The Art of Chill
Why I Don’t Let Anxiety Control Me, and How I Finally Let Go.
The world is on a mission to derail your happiness and fulfillment at every turn; fighting back is crucial. Dust off your spiritual weapons and get to work.
My life is a typical ongoing fluctuation of highs and lows. I’ve lost people I loved desperately, I’ve made colossal mistakes, I’ve had exhilarating achievements. But what stands out in my mind looking back on the past three-plus decades is the stark contrast in the before and after; once I realized I was letting other people have the power to dictate my frame of mind instead of allowing God to determine my value and worth.
Insecurity will cause you to base your value on the opinion of other people. When you’re not confident in who you are, you’ll have a tendency to rely on others to tell you what your worth is. There are a lot of issues that can arise when you put yourself in that position, not the least of which is — other people can lie to you. They’re imperfect, so their thoughts and opinions are also imperfect, and can’t be the measure with which you determine your value.
Why give someone that much power?
I was about 30 years old when I had the biggest “Red Pill / Blue Pill Matrix Moment” of my life. I was in a particularly dramatic personal situation where someone I loved deeply had been cultivating an environment of tension and anxiety inside of me for several years. I didn’t recognize in the midst of the chaos that they had ill intentions, and it cost me an unbelievable amount of heartache. At one point, I told them I wanted to cut and dye my hair. They excitedly jumped on board with the plan. I chopped 10 inches off and dyed it blonde. I really loved the look, they loved the look. They told me it was beautiful, I believed them. I thought it was fun and different, and I was trying to make some big changes in my life so it seemed fitting.
About a month later, they let it drop casually in conversation that their favorite part of my hair was that it made me less attractive and they thought that was good for me.
Someone I loved and trusted had betrayed me in the worst way, purposeful sabotage. The shock and hurt at that moment was overbearing, but I realized that right then how truly imperfect people are. I realized I had given someone the power to determine the way I feel about myself, and this person was woefully inadequate. Suddenly, the veil had been removed and I could see clearly. This wasn’t an isolated problem. Immediately I knew I needed a heart change. I started to pray more fervently, and I did a serious audit of my life.
I poured myself into my Bible, and read everything I could find about self-worth, self-esteem, and value. I watched self-help videos on YouTube, I read Beth Moore’s So Long, Insecurity (again). After 30 years, I became determined to beat back this demon once and for all. My eyes were open and I knew I couldn’t go it alone, I had to use spiritual weapons and employ my greatest ally — God.
I also did an audit of my life. I realized that I hadn’t just let this person slip through the cracks. I had a serious relationship problem across the board. I’d somehow surrounded myself with people who were beneath the caliber of person I wanted to become. I was in constant company with folks who were dragging me down instead of building me up. I was allowing them to steal my joy in the name of friendship and acceptance. I was afraid of being alone, so I wasn’t being careful about who I let into my inner circle. I slowly but deliberately started to cut them out. If a relationship was a burden instead of a blessing, I put an end to it.
I took a social media break, I joined a Bible study group, and I poured into myself. I started to explore the person that I was versus the person I desired to be. I did mountains of research and started changing my life little by little, one new piece of the puzzle at a time until it started to more closely resemble the life I actually wanted.
After the reorganization of my personal and social life, and going full-force into warrior prayer mode; two other things made all the difference in the way I handled and experienced stress and anxiety.
- I pinpointed the root cause of my stress and anxiety and set out to conquer these things one at a time. Things that used to give me happiness, purpose, and fulfillment, were now burdens. I kept getting stuck mentally because I wasn’t evolving. Just because something is a good fit or makes you happy, doesn’t mean that will ring true for the rest of your life. I had been treading water and for a long time, I’d forgotten I could just swim to a more shallow pool for a respite before heading out in a new direction. When I was in grade-school I always wanted to be in theater and choir. But I played basketball and I was fairly good at it. Everyone told me how good I was and that I could never quit. I believed what everyone else told me, and I became afraid to do what my heart wanted. I was stuck for 10 years doing something I didn’t love anymore and missed the opportunity to explore and cultivate my heart’s desires.
- I changed my perspective. I realized I’d been selfish, looking at everything through the lens of “How will this affect me?” I started trying to see a bigger picture. Most things that happen are insignificant and unworthy of impacting your mood. I was giving the same power to circumstance and chance to dictate my worth and value as I was other people. In the midst of this epiphany, I came across a video entitled, First World Problems Read by Third World People. It broke my heart to see how spoiled I’d become, and I sat out to conquer my mindset and reset my perspective.
What does the Bible say about it all?
Planting Godly seeds and developing deep roots was the only way I could make a permanent change. Ensuring God was the source of my joy, fulfillment, and purpose was the most necessary part of my mental transformation. Filling myself with His wisdom daily in Bible reading and prayer made the most significant difference in my journey. Society’s resistance to prayer and relational conversation with God is interesting because science tells us that people who pray regularly are happier and healthier than those who don’t. Through this process, your stress levels are lowered, your life expectancy increases, and your chance of developing a chronic illness decreases. Prayer is the easiest yet most overlooked action we can take to ensure we have a more fulfilling life on Earth.
Prayer resets and stabilizes your thought process. Your thoughts will influence your feelings and behavior and determine the course of your actions. Our Creator knows this and implores us to think positive, Godly thoughts. The Bible has examples scattered throughout its pages teaching the same lesson. Blessings accompany positive thoughts, but negative thinking can be a person’s downfall.
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:8)
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” -Solomon in Proverbs (17:22)
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” -Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (4:31–32)
We live in a fallen world, your life isn’t going to be perfect, but you can still be happy.
It’s important to remember that despite safe-guarding in multiple ways, things aren’t always going to work out the way you want. There is still going to be heartache, and despair at times. But thankfully, God has overcome the world. And living under His banner will allow you to see the blessings through the troubles and trials that we experience on Earth.
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Secret Coran-Stacy is an author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and artist living the dream as a middle class suburbanite in Central Arkansas.