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Redefining Anxiety by John Delony

Last April my wife and I’s wedding was completely planned and we had invited our closest friends and family to attend. But then the entire country was flipped upside down when the coronavirus began to spread. A tough call had to be made. Either to postpone our wedding or make some major changes. We decided not to postpone and with special approval from the bishop our friend and reverend married us with only our photographer as a witness. That’s it. No one else was at our wedding.

Not exactly how we pictured the day would go.

For as long as I can remember, I have immediately looked for the positive when something doesn’t go my way. I never take one minute to grieve. And our wedding was not the exception. I found every reason to be positive about the circumstances including being happy how focused I could be on the day and not be distracted by the whirlwind of entertaining our guests and being the center of attention. I didn’t have to worry about entertaining out of town guests after the wedding. Nor did I have to find sleeping accommodations for my family. And there was nothing to setup or takedown! Simple… I didn’t weep over the fact that for months we had been making decorations, bleaching, scrubbing, and hand painting party favors for the guests, and I didn’t cry over the fact that we missed out on a first dance in front of all the most important people in our lives.

In Redefining Anxiety, Dr. John Delony writes “This approach is problematic for two reasons: it limits your ability to grieve, and though it might seem noble, minimizing or judging grief doesn’t actually accomplish anything. You’re not helping other people feel better by denying your own loss and pain. Hiding you hurt doesn’t make it go away. Own your grief and don’t apologize for it. And let other people have theirs. 

Acknowledging what you’ve lost shines a light on your pain. Light takes away the power and mystery of darkness. We will never heal from our trauma until we’ve processed it. We will never move on until we’ve allowed ourselves to feel the weight of the loss and hurt so we can make sense of it all. Give yourself permission to grieve. Cry. Yell. Be angry.”

I found so much to be positive about and just didn’t allow myself to mourn at all. And this is just a disservice to myself and also to my wife. I take pride in being a positive person that looks at the bright side of events and am known as one. Whenever someone needs a positive spin on circumstances, they can call me! But I need to occasionally allow for a new habit.

Over the weekend my wife and I were driving and I was sharing this concept of grieving. We decided to give it a try (everybody has plenty they can grieve from this year… now don’t they!) and it felt completely foreign and unnatural for both of us. We couldn’t even do it! Our default mode of positivity immediately took over and we started to spin the events in a different light. Ugh! It is evident we have never given any space in our life for sorrow. We can’t even grieve when we are trying to.

What about you… Have you taken time to grieve? Its okay… You can do it right now. If you are like me there is plenty of things you can give space to reflect on. Go ahead!

How did that feel?

My favorite section of the book was when Delony talked about breath, eating, exercise, and sleep… I think this is a subject that needs to be talked about a lot more. 

“There’s no easy way to say this: You have to take care of yourself if you want to silence the anxiety alarms. This is not a debate: we eat like trash, we don’t move enough, and we don’t get enough sleep. We are all capable of change, and we can all do better.”

Having a strong foundation of healthy habits that you can control in your life makes it easier to bear the uncontrollable. And there will always be something uncontrollable and surprising in our life. Delony is uniquely positioned as a relationships and mental health expert with a passion for health and wellness to cover this topic very well. My hope is that he will continue to blend the two together because everyone needs to hear more about this!

The most compelling parts of the book were his personal stories. The best example was when he talked about the anxiety he felt when his son left his wife’s keys in the car. I can picture myself in that exact scenario and have been there myself many times. Its very powerful. And men… We can all learn something from this:

“My anger was a signal that things hadn’t gone according to my plans, causing me to lose control of my precious schedule, which made me feel out of control. After thirty seconds of gripping the steering wheel tight enough to leave fingerprints in the leather, I smiled, let go, and remembered: I get to decide how to respond. Being angry or frustrated or driving like a maniac would not solve any of my problems, and it could only make them worse. Plus, my son is ten. He made a goof, like ten-year-olds do. After a few moments, I made up my mind not to be angry. Instead, I decided to take the rare unplanned hour in my day to listen to some music and prepare for my show in the car. I also decided to talk to my son only after I’d had some time to think about what I was going to say and how I could best teach him about responsibility. Showing up in a rage would only shut him down and make sure he wouldn’t hear anything I said.”

In summary, I think this quick read from Dr. John Delony is worth picking up. If you are like me and don’t feel like you are an overly anxious person, I think you may be surprised after reading it that you are a bit more anxiety prone than you realized. I sure am. If you can admit right now that you tend to be anxious often, then you need to pick up the book right now.

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