I’m known to get a little ahead of myself. I often go to the absolute worst-case scenario for any given problem I’m facing.
If I am struggling at work, I’m about to get laid off.
If I am experiencing challenges in my marriage, it means it won’t work.
If a friend is frustrated with me, they probably hate my guts.
I can’t shake this very awful feeling what I’m dealing with could literally mean something dramatic, terrible, and life-ending.
It reminds me a lot about what I felt when I was a young person, unable to control the story and narrative around me, watching things swing in and out of my control. Growing up, my life was filled with melodrama. My family, who is kind, and very supportive, was deeply afraid of what one wrong or right turn could do to my life.
They were outrageously pessimistic about life in America they knew nothing about. They craved normalcy, consistency, something they could count on. Their well-intentioned anxiety is deep-seated in me.
I’m constantly in a state of bracing myself for problems I am not facing. I’m blocking and tackling in my mind— building an action plan so I can be prepared for those terrible, inevitable things. I wrestle the worst-case scenario to the ground, give it the story I want to tell it, and become the imaginary victor in a world that does not exist.
Simply put, I’m 15 steps ahead when my problem is at 0.5.
Many of us don’t pay attention to our inner child—the person who is reacting to today’s situation with the hurts and pains of our past. This child doesn’t know today that you, the adult, who is resilient and capable, is able to handle the situation in front of you.
So, our inner child reacts. She panic. She destroys everything that comes our way. She hurts herself and the people around her for not knowing how to address the real problem—comforting and affirming the fears your inner child is facing.
Whenever we face challenges in our present, we need to wrestle the genesis of our anxiety. Nine out of ten, the situation at hand isn’t driving your reaction. There’s always something more, something deeper—it touches at the tenderness of our insecurities and trauma of our past experiences.
Most of my anxiety stems from an unshakeable feeling I’m not good enough.
That I can’t face or conquer the challenges of today.
That I’ll never be able to truly take care of myself or be self-reliant.
That I’m not the person I think I am.
I have crazy imposter syndrome and most of the time, I don’t believe I should be in the rooms I am in.
For example, I’ve been experiencing anxiety at work. At the core of that anxiety is this dark, scary feeling I am not good enough to be in the role I’m in. That I’m not capable or smart enough, that I somehow tricked the leadership team into hiring me.
Your current circumstances don’t dictate your identity. Even if you’re feeling shaken, it doesn’t mean you haven’t already lived through, survived, and overcome so much.
Our circumstances are just circumstances—are often not in our control. Even if they are, it doesn’t mean that they define or change your story.
Comforting our inner child means making space for the doubt, insecurity, and loneliness of our past. There’s a reason Young Rachel doesn’t know these things—because Adult Rachel hasn’t given her the chance to be acknowledged, validate her fears, and comfort her.
Young Rachel didn’t know that one day, she would be a leader in multiple organizations—both big and small. She didn’t know she’d sit in rooms and at tables, she never dreamt of. She didn’t know that when push came to shove, so many people would advocate, support, and remind her of her strength, ability, and character.
This year, I am trying my best to allow my younger self to know that I got this. By comforting and sitting in those feeling, I’m letting her know 2021 Rachel has the tools, resources, and support to get through whatever situation we face.
And more importantly, God, who is truly the author of our story, will give us the unexpected strength, grace, and courage to block, tackle, and manage our challenges, when they happen.
When we can bring this fear, anxiety, and terror to Him, He makes us perfect in our weakness.