Ending and Beginning: Worry

This week, Dan continues a conversation with his wife, Becky Allender, about how we end and begin a year by addressing the prevalence of anxiety both within our own lives and the world around us. How do we confront our worry and patterns of circular thinking in order to move into the future with a greater sense of joy?

Dan recounts his experience of witnessing Becky overcome anxiety in the realm of public speaking. In response, Becky acknowledges that it took “some gymnastics” to get to a place where she did not feel as anxious before walking on stage. She also mentions a verse, Philippians 4:6, which is often brought up in conversations about anxiety.

However, Dan cautions the use of this verse as it can be used to “clobber” those who are anxious by those who are not experiencing anxiety. “The idea of hearing Philippians 4 and assuming ‘my anxiety goes away’ is not … what Paul is inviting us to engage.”

The thought of trying not to be anxious almost always engenders a kind of anxiety.

Both Dan and Becky talk about their different experiences with anxiety and worry, and how Becky, in particular, has done work to engage what has “stolen her joy.”

Dan: “Performance is a key element to the issue of how we often feel anxiety. Performance that we fear will be in the middle of a kind of disaster, the worst-case scenario is going to occur, and generally, a lot of times, what we’re afraid of is humiliation and shame.”

Dan then shifts the conversation to talk about how anxiety is often based on past experiences which we then project into the future as a “worst-case scenario.” This anxiety steals our sense of authority, power, and creativity.

Becky gives listeners a simple breathing practice to help overcome anxiety: breathe in for five counts, hold the breath, and exhale for longer than five counts. This practice helps alleviate physical stress reactions in the body.

Dan: “By tending to the small, faithfully, it’s a premise that is so essentially biblical—God does not give us the large until we are found faithful with the small. Doing just a few kind things for ourselves opens the door to be able to make a move.”

“What would it mean for you to begin the process of thinking about what a new year, a new decade could actually look like for you?”