In Part 1, we evaluated the truth about how anxiety and addictions can be intertwined. In Part 2, we made a case for the need to change thoughts and actions. However, it’s important to note that changing deeply rooted (and especially addictive!) thinking and behavior patterns usually requires large doses of patience, intentionality, and hard work.
Digging Out Problem Thinking Patterns
It’s been said that “fears are the stories we tell ourselves.” In order for a person to change the way he or she thinks, those “stories,” or problem thought patterns, need to be brought out into the open and identified. As we hold them up to the light of reality and truth, we realize that the fearful stories we tell ourselves are often fictional — or at least unreliable as prophets. Beyond the issue with the veracity of fearful thoughts, they’re often just plain negative, robbing us of the moment’s joy. As one author explains with this simple mathematical formula “Reality – Expectations = Happiness Reality.”
Those whose thought patterns and expectations are consistently negative may think that they’re escaping the danger of disappointment, because they completely expect things to turn out badly and might experience relief when a situation doesn’t turn out to be quite as badly as expected. But those negative expectations can just as easily (or even more so) rob us of our joy.
Replacing Old Patterns with New Ones
Of course, we can’t just stop thinking — we need to replace the negative, anxious thoughts with other ones. God’s antidote to fear is not to exert greater effort in controlling circumstances; instead, it’s having faith that He is in control and we can rest in that (Matthew 6:34). As we focus our minds on Who God is and all the good gifts He gives us, we will enjoy the peace and rest and joy God has for us; it is a sowing-and-reaping situation (James 1:17, Psalm 55:22, Isaiah 26:3). The wearying physical effects of anxiety will, over time, dissipate as we follow God’s prescription (Matthew 11:28).
Actively Engaging in the Fight
This isn’t a physical fight, but a spiritual one (2 Corinthians 10:4, Ephesians 6). At the same time, the tension of anxiety coupled with the powerful pull of addictive behaviors can make physical outlets quite beneficial. Physical exercise can be a productive way to use up all that fearful energy, but it’s important that as your body moves, your mind moves in productive ways, as well.
You can create physical triggers for thoughts by always meditating on a specific truth, passage of Scripture, or collection of gifts for which to thank God as you do it. You can also intentionally communicate and create in ways that help cement those truths into your mind. Writing them down, telling others about them, or even singing or creating art based on them can be helpful. The more senses we employ, the more likely we are to cement these things in our minds and have them to draw on the next time fear attacks.