For Serious Christian Growth... Sink Your Roots into the Word of God!


Recommended Reading

Learning to Live Above Severe Anxiety: Changing Beliefs
By Paula J. Marolewski

The following journal entries were written as an adjunct to the book Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights and Practical Help for Severe Anxiety, a Bible study on severe anxiety. Here, you will find additional information about my personal experience with severe anxiety, focusing on what I have found particularly helpful. My prayer is that these entries will help and encourage you if you or someone you love is struggling with severe anxiety.

Positive Self-Talk

I remember my first thoughts when my counselor encouraged me to engage in positive self-talk and affirmations. Things like,

  • “I can handle today and whatever comes my way.”
  • “Feelings do not dictate reality.”
  • “There is always enough time to do the will of God.”
  • “I am allowed to enjoy life and relax.”

I thought to myself, “It seems silly to repeat these things in my head! Why should I go and purposefully say them?”

What I slowly realized was that we are always thinking – “carrying on a conversation” – inside our heads. And the principle of “garbage in, garbage out” holds true. If I allow myself to dwell on my anxieties, I will act on those thoughts. If I repeat positive affirmations and re-state the truth constantly, I will act on those thoughts.

Positive self-talk isn’t an internal pep rally – it’s a way of forming new mental and emotional habits based on objective truth, rather than based on subjective (and often negative) emotions.

Resignation vs. Acceptance

It had never occurred to me how much certain attitudes add to or subtract from your stress. Here was a key one: resignation vs. acceptance.

  • Resignation is passive, leading to trapped feelings.
    “This is the way it is, I cannot change it, I am trapped, life is hopeless.”
  • Acceptance is active, leading to positive actions.
    “This is the way it is, I can change myself and/or my circumstances, I am not trapped, I can move forward with hope.”

Resignation brings anxiety. Acceptance brings hope.

Great Expectations

A very good friend of mine taught me a piece of important advice:

“Satisfaction is based on expectations.”

Put simply, if we expect too much, we are setting ourselves up to be dissatisfied. If we have realistic expectations, we are much more likely to feel fulfilled, happy, and contented, because our expectations can be, and often are, met.

Unrealistic expectations play a large role in my struggle with anxiety. Namely:

  • I expect too much from myself – expecting to feel good all the time, achieve success at everything I put my hand to, and be liked by everybody.
  • I expect too much from life – expecting that things will always go my way, from sunny weather on the weekends to having financial security handed to me on a silver platter.

And yes …

  • I expect too much from God – expecting that he will smooth the way before me at all times, flood my life with happiness, and always comfort me with an all-but-tangible sense of his presence.

Such expectations are setting me up to be disappointed … and stressed. And that’s because I can’t always deliver on what I expect from myself, much of life is outside of my control, and God isn’t a genie in a lamp waiting to fulfill my every wish.

In order to control my anxiety – and, incidentally, live a much more peaceful, contented, and fulfilled life – I have had to re-form my expectations. Not lower them – that is important to understand. That is, I’m not allowing myself to become a slouch, or taking a fatalistic attitude toward life, or acting like the deists, who figured that God set everything in motion and then said good-bye.

No, I am changing my expectations – making them more realistic, putting them back into the real pulse of life:

  • I am expecting great things of myself – namely, that I will be and do my best. I don’t worry anymore about whether I will fail, because I know already that I will.
  • I am expecting great things from life – so I am looking for opportunities to be thankful and to serve God. But I also recognize that we live in a fallen world where bad things happen.
  • And I am decidedly expecting great things from God, because he is a God who has promised great things and delivers on every promise.

Such great expectations set me up for great satisfaction – because they are grounded firmly in reality.

Copyright © 2009, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.
The above article may NOT be reprinted.
Fire In My Mind Cover

Interested in learning more about severe anxiety?

Read Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights & Practical Help for Severe Anxiety. Fire in My Mind is a unique and deeply moving Bible study on severe anxiety, providing personal insights, practical advice, and profound scriptural meditations on eight key aspects of anxiety: racing thoughts, fear, shame, irrationality, doubt, anger, exhaustion and loneliness.

About Paula
Bible Studies
Nonfiction Books
Novels & Books
Christian Education
Christian Growth
Christian Life
Church Life
Reprint Request
The Sink Your Roots Blog
Contact Us
Follow us on Facebook!
Copyright © 2012 Paula Marolewski. All rights reserved.
Web site design by Neptune Moon Design.