I’ve been feeling stressed lately. For over 3 years now, I have had to deal with a family member who is convinced that I am not family & who has been very vocal & aggressive about it. It has not been pretty. It has been pretty nerve-wracking & worrisome because their perception of reality does not coincide with mine. This situation has brought up a lot of fear in me that I’ve worked on pretty regularly for the last 3+ years through my prayer & emotional work. It has caused me to question my version of events, my truth, my beliefs, my perceptions. I have feared that I am creating negative consequences for myself & for others by my continuing to interact with & participate in this discord. Like Job, I have feared that I must have done something wrong since this is happening to me. I have feared that my version of events, my reality is wrong since someone else has such a different version. At times, I have feared that I am crazy. Believe me, there is nothing more crazy-making than having someone in your life who is convinced that what you think is reality is not real! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more than one movie using this ploy in the script.
While this is an unusual example, you can probably think of times you have been anxious, worried or fearful when, like my situation, it was not due to an animal attack. I bring up animal attack because this is the classic example given when describing fear & the “fight or flight” stress response of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS triggers the “fight or flight” stress response which readies the body to fight or flee from danger. There aren’t too many animal attacks happening in the course of most people’s lives these days but we still seem to experience plenty of anxiety, worry, fear, stress & the resulting ANS activation. Most of us are not daily fighting or fleeing for our lives but rather dealing with long term, low level stress due to intractable people & situations such as my own example above.
Now you may be wondering why I am talking about fear & anxiety under the heading of “Our Mental Selves” rather than “Our Emotional Selves” so let me digress & explain where I’m coming from. While fear is an emotion & therefore more a part of our emotional self, anxiety can be thought of as a mental emotion or state arising from our mental self as can despair, probably. Generally, for the purpose of our discussion, consider that ideas, beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, words & some attitudes & emotions are a part of the mental self.
Today, people are more likely to experience unrelenting, long term worry & anxiety versus temporary outright fear for their lives. So, while the emotional self’s fear of impending doom can definitely trigger the “fight or flight” stress response of the ANS, so can the mental self’s experience of worry & anxiety. Worry is an activity of the mind & the mental self that often triggers anxiety & fear & therefore the stress response. What you may not realize is that worry & anxiety over something currently happening, something that has already happened or something that might happen in the future will all have the same effect. While you may realize that what you’re worrying about isn’t actually happening right now, this minute, your body does not & will activate the ANS as though you are being chased down the street by danger. This is what makes the long term, low level stress of the mental type especially destructive because there is no immediate resolution as there would be with a single, sudden, frightening event. The mental type of stress & resulting ANS activation could literally last for years instead of seconds. A lot has been made of the self-created stress of the “Type A” personality but I’m pretty certain that whether or not you are a “Type A” doesn’t matter nearly as much as the length of time you are stressed. A typical “Type A” blows up & moves on – the mental equivalent of being chased down the street by danger. As long as this isn’t happening on a daily basis, probably not beyond the ability of the body to recover. But what about the family members of this person? Not too many people can take the blow-ups of others & move on so they are left with stewing over the previous blow-ups & worrying about & dreading the next blow-up, walking on eggshells trying to prevent it.
So what is the solution? Quit worrying! The upsetting thoughts rattling around & movies playing over & over again in your mind/brain/mental self are completely unproductive & usually move you no closer to any sort of resolution. Instead, surrender them to the Holy Spirit in prayer each & every time you find yourself back in the rut of fretting & worrying. I have also in contemplation, gone before God with a basket or apron full of eggs & one by one handed them over naming the person, worry or upsetting situation that each represents, letting go & letting God. I figure putting all of your eggs in one basket is a good thing if you are handing it over to God. This technique works especially well at bedtime before falling asleep. Another thing you can do is forgive each thought as it occurs. Since your thoughts direct your energy (energy follows thought), by forgiving each & every thought you have that isn’t best, over time you create an energy of peace & quiet within yourself. The negative thoughts die down & what you are left with is your divine self that God created you to be. An amazing side effect of this is that you will have created the space within you in which the Holy Spirit can be present & communicate with you. This is infinitely more satisfying than the out of control fear, worry & anxiety & the resulting stress & ill health that thinking negative thoughts & scenarios creates. This is what will resolve the stressful problems in your life. This is what will move you forward into a better life.
Live, Love & Laugh in the Light of God
My main purpose for this blog, is to address spiritual experiences but as a self-professed health nut & as an Holistic Therapist, I can’t ignore all the rest. To ignore all the rest, is to see only a small fraction of ourselves. We are so incredibly multifaceted, complex & wonderfully made, that to ignore any part of us is a grave mistake having serious consequences. In order to be truly whole, healthy & happy, we need to become aware of & address the issues of every part of our selves including our spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, energetic & subconscious selves, leaving nothing out. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all that we are & all that we can perceive & this is probably what drives us to find a magic bullet cure, a quick fix, a simple answer. I have been as guilty of this as anyone but I have discovered along the way that, usually, there is no one simple answer to the questions of life or to the problems in our lives. So, if I only write about spiritual experiences in this blog, I will be doing Spirit, myself & you a disservice. For this reason, this website & my posts will encompass the full spectrum of our selves & our lives as spiritual beings having a physical experience. After all, there’s more to us than meets the eye.
This is the first in a series of posts dealing with the different aspects of our selves & how best to heal them. That I know of so far, I will be covering our emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, energetic & subconscious selves. I am not suggesting that this is all that we are or even that we literally have an emotional self, a mental self, etc. We are in reality, much more complicated than this but I am dividing our selves up into manageable, descriptive bits so that we can talk about them.
