When anxiety strikes, a sense of foreboding comes upon you even though you can't identify what's actually wrong.
We singles are more prone to these panic attacks because we spend so much time alone, replaying conversations and often dreading the future. This nervousness is frustrating because most of the time you can't put your finger on the thing that's bothering you.
It's almost as if we can't tolerate calmness for very long. A little voice comes out nowhere and whispers, "Something bad is going to happen."
If you listen carefully, you'll notice things competing for your attention are getting louder and more shrill.
TV and radio commercials are prime offenders. Music and jingles screech. Images on TV and the Internet come at you like the video equivalent of a machine gun.
All this racket contributes to our tension. Without consciously being aware, we get tuned up to a state of agitation. Our minds are going at warp speed.
If all this weren't bad enough, news reports are overhyped, as if every story were a sign of the Apocalypse. What next?
These messages have a way of sneaking up on us, and before we know
it, we're on a runaway train of dread. We don't know what we're
dreading, but we're pretty sure there's something to be afraid of.
As soon as this unwanted thought process starts, it's wise to see it for what it really is: our overactive imagination. Sometimes it comes on us as worry or concern about specific "what ifs." But anxiety is a different animal. It's just a general feeling of uneasiness, an apprehension that disaster is just around the corner, even if things are going well right now and there's no factual basis to think that will change.
I don't know what it is about anxiety, but it seems to feed upon itself. Like a snowball rolling downhill, it gets bigger and bigger until it's out of control. When you recognize it right at the beginning, it's easier to stop it before it gets rolling.
You've had this sinking feeling often enough to know it when it starts. Instead of going with it the next time, make a conscious effort to STOP and ask yourself "What's going on?"
The very act of analyzing the situation will help you question the need for it. Unless you actually enjoy being scared by nothing, putting your anxiety under this magnifying glass and examining it robs it of its power.
I don't like to attribute all our negative emotions to Satan, but the truth is when anxiety strikes, he or one of his demonic helpers could be behind it.
Many people think that's silly. They have consigned Satan to the realm of fairy tales and myth. We Christians can't do that because Jesus himself battled Satan and warned us against him. You only need to look at all the evil going on in the world today to realize there's more behind it than meets the eye.
One of Satan's oldest and most effective tricks is to take our eye off God. He would like to push God entirely out of the picture and out of our lives. If he can't do that, then he tries to get us to question God:
"God won't help me." "God doesn't care." "My problems are too small for God to bother with." "My situation is beyond help."
Those are all self-defeating thoughts Satan just loves to have us think. I know, because I've had them over the years. Satan must delight when we make God small and weak.
Sadly, none of us, including me, trust God as much as we should. Doubt creeps in and we focus more on past disasters rather than past victories. I'll bet Satan loves that, too.
Trust is something we need to work on all our life. But here's the thing: If we Christians trust God with something as important as our salvation, shouldn't we trust him with our day-to-day life as well?
When anxiety strikes--and it still does--I try to remember that God brought me this far, and he'll stay with me until I'm home with him. I haven't always liked the outcome of some of my past troubles, but I'll understand it all when I get to heaven. You will too.
God is the Source of calm and security. He will always be the One to take refuge in when our life seems spinning out of control.
In the meantime, let's practice faith and trust instead of anxiety. And let's remember to shift our focus from the unknown to the One we know is on our side.
Editor's Note: This site is not a substitute for treatment by a board-certified mental health professional. Seek such help if you need it.