In my last post I briefly talked about the idea of belief. Belief and faith go hand in hand, and I really harped on the positive side of belief, the side that makes you trust the process of life. The side that gives you hope. But, there is a side to belief that contributes to our anxieties that most people don’t even realize.
Per usual, I write when I’m emotionally compelled, which includes all emotions from thrill to defeat, because the emotional spectrum happens to us all. Today, I write from two opposing sides of emotion, the ugly anxiousness of worry, and the calm triumph of control. We often struggle with thoughts that trigger anxiety and stress… it’s natural… but how can we control it?
I’ve said it before, but I’ve been somehow blessed with the mentality to get myself through stressors, and I very rarely feel anxious or in distress. When I talk to people close to me that go through struggles and pain, I give them the same advice that this post contains. I figured that it was time to open up and share with everyone, especially following Easter weekend. Like I said, I write when I’m compelled, and often times as a reminder to myself.
I titled this post ‘Seeing is Knowing’ because that is what I call this concept. A lot of ideas that I share are adaptations of things that have been taught to me, but this concept is completely original to my brain. As I try to introspect about what makes me tick, I found this to be true of myself. Bear with me as I try to organize my thoughts.
Often times you hear the saying “seeing is believing” or “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but when you see something, it is no longer belief. It is knowledge. Belief is imaginative, and can hurt us and our brains when that belief is negative. Yes, belief can be negative in the form of assumptions, presumptions, guesses, and worries.
Here’s what I mean… Have you ever worried about a future event? Let’s say, as an example, that you’re worried about a conversation you’re anticipating having with someone. If it’s important enough, you spend time thinking about what you’re going to say, you think about all of the possible contextual scenarios, you think about what they might say back, and you think about how you’ll feel when that conversation is complete.
You make up an entire event in your mind that has not even occurred yet in reality. Through the process of preparing, you often times think of something going wrong, and it impacts your mood going into the conversation. Those assumptions create anxiety about what might happen. That is bad belief. Until you have the conversation, you don’t truly know what to say, when to say it, how they’ll react, or how you’ll feel when it all concludes. In a scenario like that, act and then react. Seeing is knowing.
Another example is something that we young people are commonly victim to. Often times people guess how someone feels about them or perceives them, and they base their relationship with each other off of what they believe might be true.
If you use your perceptions of events to believe that someone is infatuated with you, you become flattered. If you use your perceptions of events to believe that someone doesn’t like you, you become cold. Either of these assumptions can be dead wrong. Relationships can’t function that way. If you want to have a firm, real relationship with someone, ask them what they think about you. Appreciate the good in one another, or hold each other accountable to fix the bad. Either way, to eliminate the anxiety of pure guesswork, keep communication open. That communication is the reality that you can then come to know, not just believe.
The list of examples is infinite. Think of all of the time we spend debating to ourselves about events that haven’t happened yet. Think of all of the time we spend worrying about those events in the future going wrong. Why is it human nature to see more potential negative outcomes than potential positive outcomes? I have no answer to that, but I can say with certainty that the only thing we know is what we see. What we see is reality. What we see is no longer belief. What we see is knowledge.
To overcome our anxieties, we must live by what we see in the moment. We cannot live by what we ‘think might happen if…’ or ‘what I could’ve done to…’. There’s no brain space left to handle what’s really in front of us when we consume ourselves with hypotheticals. I tell people to slow down, and handle life as it is literally in front of them. To handle things that might worry you head on. How many times do you catch yourself saying, “Wow, that really wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be?” Pretty wild how that works. Handle things as they are and your anxieties will diminish the more you experience what used to scare you.
Here’s the most grand example of them all… right on the heels of Easter weekend. Throughout the gospels of the Bible, Jesus tells us that He is going to a place that no one can follow Him to. He declares all of these promises, so major and fulfilling that the religious leadership of the time wants Him killed. Obviously, he was crucified on Good Friday, and resurrected three days later. But, can you imagine the anxiety of the disciples in those three days? Or the anxiety of His mother Mary? This man was promising so much, leading those 12 men through life, and He is now suddenly gone with only vague messages of hope left behind.
Think of the confusion, the worry, the lack of purpose these men likely felt… until they saw. Until they saw the stone moved from the grave, until they saw His clothes neatly folded, until they put their fingers through the holes in Jesus’ hands. These stories are belief to us, yes, but genuine knowledge to those who witnessed it. The disciples no longer believed once they had seen Jesus return… they knew. And that knowledge became the word, the Good News, and the Holy Spirit that has spread in faith through generations and generations.
Until we experience, we do not truly know, which means that we cannot truly feel. Easter gives us many stories all about forgiveness and light relieving darkness. All of which are true, but here’s a new perspective on the great resurrection of Easter. We can take it to be the grand example on how to handle our anxiety… because we really don’t know anything until we see.
Belief is a powerful tool. Both for good and evil. It is rare that we hear our negative thoughts be referred to as beliefs, but that is what they are. Seeing what we want to see is believing. Seeing what is right in front of us is knowing. Use the power of belief to fuel hope, not anxiousness.
Reach out to the ones you appreciate to remind them. Keep it real with everyone in your life. You have more control of your life than you realize, I promise. Believe in the goodness of life, and believe in the plan of God. Attack the moments as they happen, not as you assume they may occur. Seeing is knowing.
You are so loved.