Experiencing anxiety is a common problem that leads many people to seek counseling and therapy. Whether about work, family life, unexpected setbacks, one’s future, or one’s children and their problematic behaviors, anxiety-inducing events abound. Anxiety is the result of threats existing in our lives, whether real or perceived. For those experiencing problematic anxiety, it may be hard to distance from these threats. In the fortunate case that one is able to do so successfully, it is often not long before the threat and associated emotion returns. As a result, we may struggle to be the person God sees within us. We may experience less joy or be more likely to negatively impact the lives of those around us. Outbursts of anger, disputes, and dissension are also common with anxiety. We know that this anxiety is burdensome, but what is there to do about it?
During a recent conversation with an acquaintance of mine, I found myself striving at all costs to evangelize via information. This person recently shared that they were interested in exploring multiple denominations of Christianity, curious to seek out the Truth after only ever knowing one particular theology. After a few discussions, I learned that this individual was holding a certain belief about God that I personally thought fell short. In turn, getting excited about the potential of their conversion and feeling a responsibility to instruct, I combated my friend’s theological idea with numerous scriptural references. This approach, unfortunately, did not produce the results I had hoped for. Instead, I fell right into a trap known as the “righting reflex”—a trap that I, as a counselor, have been trained to avoid.
Parents (and all people) today are rightly concerned about the safety and well-being of our children, especially when it comes to sexual abuse. While we can and should put institutional safeguards in place to reduce the risks of abuse, we parents can also teach our children to speak up when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. For that to happen, we need to invest our time.