Tools for Dealing with Anxiety – Part 5: The Spiritual Dimension

Tools for Dealing with Anxiety – Part 5: The Spiritual Dimension

How do you view your place in the world? Do you see yourself as a helpless victim? Do you have gratitude for what you have? Are you concerned about what others have? Do you look for ways to practice kindness even if only in small ways? When I talk about the spiritual dimension of an individual’s life I am not talking about organized religion. Although this may be important to you, and I do not dismiss or think negatively about it, my focus is on the inner spiritual life of the individual and how we manifest it in the world aside from formal organized religion.

We are all creatures with a spirit. Whether we believe that spirit to be an entity that exists outside the body or whether we identify our spirit as that inner most, essential part of our being that makes us uniquely who we are, we all have an inner voice that we identify with. This inner voice, or spirit, can either be fed and allowed to flourish or it can be starved and allowed to die.

When we are feeling anxiety, and feeding that anxiety, we are poisoning the soul with negative feelings. The soul (or spirit – I will use both interchangeably) cannot flourish in this negative milieu. We must feed the soul with positive feelings, intentions, and actions.

Gratefulness

Practicing gratefulness is a powerful food for the soul. It is the recognition that along side our suffering there also exist some good. It can be hard to see the good in light of the suffering, but it is essential. By focusing on all that is good in our lives, all that we have to be thankful for, in spite of what is wrong or deficient in our lives, we turn the soul to that which is positive and good. Look around and find the small things to be grateful for. You are alive. You live free of the fear of war. You have food and shelter. You have the opportunity each day that you are alive to make your current circumstances better than your past. No matter what your situation look for the good, the positive, the light in the darkness, and challenge yourself to feel gratefulness.

Looking Outside Ourselves

By looking outside ourselves we can begin to be aware of the greater world around us and realize that as bad as our circumstance may seem there is always someone who is experiencing something worse. If we can look for ways to help improve the life of somebody who is struggling worse, or by offering a prayer or intention for somebody in need, we take our thoughts off our own suffering and offer it up to others. We can have a positive effect in the lives of others if we only take the time to notice their suffering, empathize, and offer up in the smallest way an intention to offer assistance. We heal our own souls when we look to help others.

Do Small Acts of Kindness

As an extension to looking outside ourselves we can take small actions everyday to practice acts of kindness with others. By putting aside our own self-centeredness, offering forgiveness, and practicing patience we create positive energy in ourselves and in the world around us. By continually practicing these acts of kindness we can build in ourselves a sense of tolerance and respect for our fellow human beings creating compassion and empathy at the same time. As we grow in these emotions we can relieve the stress of our interactions with others and truly focus our energies outwardly in a positive and healing way.

We exist not as isolated beings in the world, but as connected and interdependent individuals each helping the others whether we realize it or not. In order to feed our spirit we have to understand the ways in which we are interconnected, the ways in which we are blessed, and the ways in which we share blessing with others. This realization and acknowledgment can open our souls to a new world of hope and peace as we put aside our own little troubles to work outside ourselves to further build this interconnectedness and build a richer and more peaceful world. In this way we let go of our own worries and stress and calm the anxiety within and empower ourselves to act from the inside and from without.

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