An Anxious Heart: Battling “What If” & “If Only” Mentalities

Battling “what if” and “if only” mentalities

Up to this point, I’ve talked a lot about Kevin’s deployment, how it’s affected me, and some things I’ve done to deal with him being gone. One thing I haven’t really talked to you guys about is the amount of anxiety that comes when he’s gone. The first time I really noticed it was last year when he deployed for a short (compared to this time) 2 months to Germany. One night I woke up with my heart pounding. I hadn’t been dreaming or anything like that, so it really kind of scared me. For the next couple of weeks, it would happen on and off, and after talking to several people about it, came to the conclusion that I was having a panic attack in my sleep. Because I would always go to sleep worried and stressing about what tomorrow was going to be like without Kevin. Or what horrible thing was going to happen to him while he was over there.

This time, my anxiety hadn’t really shown up until these last couple of weeks. I was told the last month is the hardest because you’re past the point of being ok and you’re just so close and so ready for him to come home. This has been way too true. As this deployment is dwindling down, the days are getting longer, and my mind can’t really focus on much else. I find myself getting easily upset and irritated for no real reason other than the fact that he isn’t here. Weird, right? You’d think I’d be excited. Instead, I just keep saying to myself “if only he were here, everything would go back to normal.” “if only he were here, I could focus on my blog.” “if only he were here, I’d be the happiest person in the world.”

A couple of months back in anticipation of my anxiety returning, I decided to order a few books that would hopefully help me learn how to get a handle on it. One of the books was Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. (If you haven’t read it and have any amount of stress or anxiety in your life, I highly recommend it.) Until a couple of nights ago, I hadn’t picked it up in a while. But I had an especially difficult few days and decided to read on. The chapter I left off on was titled “Great Gratitude: Christ-based contentment turns us into strong people. ” Y’all God is so good. It was like this chapter and the two after it were written for me and for this season in my life.

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

The If Only Mentality

This chapter from Max Lucado’s book talks all about focusing on the If only’s in life. Focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you do have. Lucado refers to this as “the If Only River.” It’s what separates us from “the good life.” Like I said, this is exactly where I was at two days ago. “If only he were here.” I had finally pinpointed one of the major sources of my anxiety.  Do you find yourself in the same situation sometimes? “If only I had this.” “If only I looked like that.” “If only I could find the perfect guy.” So how do we cross these “rivers” in our lives? “The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does.” Woah. So what’s the key to changing our attitude? Gratitude. Wake up everyday and think about what you have and be grateful. This is exactly how I chose to wake up today. I immediately decided to be thankful for the fact that I had a wonderful, loving husband. For my family and friends. Even for the small things, like that it was a sunny day and my dogs weren’t sick this week. And I kid you not, today my world looked completely different. The sun was shining a little bit brighter, and I could finally see the end of what has been the longest and hardest four months of my life.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:11-13

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

The What If Mentality

The next chapter that was also written for me was titled “Think About What You Think About: Your problem is not your problem but the way you see it.” As I mentioned, this was the root of my panic attacks last year, and it has still affected me during this deployment. Dwelling on things that might happen instead of having faith that they won’t. “What if something bad happens?” “What if the WiFi goes out and we can’t talk?” “What if the dogs get sick again?” There are so many things in life that we don’t have control over. We can’t choose our family. We can’t determine the weather. We surely can’t control the WiFi. But we can control what we think about.

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” Proverbs 4:23

Instead of assuming something bad is going to happen, thinking about what we don’t have, or dwelling on the past, we can count our blessings, read the Bible, and spend time with people that uplift us. Lucado makes the greatest statement in this chapter and I plan to hang on to these words until Kevin comes home and long after: “Healing from anxiety requires healthy thinking. Your challenge is not your challenge. Your challenge is the way you think about your challenge. Your problem is not your problem; it is the way you look at it.”

“fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Phil. 4:8

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

Free People tee and striped tie front shorts

Outfit Details: Top | Shorts (similar) | Sandals (similar) | Sunglasses (the name of these sunglasses is If Only lol, promise that was not planned)

I don’t for a second want to pretend like I’ve got this all figured out, but I know I’m on the right track. One day at a time, right? I hope that someone was encouraged today. I’d love any feedback below, and if you struggle with an anxious heart, I’d love to hear from you. There’s nothing better than knowing you aren’t alone! Thanks for spending time with me, and I hope you remember to think about all things good and pure and lovely today!

xo

Hayley

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