Tag Archives: anxiety

Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part VII – Overcoming Anxiety Through Spiritual Balance

King Canute, also known as Cnut the Great, ruled the North Sea Empire (modern day England, Norway, and Denmark) in the 11th Century. Beloved by his courtiers, he was often lauded as the supreme lord and ruler of the land. One day, the king grew tired of the incessant praise and asked his courtiers to place his throne by the shore during low tide. Then as the tide rose throughout the day, he proceeded to command the tide to stop rising and not to wet his feet and robe. When the tide disobeyed his commands and wet him, he stepped back and said to his courtiers: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.‘”

We can rule over somethings, but there are other things that we have no rule over.

We are spiritual beings endowed with power to rule. At the very beginning, we were empowered to rule all things except one another (Genesis 1:26 NKJV). Then we decided to give up our birth right and so lost power to rule just about all things but ourselves. Since that time early on in the history of mankind, man has been trying to get that power back – to control that which it lost power to control.

To complicate matters a little, though we lost power to rule, we did not lose power to steward (manage).

Finding spiritual balance is about knowing the difference between the things we have power to rule and the things we have power to steward.  In his address to his courtiers, King Canute points out that the things we have rule over pales in comparison to that which we are called to manage. In the rising tide example, we no longer have rule over the tide, but we sure can steward or manage what we do with it.

Spiritual imbalance is trying to rule over what we have been empowered to steward and trying to steward what we have been empowered to rule

We have been empowered to rule our mind and body. We own them and so they are subject to our kingship. Yet sometimes we allow our mind and body to take over. We become a slave to them. This is tantamount to giving up the power we have to rule! When we stop ruling our mind and body is when our lives go out of control!

Practical Application: When your mind starts to think about things that you do not care about, tell your mind to stop it, and then engage your body to take tangible action to change what your mind is thinking about. Engaging your body may mean subjecting one of your five senses to something different. Walk somewhere, listen to something new, look somewhere else, squeeze a stress ball, or go outside and smell the flowers. Do something to change the trajectory of your thinking before it takes over.

Trying to rule what we have been called to manage is playing God. Since we are not God, it leads to high stress and disappointment with very little chance of continued of success. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety and depression

Can we manage our relationships, our future, our health, our finances? Sure we can! Can we rule over these things? No we cannot, since to rule over something means that we can guarantee the outcome.  Therefore, we should not try to rule what you have been called to steward.

Now, the better stewards we become, the more likely we are to experience the outcome we desire. This gives us the impetus to become better stewards by acquiring knowledge, gaining understanding, and acting wisely. Thus, just because we cannot rule something does not mean we should give up on our stewardship.

Rule what you can and manage what you cannot rule

There are three rules I stick to when it comes to balance:

Rule 1: If the things I am anxious over are things I can manage, I don’t get depressed over them but start the journey to manage them better without marrying myself to an outcome (remember that you can’t guarantee an outcome as a steward).

Rule 2: If the things I am anxious over are things things that are in my sphere of rule, I stop allowing what I own to rule over me but learn to how to rule over them.

Rule 3: If the things I am anxious over are things I can neither rule nor manage, then I do not worry about them until they cross the threshold of rule or influence.

Do not fall into the trap that you have power over everything that happens. You know you do not. 

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part VI – Overcoming Anxiety Through Expectation Reset

When I was in 7th grade, my classmate committed suicide after doing poorly on a test. His parents discovered him after they forced his door open to find him strangled by a skipping rope which he used to hang himself. Why would a 12-year old kid take his own life for doing poorly on a test? And why do it before the results of the exam ever came out? While the dynamics of what he did are complex, we know for sure that he elevated the importance of the exam too high. His performance was tied to his worth as a person. Therefore when he did not do well, he considered himself a failure and so became worthless as a person in his own eyes.

We are worth more than what we do or achieve in this life

After his death, many of my classmates recalled that he had been depressed after the test. See, depression comes when we are not where we strongly believe we must be OR things are not the way we believe they must be. Thus, depression attracts those of us who have high and potentially unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Why? It is because when we don’t meet what we expect of ourselves, we feel less than. Our identity and security takes a big hit and we feel we can’t carry on.