In many ways, we are like a house divided against itself. How much can we accomplish in a day, a month, a year, a lifetime, if much of our energy is spent struggling against our selves? This is what happens when every part of our self is not in agreement. Conflicting needs & agendas are created by unhealed traumas, wounds & issues, past experiences, misunderstandings, damaging beliefs, unclear perceptions, false ideas, negative thoughts, emotional baggage & many other things. As a result, we are unable to perceive ourselves clearly let alone know what we truly need or want according to the desires of our hearts planted there by God. Then there are all the external influences throughout our life that affect us such as our family, friends, teachers, caregivers & co-workers, our home, environment & culture, our relationships & connections to others, books we’ve read, movies we’ve watched & so on & so forth. These pull us every which way & can make it difficult to move forward in our life. Additionally, there is the chaos & confusion generated when we take on things that are not ours to take on, things that are not who God created us to be. All of this, successfully separates us from our true selves, our wholeness, our true hearts desires & God’s purpose for us. From this perspective, it can be clearly seen, that true healing requires that we address all aspects of our selves.
What can be done to heal & become whole? The best & first answer to this question is, “Ask to be healed.” This should always be the first step before doing anything – remember Matthew 7:7-8 (on “My Favorites Collection” page)? By asking, we bring the power of our words & our will to bear on our lives, we give permission to God & Spirit to help us, we admit to ourselves that we can’t do it all & that we need help, we open our selves to accept that help & we become willing to be healed. Asking removes obstacles to our healing. Asking removes obstacles of every kind & believe me, we are full of obstacles.
Unsure of how to ask for help? There is no one special formula for everyone. It’s best to experiment, trying many methods, until you hit upon what works for you. What I have found is that the below methods can all work. It’s a good idea to hold the intent for the less traditional forms of asking/prayer that you are talking to Spirit.
Traditional Prayer: This is probably the form of asking or prayer that is most familiar. This can be a formal memorized prayer or an informal made-up-as-you-go prayer directed to God & said kneeling with hands clasped before you.
Beg & Plead Prayers: This is one of my favorite forms because it has a good track record of working for me. I know it isn’t necessarily Spirit’s favorite. I know this because, more than once, I have been told that “Begging & pleading isn’t necessary” & Spirit one time actually said to me while I was in the midst of this prayer, “Enough with the begging & pleading!” So, it would appear, that it isn’t necessary from Spirit’s viewpoint to beg & plead but I think it can be necessary for us. We are one of the biggest obstacles to receiving what we need & ask. I think that by passionately praying in this way, we convince ourselves of our need, our sincerity & our worthiness to receive. I think this kind of prayer also helps us overcome ego, arrogance & willfulness-major obstacles to moving forward on our path & into wholeness. If you have children (or have seen children in a store!) then you already know how to pull off this prayer. Just think of the last time your kids or maybe you as a kid, begged & pleaded for some special favor.
Meditation/Contemplation: I consider this to be a form of prayer because it encourages communion with Spirit. Where there is communion with God, there is communication – the very definition of prayer. It can be helpful to set an intent for the meditation or to say a prayer before meditating if you have a specific need. This form of prayer also teaches a very special skill that will serve you well if you desire to hear Spirit, that of learning to be still so that you can hear “the still small voice.”
Journal: Keeping a diary or journal is a less traditional method but can easily be adapted to our purpose of asking by simply directing it to God & Spirit. This method is especially helpful for getting the noise out of your head which can lead to feeling more peaceful & centered. Many times, once everything is on paper, you know exactly what you need to do. Writing can bring clarity to your mind & heart & offers another way to learn to hear Spirit.
Talk out loud or in your mind to Spirit/God: I consider that much of my day is spent in prayer because I am often talking in my mind to God or Spirit as I go about my daily life. Sometimes, I am specific about who I am talking to but often it is just to whoever is with me. I think you will find that the more you talk to Spirit in this way, the more you will become aware of Spirit responding.
Talk to your favorite spiritual advisor in the physical or in spirit: Directing your communication to someone you feel that you know, can make it easier to talk & get things off your chest. This can be a minister or spiritual advisor that you know in the physical or it can be someone in spirit such as Jesus, Buddha, etc. Simply hold the intent that through talking to this person, you are talking to God.
Talk to anyone in the physical who will listen to you: This person can be anyone who loves you & whom you love. To keep this from degenerating into gossip & to keep your words from creating what you don’t want, it is very important that you verbally set the intent with this person that you are venting, not gossiping & that you only need them to listen, not solve anything. You must also intend that this verbal communication is to be directed to God/Spirit.
Write a letter: This is similar to journaling but differs in that it is usually specific to a certain need or purpose. It could be compared to writing a prayer down on paper & has the benefit that you can look back on it & see that your prayers are being answered. This would also be a benefit found with journaling. I have had the experience of praying & then forgetting about it. When the answer comes, I almost don’t recognize it as an answer to a prayer!
One last final thought about asking & prayer: Express gratitude in every prayer, no matter what form your prayer takes. Be continuously grateful, even if it seems that you are not being heard or that your prayer requests are not being answered. Gratitude has a similar effect as the Begging & Pleading Prayer in that it removes obstacles to our receiving. Prayers of gratitude & thanksgiving belong in a class all to themselves, so make sure to make time for this.
What has worked best for you? What are your thoughts on prayer? In what other ways have you prayed that I have not listed here? Leave a comment telling us. Looking forward to hearing from you.