My writing journey has given me a new appreciation for people who feel anxious. The uncertainty of what people will think of my work and whether it will sell feed my insecurities. A colleague recently told me this: "We writers have two fears. On the one hand, we're afraid no one will read our writing. On the other hand, we fear they will!"
When coaching people who are anxious, it sometimes helps to allow the person to describe what makes them feel up tight. Often we concoct and fear scenarios that are unlikely to occur. So worrying about them only expends energy on a figment of our imagination. Talking it through can reveal the futility of our thoughts.
One relevant passage on anxiety comes from the Sermon on the Mount. The heading preceding it reads "Do Not Worry."
Sure. Easier said than done. Tell that to someone who has experienced a trauma they don't want to relive. Or to someone who triggers more easily for metabolic reasons. Or to someone whose inner thoughts are now splayed on paper for the entire world to read. Catch my drift? The thoughts that invoke fear don't need to be rational to trigger an adverse internal reaction, be it emotional, physical, or both.
How do we train our mind to ferret out what is real from what isn't?
First, maybe we ought to make sure we're not playing the comparison game. Are we evaluating ourself based on others around us? That's hazardous because we're wired uniquely. We can only perform within the context of our own gifts and calling to honor the One who made us. Validation needs to come from God, not other people.
So, for clarity and relief, we seek the truth. Maybe after a deep breath.
The essence of Jesus's sermon on worrying is that God is in control. He has our back. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He's made a provision for us and has great plans for our future.
So, what can go wrong? In our humanity, we respond, "plenty."
But if God's Spirit lives inside us, we can stop to ponder His truth, to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. What can go wrong? We might otherwise respond, "Nothing that God - who conquered death - can't help me handle." He's bigger than any problem that might come up, whether it is real or contrived. He's been there, done that. And He holds those who know Him in the palm of His hand.
Maybe having someone read and review my novel won't be so bad after all. It's not like I haven't had experts help me along the way. If they thought it was bunk, they would've told me so - and sometimes did until I fixed it. So I'm taking deep breaths these days, anxious - errr rather - looking forward to what God is going to do with my meager offering. Besides, the whole world isn't going to read it!
As the Apostle Paul once said: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."