Now, having unrealistic expectations that we feel we must meet instead of should meet is dangerous. The unrealistic nature of our expectation means that we exert a lot of time and effort to meet it. The nature of expectation itself means that any failure to meet ‘it’ is blown out of proportion in our mind and heart. When this happens is when we lose perspective and we stop being grateful for the things we should be grateful for. In other words, our unrealistic expectation hijacks our thinking to such an extent that the very things we should be grateful for often become entitlements that no longer deserve our attention.

We should not allow our failure to meet our own expectations hijack our thinking to the extent that those things we should be grateful for become entitlements

Jerry West, the hall of fame basketball player whose silhouette is on the NBA logo, suffered from deep bouts of depression that made him consider suicide, though he had a lot to be thankful for, including a loving family and adoring fans. Turns out that his father left when he was younger. He perhaps had an expectation that is father was going to be there. So he took it to heart when his father was no longer there. Was Jerry West subconsciously trying to prove to his father that he was now good enough so as to try and convince his father to stay? Is this the reason Jerry West was always one of the first to arrive in the gym and last to leave? Though the results of Jerry West’ work ethic was spectacular, the root behind the work ethic may not have been as glamorous.

In life, we should expect nothing and be grateful for everything

 The things we expect and feel entitled to can have a deleterious effect. When we expect nothing, anything we get is a free gift. If we truly see everything good as a gift, we are then able to feel and express gratitude right from our heart.

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part III – Root Cause of Anxiety

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it a few months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.
Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. Click on the following links for the first two installments of the series: Part I & Part II

Root Causes of Anxiety

UNBELIEF: The Greek word for unbelief can be translated as faithlessness. Faithlessness means “Lack of trust” or “No trust”. Where there is no trust, there is a lack of security or insecurity. Now, the thing about insecurity is that it does not like itself…(Selah)…but it is always looking for security. To make itself secure, insecurity will put up walls, try to control every situation, and act in its own self-interest to protect itself.

Put another way, unbelief in the heart of a person leads to insecurity, which may then leads to self-loathing, a controlling spirit, loneliness of heart (due to putting walls up), being critical of oneself, acting selfishly, and not being able to truly connect with others. These things are interconnected and form a vicious cycle that repeat itself time and again – it is the repetition of this cycle that lead to depression (heaviness of the heart) as there seems to be no way out.

FEAR: Biblically, the opposite of fear is love (see 1 John 4:18). Our hearts cannot live in a vacuum. It is either going to be filled with love or it is going to be filled with fear. In fact, it can be said that the absence of love is the presence of fear.

The love that I speak of is not the eros (romantic love), sterego (love between friends), or phileo (brotherly love). The love that I speak of is agape love. This type of love is committed and sacrificial. It is the type of love that is given based on the heart of the giver and not the performance of the givee.  This is the love that makes one feel accepted and gives one a sense of identity.

When those that mean the most to us do not model agape love to us, it creates a void or wound in our hearts. This void or wound tells us that we are not worthy, causes us to try to measure up to a standard that the world throws our way to feel worthy, and causes heaviness of the heart whenever we cannot fill that void with our performance. Depression occurs when we feel rejected…selah…or when whatever gives us a sense of identity is removed.

IGNORANCE: I have heard it said before that ignorance is bliss. I beg to differ. There is nothing bliss about ignorance, for what you don’t know can kill one. The only people that say ignorance is bliss are those that do not know how to respond properly to the knowledge they have acquired.

The problem with ignorance is that it makes us powerless. Being powerless to effect any change, we become slaves to the whims and whams of life. We are tossed to and fro by every way of emotion and become a bit of a piñata. Perhaps the biggest folly of ignorance is that it makes us highly susceptible to believing the lies we tell ourselves, lies others tells us, lies our experiences teach us, and the lies that the devil tells us. These lies themselves can become the root of the fear and insecurity that we exist within.

Conversely, knowledge of the truth will lead to faith, which then shapes the thinking of our heart. This is turn shapes our emotions, action, and results.

