutes only to jump back up because my throat felt like it was closing in on me. I looked in the mirror to find random outbreaks of rashes on my skin.
My body’s aversion to caffeine became worse. I took a few sips and felt my heart racing, my hands shaking, and my vision going blurry. It would take entire days to wear off.
The girl who had faced Goliath and won seemed to be losing in a battle she didn’t think she had to fight. Truth is, I couldn’t win my battle by ignoring the enemy. I had to fight him face to face.
But who wants to fight when they feel crippled by fear? Who’s motivated to win when they already feel defeated? I know, it’s easier said than done.
But, there is a way to fight and win.
Recognize the root of anxiety
There is a root cause to every issue. Anxiety is the same. While many things including past experiences, sudden life changes, or extreme stress can trigger anxiety, one thing truly causes it. It’s fear. We’ve all experienced fear at some point in our lives and most times, that fear is completely rational. For example, if you fear snakes, there’s a pretty good reason for it.
But the root of anxiety is irrational fear. It tells us lies like…
- We’re not good enough
- We’ll never amount to anything
- No one loves us
- We’ll run out of provision
- God has forgotten us
- We’re unwanted
Anxiety magnifies these lies in us. Instead of living out of truth, we live from the point of view of our biggest fears. Yet, God did not design us to fear.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Since the root of anxiety is fear, if we want to conquer it, we must conquer fear.
Expose irrational fear
To overcome your fear, you need to recognize what it is exactly. Think back to your childhood, or even early adolescence. Are there any patterns forming? What usually triggers your anxiety? Is it something that happened in your past? A negative emotion that someone made you feel a long time ago?
In all honesty, mine is rejection. So, anxiety shows up at work when I make a little mistake. It shows up when a friend doesn’t respond to my text right away. It even shows up when meeting new people. It might take some time to recognize the fear fueling your anxiety, and you might need outside help to find it. But once you do find it, you can work on overcoming it.
Eliminate negative thoughts with God’s word
Did you know that fear starts in our minds and works its way into our actions?
2 Corinthians 10:5 says this:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Let’s break this verse down. Two verses before, the author of Corinthians says that even though we live in the flesh (live in an earthly dimension), we don’t fight in the flesh. This means that our true battle is spiritual. We have to fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. So we overcome anxiety in the spirit, not in the flesh.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, what does this have to do with arguments and lofty opinions?” Think about a house. You build a house brick by brick. You also build up thought patterns brick by brick, layer by layer. Experiencing rejection once did not build a house in my heart. It took many years and many layers of thoughts, opinions, and belief systems to form.
This means, it’ll probably take some work to completely cast down. But what I can do is begin dismantling it brick by brick. I do that through God’s word.
When I feel like a failure, I can choose to speak the truth that:
No, in all these things I AM more than a conqueror through him who loves me.Romans 8:37 (emphasis mine)
When I feel unloved, I can hold onto this:
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.Jeremiah 31:3 (Emphasis mine)
When I don’t feel good enough, I can rest in this:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:9
So layer by layer, the negative thoughts are replaced by truth. And little by little, a huge house begins falling down.
You are still an overcomer even in the middle of anxiety
I want to assure you, just because you still experience the symptoms of anxiety doesn’t mean you haven’t overcome. You have overcome when you recognize that your struggle does not define you. When you choose to believe God when its hard, instead of entertaining fear, you have overcome. Strength does not mean we don’t struggle. It means that we choose to turn to God and allow him to be our consolation.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19
Be mindful of your thoughts
They say, you are what you eat. Well, I’d say you are what you think. While it’s so important to meditate on truth, it’s equally necessary to make sure that you do not feed your mind with negative thoughts. This doesn’t mean that negative thoughts won’t come, it simply means that you refuse to dwell on them.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Consider these questions:
- What is true?
- What is noble?
- What is right?
- What is pure?
- What is lovely?
- What is admirable?
These are the thoughts you should entertain. Reject anything else.
I know overcoming anxiety is not easy but I hope that this article was helpful for you. I’m praying for you & please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.
This article is not meant to replace medical advice from your doctor. Follow the treatment they prescribe in addition to what I share in this article. Remember that God also heals through doctors, medicine and treatment.