As a young girl Jenny grew up in a home with an abusive mother who unleashed on her verbal and physical assaults. While her mother was being abusive Jenny's father sat by passively and didn't act to protect his daughter. Instead after the abuse was finished he would take Jenny to get something to eat and buy her gifts. What Jenny's father taught her was that food and shopping are acceptable ways to soothe herself whenever she faced stressful or unpleasant situations. These habits left Jenny dealing with serious weight issues and financial troubles throughout her life.
All of us soothe ourselves when our anxiety levels are high. Healthy ways of soothing include: exercising, reading, listening to music, gardening, and mediation. However many people turn to destructive behaviors in an attempt to soothe themselves such as alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, excessive shopping, food, and overworking.
Most of the anxiety we experience is the result of fear. We spend far too much time worrying about the future or reliving painful memories of the past. Soon we are overwhelmed with racing, negative thoughts that require us to take action to reduce them (often through negative behaviors).
However, instead of turning to destructive behavioral patterns we can seek to reduce our anxiety by challenging and replacing our negative self talk with empowering and positive thoughts.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
When faced with negative, racing thoughts use a thought-stopping technique such as envisioning a stop sign. This slows down your thought process and allows you to become conscious of the negatively, therefore preventing it from getting out-of-control. Once you have gained awareness of your negative thoughts, grab hold and remove them from your mind. However it is critical that you replace the negative thoughts with more positive thoughts. As the Matt Redman song says there are 10,000 reasons for us to feel blessed.
“For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.”
Soothe yourself by looking inward and take note of the blessings around you -- blessings that are often missed because we are too busy focusing on the negative aspects of our lives. We focus on minor worries and concerns that lead us to lose focus of the reasons to be thankful. Our lives may be far from perfect but Jesus tells us not to expect perfection in this fallen world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
There is no better way to recognize and appreciate the blessings we have received then to strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ. For when we walk closely with our Lord and Savior and build a strong emotional attachment with the Holy Spirit we become not only aware of the good things in our lives but understand that Christ is there to comfort us during those difficult times.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30
Next time you need soothing turn to the one source that will never fail you – turn to Jesus.