The last statement begins the journey into how anxiety may be conquered. Please stand by for the next installment – Overcoming Anxiety

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part II – What Anxiety Does to the Heart

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. For Part I, click here

What Anxiety Does to the Heart

As he thinks in his heart, so is he – Proverbs 23:7

There is a what we think in our mind, then there is what we think in our heart. What we think in our heart is deeper and has a long lasting effect. According to the bible, what we think in our heart is the determining factor on who we become, and by extension, I will add sets the course of our lives.

Point A: The thoughts of our heart holds the power to control the trajectory of our life.

There is no solving the depression issue without solving the heart issue. When anxiety enters the heart, it causes “dis-ease” or “lack of ease” in the heart such that the thoughts of our hearts (what we hold to be true in the depths of our being) begins to stoop (bow down, pay homage, or otherwise worships) to anything else other than the truth.

Point B: Depression is not a disease (dis-ease) of the mind, but it is a disease of the heart. Hence it is less about what you think is true in your mind, but more about what you believe to be the truth in your heart.

Please read the next sections very carefully and re-read as often as needed until you truly understand:

What is true is different than what is truth! A truth is a fact that NEVER  changes regardless of situation, circumstance, or how much time has elapsed. Something that is true on the hand is a fact, but that fact can change with time, circumstance, or situation. Another way of differentiating between true and truth is this: What is true is temporary but what is truth is permanent.

In our inner ideal world, truths become laws or principles that form the bedrock of our beliefs, shape our identity, and mold the way we see our world. Note that from a biblical point of view, since God holds all truth, only He should be able determine our truths.

Unfortunately, there are those times when our inner world becomes less than ideal. It is in these moment that anxiety can kick in and then things other than the truth begin to shape our belief, identity, and the way we see our / the world.

Point C: Anxiety in the heart turns an unpleasant temporary fact into our truth.

Once an unpleasant temporary fact turns into our truth in our hearts, our heart begins to interpret the present through the lens of the past unpleasant fact, thereby mortgaging our futures. Another way to say the same thing is this:  Anxiety in our heart causes us to get stuck in a moment / temporary experience, and then interprets all future possibilities through the lens of that past moment / temporary experience. This is why changing environment has little lasting impact on depression sufferers although it may offer temporary respite.

Note: In the above paragraph, there is a difference between the truth and our truth

Worse still, anxiety in our hearts keep us in an infinite loop where our unpleasant past experience causes us to have unpleasant present experiences, which we then remember in the future as unpleasant past experiences.

If you can relate to this, then it is very possible that there is some life experience, statement, situation, or condition that may or may not be true (factual) that you have taken to be truth (the truth for you being something you deeply believe that in your heart you truly think will never change).

Point D: We should not let what is true explain the truth, but we should let the truth explain what is true.Ask yourself these questions – What do I truly believe in my heart? When did I start to believe it? Is what I believe in my heart truly permanent or it is temporary? Are my believes in line with the truth?

It is possible that you anxiety exists where your truth is a lie and not the truth – when we believe a lie, we live a lie. And that lie can steal our joy. It is only the truth that will set us free.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – The Root Cause of Anxiety

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part I – Root Cause Of Depression

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Root Cause of Depression

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad

– Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)

 The wisest man (outside of Jesus) that ever lived reveals to us that the root cause of depression is anxiety!

But before we go further into this topic, it is important to note a few things:

  • The original Hebrew text reads something like this ‘Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop’.
  • The meaning of ‘heaviness’ is sorrow, anxiety, and fear.
  • The meaning of ‘stoop’ is to bow down, pay homage, or worship

Another thing we must note is this: The passage says ‘anxiety in the heart of man”. It does NOT say “anxiety in the soul of man”.

That is to say that to feel anxiety or sorrow in our soul is part of the human experience – there is nothing wrong with you if your soul experiences episodes of anxiety from time to time. This is normal, for there are situations and conditions that can bring on the onset of anxiety.

