I think I have invented a couple new words! Well, not really new words but rather a combination of already-existing words. I’ll tell you what they are in just a paragraph or two, but first I want to let you know how this came about.
Recently, in a series of teaching on Philippians at church, our pastor has talked about being thankful in all things and all the time. It sounds simple enough, right? Thankfulness is something I’ve been practicing a lot over the past year. God has done some profoundly amazing things in my life and it has been easy to be thankful for it. But what about when things aren’t going the way I would like? Right now I have a cold – just a run of the mill spring cold – and I find it is a little more difficult to be thankful for some things. Even after all of the miracles I have seen and experienced, I still find myself grouchy and Irritable when my nose is stuffy and I have a headache. So I have to work a bit harder for an “attitude of gratitude”. At this moment, I’m thankful that my plugged ears have opened a bit so I can better hear one of my favorite songs that is playing on the radio.
In my history with anxiety and agoraphobia, gratitude is something that has been in short supply at times. One of the hardest times for me to be thankful about anything is when I’m dealing with severe anxiety. A panic attack makes it difficult to focus on the most basic things – even breathing; so pausing to be thankful has never really come to mind in that situation.
I still get anxious occasionally, just like anyone. As I’m learning life without agoraphobia, I’m filling my toolbox with several things that help me to calm down when the anxiety starts to take over – reminding myself that it is okay to feel some anxiety, bilateral stimulation (tapping for me), listening to worship music, recalling and reciting the promises of God from scripture, 4-4-4 breathing and more. And now I’m adding to that list being thankful, which brings me to my “new” words – thanxiety and thanxious. I’m sure you can see what I did there. I’m going to work on being thankful before the anxiety gets out of control.
I think of thanxiety, or being thanxious, similar to the 5-4-3-2-1 technique of calming anxious situations. In this, you find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can touch and one thing you can taste. This is a great technique to which you can add 6 things you are thankful for. Or maybe you can only think of one thing, and that’s okay. Focusing on thankfulness, even in a very difficult situation, may be just what it takes to slow down those anxious thoughts.
Like I said, it is hard to find things to be thankful for when you are anxious or despairing. I encourage you to look hard, because there is always something. One of my favorite bands currently is Cain. They have a song called “I’m so Blessed” and in a remixed versions of it, the lyrics say “whether it’s your best day, your worst day, some Tuesday or your birthday; every day’s a good day, now let me tell you why, you’ve got air in your lungs, you’ve got blood in your body, you are a child of God, c’mon and sing it somebody.” It is a good reminder that we have something for which to be thankful for every day.
I understand debilitating fear and the hopelessness it can bring. I have been there and have experienced very dark days where I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone find gratitude. If that is you, please reach out to me or to someone. Don’t dwell in that hopelessness – I care about you and want to pray for and encourage you. Oh, I’m also thankful for you!
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