In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer is difficult? What if, instead, everything looks dark, we question God’s compassion, and we want to hide in shame? In other words, what if we are clinically depressed? Can we still call ourselves sons or daughters of Christ?
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Even as I love the autumn season, it is full of anxiety for me (like every other season, come to think of it).
I start to mourn the ending of summer when I hear the cicadas grow louder the last two weeks of August and when I feel the crispness in the air at that time, which brings less sunlight and longer nights. Then the back-to-school craze: buying shoes, supplies, backpacks, etc. and trying to catch up on the homework we didn’t do during June and July. By the time I make it to the parent-teacher conferences in early September, when I hear about all the things I’m supposed to be doing with the kids, I’m well into panic mode.
Yesterday my therapist and I talked about a few coping exercises to keep my anxiety from disabling me this time of year.
You let the woman of your dreams get away. You made a parenting mistake that still haunts you. You quit an okay job only to replace it with a lousy one. You cheated a friend. And on and on and on. You want so badly to reverse the clock and do it again … the right way. Regrets can occupy a substantial amount of real estate in our minds, especially for those prone to obsessive thinking. I, for one, spend too many hours of my day in remorse over big and little choices—whether they be professional glitches, parenting inconsistencies, or personal shortfalls.
Here are some ways I’m trying to let go of my regret.
F.E.A.R – Forget everything and run. We are wired to fear, as fear has kept us alive back when we had hair on our feet, and continues to save our lives today when something threatens our existence. The almond-shaped cluster within our brain known as the amygdala, or fear center, is quite effective at sending “fight or flight” messages when anything—a sweat bee, public speaking, gossip–could be considered dangerous—physically or emotionally.
While that response was appropriate when an ape was chasing after us, and can be if a car merges suddenly into our lane, fear can often disable us today without good reason. Thus, we need to harness it. Here are seven ways.