At its most basic level, anxiety is fear. It is fear of the unknown. More specifically, fear that the unknown will be something terrible. Now if anxiety is fear of the awful unknown, then what might constitute the opposite of that? In my opinion, it is faith. Faith allows us to feel safe in spite of the unknown. Faith gives us breathing room to consider the possibility that the unknown will be okay. Faith gives us courage and allows us to move forward.
What springs to mind when you think about faith? Usually, we think first of religion and faith in God. For those who believe in God, this can be a wonderful faith to have. The belief that there is a sentient power watching over the universe and guiding and protecting us, is of great comfort to believers. But what if faith in God is not 'your' faith? Where can you gain comfort then? We can have faith in just about anything but here are examples of some types of faith that might help to lessen your anxiety:
Faith in yourself: when we are anxious, very often it can be a fear that we will not be able to accomplish something. We will not make a deadline, we will miss an appointment, we will fail at a task. I would encourage you to examine the evidence. You have not gotten this far in life without competence. Chances are you have faced something similar before and survived. There may be setbacks and the road may not be straight (it usually isn't) but have faith that you will make it through whatever challenge you face. Just like you've done before. Have a little more faith in you.
Faith in others: Sometimes it's difficult to put our faith in others. Maybe we've been badly let down in the past. Maybe we learnt from a young age to rely on ourselves alone. But the truth is that most people are reliable most of the time (we are only human after all, there is no 100%). The best way to test this theory is to give it a chance. Accept an offer of help or ask a friend or family member for help. This can be difficult if it is not your natural inclination. However, consider how this might ease your anxiety in life. Think of how much better life could be if you knew that others have your back and can give you a helping hand from time to time. Try having a little more faith in others.
Faith in love: It's difficult to have faith in love when the news is filled with stories of hate and murder. The news can distort your view of the world. News focuses on what is sensational and what is out of the ordinary. Love on the contrary, is pervasive and everyday, to the degree that it is too banal to be newsworthy. Love is in getting your child's breakfast ready in the morning. Love is in laughing with a co-worker over coffee. Love is sitting with your dog in the evening while you watch TV. Love is reminding your partner to make that dental appointment. The fact that love is not more news worthy should be taken as a sign that it is still the default mode of the world. It pervades and dominates all of our actions, it gets us out of bed in the morning, it keeps us going throughout the day, and it makes all the bad news that little bit more bearable. Take more notice of all the love in the world and believe in the power it has to strengthen you and help you cope with life's challenges. Have a little more faith in love.
Faith in the universe: There are those who believe that if we have faith in the universe, the universe will in turn have faith in us and perhaps even help us get the things we need. In "The Artist's Way", Julia Cameron describes this phenomenon as synchronicity. Cameron describes how Carl Jung (a Swiss psychiatrist) believed in "the possibility of an intelligent and responsive universe, acting and reacting in our interests". Other authors have explored this concept also (Rhonda Byrne in "The Secret", Martha Beck when discussing 'magic lists'). There do certainly seem to be endless examples of people deciding on what they want and having life sort of 'fall into place' to accommodate them. When you are tuned in to what you want, you begin to notice the opportunities that are present all around you. The important elements are to consider what you want from life and take positive steps in the direction of your goals. Then have faith that the universe is on your side and will help you to succeed.
If none of the concepts of faith described above resonate with you, then maybe it is worth exploring your own understanding of faith, or to consider what you do have faith in. Or if any of the above do seem relevant, you could consider how to increase your faith in all or any of these things.
If faith is indeed the antidote to anxiety it is certainly worth some consideration.
Beck, Martha (online) Have You Created Your Magic List Yet?
Byrne, Rhona (2006) The Secret. Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing.
Cameron, Julia (2002) The Artist's Way. New York: Penguin.