Point A: You are not abnormal or broken because you experiences episodes of anxiety

If you think you are abnormal or broken because you experience episodes of anxiety, consider that what you are saying is that you want to do better than the most perfect man that ever lived, Jesus, for even he experienced anxiety. Consider the following scriptures:

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch” – Mark 14:23

Do you see that? Even Jesus was sorrowful in his soul when he faced a very difficult situation. But this is not the only time that Jesus was troubled! The bible tells us that Jesus was also troubled and wept when others were sorrowful for the death of Lazarus (see John 11).

Point B: It is okay to tell others that you are suffering from anxiety and to ask for help

The scripture in Mark 14:23 tells us that Jesus told his disciples that he was exceedingly sorrowful. He did not hide when he was going through his deep bout of anxiety but told those whom he trusted in his inner circle. Then he further asked them to help. Specifically, he asked them to stay and pray for him.

With those two points behind us, it is important to say that the type of anxiety that causes depression is the anxiety that enters into our heart. Why is that important? It is because the heart is what ultimately drives our actions through our mind.

Point C: We do not always do what is in our mind, but we always do something when that something has alignment in both our heart and our mind. Hence, anxiety is deadly when it enters our heart for it ultimately controls our behavior.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – What Anxiety Does To Your Heart!

 

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Symptoms of Rebellion – Part I

In some ways, animals are way smarter than we are. When it comes to rebellion, there are quite a number of things we can learn from them. Take a horse for example. Once a horse is ‘broken’, it will comply with it’s master and will be obedient. Not so with us humans, no matter how many times we are broken, we have this knack to stray back into our wild and rebellious state.

While we have the free will to be wild and free, and it may seem like fun to be a rebel and to decide our own fate, the problem is that we are terrible masters of our own lives. I remember when I decided to do my own thing – be the master of my domain as it were – it ended up with me eventually crying to God for help for I had made a mess of my domain.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: When we decide to do our own thing instead of the God thing is when we find that life will do us dirty

While God will not stop us from taking the reigns of our lives, He does want us to know the kind of life we are signing up for when we decide to rebel against His lordship. Here are three common symptoms of rebellion.

Symptom A: Faint Heart (Isaiah 1:5)

Heart beat signifies the presence of life. The fading of a heart beat represents that a person’s life is slipping away from them. So it is with us spiritually!! Since it is the Spirit of God that gives life, the fading of our heart beat spiritually means that the Holy Spirit is losing its influence over our life.

Just as a fading heart beat indicates that we are slipping from life to death, the loss of the influence of the Holy Spirit over our lives represents the slippage from light to darkness; from the kingdom of God to the kingdom of the world!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: A person with a faint heart is a person who has begun to lose the experience of the treasures of God’s kingdom – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control

Instead of the wonders of the Kingdom, rebellion causes us to experience the blunders of the world – this includes jealousies, contentions, wrath, hatred, and all manner of undesirable traits.

Question to Ponder: Is my heart beat strong or has the beat of the Holy Spirit within me become faint?

Symptom B: Sick Head (Isaiah 1:5)

Our head is our thinker. For our head to be sick means that our thinking has become warped. It our thinking becomes warped, our behavior and actions will follow suit. If there is one major symptom of a sick head, it is paranoia.

Once in the throes of paranoia, the head makes up fantastic stories, delusions, and conspiracy theories that all make sense in the person whose head is sick. Perhaps no finer example of someone who had a sick head exists than that of King Herod the Great.

Another major symptom of a sick head is anxiety. I once heard someone say ‘everyone worries’. Well, i say just because everyone worries does not mean that everyone should. Both Jesus and Apostle Paul tells us not be anxious. Anxiety comes when our thinker is not being led by faith but is being influenced by fear. Hence, we see that fear, insecurities, and anxiety are symptoms of a sick head

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: While faith makes one heal, fear makes one sick

Question to Ponder: Am I anxious because I have rebelled against the truth of God’s word

Symptom C: Body full of untreated wounds, bruises, and sores (Isaiah 1:6)

Imagine a person who is covered in bruises, wounds, and sores. Such a person is in constant pain and would not like to be touched. So it is with spiritually with a rebellious person. Such a person is wounded, carried around pains from the past, and does not allow others to get close to them lest those people touch their sore spots. And because there is no part of them that is sound, such people are very easily offended and hurt.

