I tend to get most anxious when I see myself as the last bastion before impending disaster. This is a handy metaphor because it fits into hundreds of actual situations.
For instance, is my child doing well in school? If not, then it must be up to me to halt that demise and fix the problem (teacher, school, learning disability, whatever!). Is there a pain in my body? If so, then it must be up to my brain alone to come up with the answer (certain death) and derail the disastrous consequence. Sometimes as I drive through my town I offer helpful advice to fellow drivers, notice how the city could be more concise with the wording of this sign or that notice. I often see how a kooky intersection could be designed more efficiently, and I correct the incorrect grammar that has been posted on billboards.

I’m a busy bee.

And it is just this busyness that can signal the onset of a full blown panic attack – because if all these wrongs are dependent on me for getting “righted” then we’re ALL in serious trouble! It can make my heart race just to contemplate this scenario.

Through a spiritual program that I follow I’ve come to believe in a power greater than myself. It’s not so relevant that I articulate and explain the personal ins and outs of this belief system, but what IS relevant is the crucial idea that there IS a higher power, and I’m not it! This seems like a simple phrase, and perhaps to those who don’t suffer from anxiety and panic disorders this is taken for granted.

But for me, it has to be consciously and constantly remembered. I am NOT the world’s safety net. I am not my children’s safety net. I am not even my OWN safety net. I’m just a decent human being, living life to the best of my ability, and I probably have a few talents and ideas to contribute to the world, so maybe I could focus on that, eh? I can let go of monitoring the edge of “the great abyss” to make sure no one falls over, and I can do what it is that I can do.

Like, I can make sure my kids get healthy food, and a good night’s sleep. I encourage them to get organized, and ask for help, but I can leave the rest up to them. They will work it out. If I have a pain in my body I can go to the doctor, or I can chalk it up to one of the side effects of HAVING a body, and go on with my day. Chances are I’m not going to die from three or four life-threatening illnesses today. As for my driving, well, I could probably just pay more attention to my own choices, my own speed, and whether or not I’m using my turn signal. If I’ve got so much time on my hands in the car maybe I can listen to a book on tape.

What this practice of depending on a higher power is teaching me is that I do have a place in this world, I’m just not in charge of it. And not being in charge means I do not have to take on the responsibility for the proper management of every detail. I can do what I can do for myself and those in my tiny circle. And I can trust that the same power that organized planet’s orbits and the creation of a galaxy, can probably put the right person on the right task. Just for today I can go with the flow.