“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25
1. Get in touch; “Why am I feeling anxious?”
The answer to this usually isn’t self-evident, so I can’t see what I’m choosing. I can’t change my choices until I’m aware of how I’m choosing. I can’t break an agreement I’m making If I can’t see it.
Depression and anxiety lurk beneath the surface of our awareness, and must be brought out into the light in order to be discerned. Then a “God given” strategy needs to be found, securing relief, restoring hope and joy.
Why are you cast down, O my soul ? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance Ps. 42:5
2. Accept your feelings, without judging yourself.
Feelings aren’t good or bad, they’re just there. I’ve noticed how anxiety is linked to my own invalidation of my feelings. I deny them, judging them as “bad, unacceptable, or not spiritual,” leaving me an unresolved emotional pool that produces anxiety.
I find relief when I give myself permission to feel, then process those feelings in the light of God’s acceptance and mercy, without incriminating myself. God can’t heal what we don’t accept about ourselves. My own self judgement may be feeding my depression.
3. Lower the bar
The first time I sat in front of a counselor, years ago, Donna said, after listening to me for a while, “Dan, you need to lower the bar.” I didn’t know there was a bar, let alone that I could actually lower it. This began a long journey for me, out of perfectionism and performance.
You live anxiously when you’re trying to meet up to a bar that’s unrealistically high. When it’s too high, you don’t breathe in the grace available from God, and it’s all work, with a sense of never “arriving.”
This can come from our family of origin, depressing, and stifling the joy and hope, that could be ours. It’s not as hard as we may be making it, and who wouldn’t be anxious and depressed living under a bar set so ungodly high?
Jesus said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 False yokes can make us anxious, prideful, and legalistic.
What we’re imposing on ourselves, we tend to project onto others.
4. Check your expectations
Most agree that unrealized expectations can feed into anxiety leading to depression.
Who hasn’t met with disappointment in life, from unrealized hopes and dreams about our destiny, status, occupation, or marriage? Who can say “life has worked out the way I expected?” This is a large battleground for depression.
I will live a depressed life, until I can reconcile, and accept reality, as opposed to what I expected, from God, others, and myself. I will experience anxiety when I fight against the “way it is,” as opposed to the “way it should be, or should have been.” I will be ungrateful, withholding from God, demanding a different path, offering psychic resistance, not surrendering.
I may be sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside. We could be cursing our inheritance, demanding something dead or idolatrous, thinking we know better than God, instead of enjoying the path He Himself has laid out, being grateful for it. This can be depressing. David said;
“O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines are fallen in pleasant places; yes I have a good inheritance.” Psalm 16:5,6
5. Release control
Surrendering control to a good God, who knows best, is our journey of faith, spiritual growth, and freedom from our control issues. Identity and self image are part of this, and God is relentless in His pursuit of our hearts. He wants hearts alive to love and mercy, not chained to our own self-enslavement, be it expectations, demands for answers, or attempts at self mastery.
I will be anxious and battle depression if I am “white knuckling it,” trying to maintain control of my life, circumstances, identity, and destiny.
I must surrender to be free from anxiety, trusting the one who feeds the sparrows, and asks “why are you fearful and anxious?” The One who says, “Come unto Me to find rest for your souls.”
I recommend Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God.” A good read. Check out my resource page on this site. My “out of control living series” is born out of our need to surrender control to find peace. Our fear keeps us chained to control and self-protection, afraid to risk faith or love. Our natural mind demands answers and must know “why.” We cannot engineer a risk free deal. “The just shall live by faith.”
I hope this helps, and pray for every reader to find, wisdom, truth, and self awareness, through these words that I hope will bring God close to you. I pray for breakthrough and light bulb moments for every bondage. In Jesus Name, our Redeemer who is mighty!
Leave me some comments. Dan XO