Now, nobody goes through life without having some bumps and scrapes along the way. But for the whole body to be covered in untreated bruises, wounds, and sores as Isiah 1:6 puts it is a different matter! For the whole body to be covered means insinuates that the person continues to make the same mistakes time and again. For these wounds, bruises, and sores to remain untreated insinuates that the person has not bothered paying a visit to the physician – Jesus is the physician (Luke 5:31)

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Life has enough vicissitudes of its own; why add to the troubles of life by adding our own rebellion

Question to Ponder: Why am I further wounding myself when I can submit to the One who can heal my wounds?

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10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part II

Part I of this blog discusses how living in Disguise, having a sense of Entitlement, foolish Pride, Rebellion against the truth, and Envy promote depression in our lives. Another 3 character traits that tend to alienate us and promote depression are as follows.

(6) SELFISHNESS: Selfishness makes it “all about us”. It is trait that comes out us when we operate out of fear and greed. Society has done a great job hiding this trait under a rug of vernacular. Instead of saying we are only thinking of ourselves, we say that we are acting independently. Instead of admitting that we looking out only for our own self-interest, we say that we are looking our for our own security.

Good relationships require give and take. With selfishness, there is no giving…there is only taking. This is why selfishness never results in happiness.

Nothing breaks that cycle of selfishness more than engaging in giving and serving others – especially when the person does not deserve it. Just try it today, go over to someone who does not deserve something and make their day. Watch the smile on their face; watch joy fill their heart as you tell them there is no catch. In truth, when we engage in ‘catch-less’ giving, we receive more than we bargain for. There is something about selflessness that fills us up with joy and happiness. Thus while selfishness sucks the life out of us, selflessness rewards us with the gift of life. So ask yourself how you can make someone’s day today. Then be intentional to make it happen.

If you do not believe me, then believe the wisest man who ever lived. Jesus said: Give and it shall be given unto you. If you want love and happiness in your life, give love and happiness.

(7) STUBBORNNESS: The difference between determination and stubbornness is the state of the heart from which the action comes. While determination is born out of good heart, stubbornness is born out of an evil heart. While determination is positive, stubbornness is negative.  Stubbornness is what makes us dig our heels in – sticking for things we know are not right. Stubbornness is what causes us to never admit our wrongdoing or our wrong ways of thinking.

Setting a wall up against the will of God , moving against his spiritual laws, and not admitting when we are wrong are surefire ways to be depressed. Just ask Judas Iscariot. He stubbornly set himself against Jesus even after it was clear to him that Jesus knew he going to betray him. The result: His ensuing deep anxiety and remorse led him to hang himself. Other stubborn guys we know of are Pharaoh of Egypt, King Saul, and Jonah. They all suffered for it.

Lets not be like all  these guys who suffered deep anxiety.  Let us not hang our joy and happiness on a tree. Let us be determined to do what is right and let us be quick to turn towards what is good. We ought to accept being called a flip-flopper and do what is right than be known as a resolute people who steadfastly drove their lives off into the gorge of remorse and anxiety just because they were trying to save their image.

To win yourself off stubbornness, remind yourself that you do not have to be right all the time.

(8) INSOLENCE: Being loud, rude, and otherwise obnoxious wins us no favors in life. In fact, it tends to alienate us from peaceable people in the society. It causes unnecessary dissension and strife.

Since birds of a feather flock together, it is highly unusual to find insolent people walking around with peaceful people. At some point, insolent people will be rude to one another and take offense. Hence, the end result of insolence is that we miss out on the joy our relationships should bring us. That in itself can cause us a deep sense of anxiety as the people we love to get out of dodge for their own peace of mind.

In other words, it is difficult for people to love you for you if you are rude, crude, loud, and obnoxious. If they do, they would rather love you for you at a distance. Thus, it will be difficult for you to walk in fellowship with others when you are insolent. Once fellowship is removed, watch out. You are prime candidate for negative thoughts and the other tricks of Satan. Don’t I say “I don’t need anybody”. Everybody needs somebody.

Friend, lets us remember that we are to exhort and speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). Only then will we have positive and meaningful fellowship with one another.

 

 

 

 

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