Bowing to Fear
by Craig Booker
The act of bowing has several connotations across cultures. For many, bowing is a way to show respect or honor to someone or something. This might be to an important leader or to symbolically show respect to something other than a living person. When it comes to anxiety or fear this is somthing many people do because they have no other solutions to coping with anxiety. One of the best explanations of anxiety I have heard, I read in Louie Giglio's YouVersion plan, "Putting an 'X' Through Anxiety. In Day 5, Louie breaks down anxiety in the most practical sense.
"During my journey, it was important to realize my 'anxiety' wasn’t a thing in and of itself. Rather, my anxiety was a symptom of something else. I found myself saying things like, 'I’m not going to be able to make it to work today, my anxiety is acting up again.' Or, 'I feel like my anxiety is rising up, I better go lie down.'"
Pay extra-close attention here to the statements Louie is making.
“I’m not going to be able to make it to work today, my anxiety is acting up again.”
“I feel like my anxiety is rising up, I better go lie down.”
Bowing To Our Anxiety
PLEASE NOTE I am not a doctor or counselor. I am not saying that certain strategies can not be helpful. In this context, I am looking for long-term solutions, which these strategies proved useless to me personally
On a personal, first-hand account, I completely identify with Louie’s statements. I have said very similar things time and time again. Essentially, when someone says these type of statements, what they are really saying is, I feel a great deal of anxiety and I do not know if I can handle the situation or the anxiety. The only response the individual knows in this situation is to bow to his or her anxiety.
A Word of Caution
When anxiety is handled like this, anxiety is not really processed in a healthy way. Not only that, but we limit our ability to move forward. We become stuck in an unhealthy cycle of anxiety or fear. Going to lay down MIGHT help, but more likely than not, it does nothing to benefit us long-term. In my own experience, I have also seen this occur utilizing anxiety medication as an alternative to going to lay down. The anxiety medications seem to calm the surface-level symptoms, but do nothing for me long term.
4 Things To Do When Anxiety Strikes
- Acknowledge the fear and ask for help(Pray or phone a friend).
- Identify the Source
- Recognize YOUR options!
- Choose a healthy option which helps you move forward
An Infinite Loop of Fear and Anxiety
On my own, I learned that if I am not willing to do something else alongside the treatment(medication), the treatment did nothing positive to deal with my anxiety. Treatments alone simply mask anxiety. Certainly, without knowing any better way to cope, this is perhaps our best response. I however, quickly became sick of remaining in a never-ending state of fear and anxiety.
Please understand that I am in NO WAY condemning people for dealing with anxiety or fear in this way. I still fall back into this occasionally. I hope that by sharing my experience with bowing to fear, I can provide others with hope that there is a better way. Why? Because in reality, there is actually a better way.
After personally bowing to my own anxiety for 10 years, I knew there had to be a better way. The problem was no one could tell me what that better way looked like.
Why, Just Why?
Many, many times I found myself increasingly frustrated with the healthcare system. Not for political reasons, but because no one seemed to have any real solutions for anxiety. Medical doctors seemed too focused on prescription medication, without any mention of other long-term strategies. My first psychologist spent a long time analyzing my past looking for answers. Again, no one mentioned any form of long-term strategies.
I found one counselor who actually seemed interested in pursuing solutions which could change things for the better. You could tell he might not have all the answers, but at least he wanted to find real results. It is here I landed and started making real progress with real solutions. The solutions did not come quickly, but gradually. I had to be willing to invest the time and work necessary, but things started to work.