In Anxiety: Part 1 Pull on the Nail, we began the process for getting rid of preoccupations and worries. The remaining 3 tips are useful once the written part of the first 3 points is finished. There’s a lot of ‘holding’ going on during the last part of the process.
In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 2012, p 41
HOLD ON A SEC!
4. Pray the Serenity Prayer. I pray this more than once, slowly, thoughtfully. The reason I choose to do this is the same as why I look more than once to the right and left before I drive through an intersection. I have to compensate for my lack of concentration. My dad taught Driver’s Ed and he told me to look once for my daydreams and again to actually see the road. It works. (I prefer to use the whole Serenity Prayer.)
5. Do The Next Right Thing. This principle is a huge help for me. I only need to know the next right thing to do. I don’t need to know ‘what about after that’ anymore. It is amazing how often the situation resolves itself if I choose to do that next right thing. If I don’t feel any clear direction, I wait until I do. I’ve never missed a deadline yet!
6. Return to the Serenity Prayer. If my anxiety isn’t resolved by this point, I return to praying the Serenity Prayer or use the Serenity and Control Chart to check my thinking again.
Sometimes the solution to the problem is to put it away and wait. I don’t do this until necessary. It’s still my preference to decide and act. But not acting ‘yet’ doesn’t make me feel powerless anymore. Just the opposite. I feel good about deciding to wait, which isn’t the same thing as not deciding. Inaction can be a good decision. It still lets us move into the now and stop the dirt devils of anxiety from bouncing around endlessly in our minds.
Two Minutes of Grace speaks to the topic of spending so much of our time in our heads:
And we warn each other of the perils of dwelling in the negative future: the land of what if, of dread and worry and fear. We make a concentrated effort to maintain sea walls against those aspects of the past and the future.
The goal is to have a method for dealing with these anxieties or preoccupations of our mind that pull us away from the possible joy of the present moment. Just trying to ignore them or escaping reality isn’t an option any longer. I long for serenity and the experience of being in His will. Those are found in the present moment.
I desire to find His will and these tips help me to do that. Let me know the results of your experiment with this method, or share what else helps you when you’re experiencing anxiety over an issue.
PS: Prerequisites for any rigorous emotional work involve a fairly stable mental condition, adequate counsel, and regular doctor visits. Anxiety as a mental health disorder is another topic for another day. Also, I’m not implying we should not expect to have troubles in this life. It’s how we face them that I’m concerned with.