Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Opposite of Anxiety

I once heard a hypnotherapy teacher say that the opposite of anxiety was options. It made sense at first--options are always good. It's very empowering to know and understand your options, especially as you go into your pregnancy and birth journey. However, recently I have been thinking a lot about this, and I think it is important to differentiate between having options, and keeping your options open. It is my belief, the once you've considered your options and made a choice, the opposite of anxiety is actually commitment. And it is commitment that allows us even more choices.

Here are some examples that may better illustrate my point:

  • Keeping your options open when it comes to romantic relationships prevents you from forming deep attachment, trust, and love. From a stable committed marriage you have the ability to grow and develop. In fact, digging deeper in the same spot is how we reach the rich, fertile soil of a relationship. When one tries to to dig in several places at the same time because they don't want to chose the wrong spot--this is more likely to create anxiety. In addition, when you are in a committed relationship you have the option of a regular ride to the airport and hospital--and a few other nice perks you can think of yourself.

  • When you commit to one faith and set of values that don't change, you have the option of peace and of expansion. Metaphorically, the deeper you dig with your faith, the more the hole can be filled with treasure--or "hidden treasures of knowledge," as they are sometimes called. (I might say more about this in a later blog post.)

  • When you commit to a career, you can advance in it to the highest level and skill. Whereas, if you are always changing directions, it is difficult to become the best at any one thing.
  • When you commit to bring your child into the world in a gentle, spiritual, dignified manner, then you have the option of being open to spiritual guidance. You also have the simplicity of having a measuring stick for all related choices. Questions such as, "Is it peaceful? Is it gentle? Is it necessary? Will it allow me to feel the connection to the divine? If not, what else might need to happen first, so that it can?"

I have been trying to find a way to articulate how commitment also produces miracles and divine assistance, but two days ago I found these perfect words from Goethe:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." -- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
This reminds me of Lani's birth story. When Lani felt inspired to have a home birth, she had some inner struggle at first about making a decision that was not popular. They also weren't sure how they were going to pay for it. However, when she and her husband made the decision and committed to it, the heavens opened up. Here are her words:

"I still struggled, at times, to remember the assurance that we had chosen the correct path. “Are we sure we’re doing the right thing?” I frequently asked Reid at bedtime. While the idea of home birth had been frightening to him in the past, he was now blessed to become my rock of strength—never doubting for a moment. He reassured me time and again when my faith wavered or when I expressed my real concerns that I wouldn’t know how to love our boy baby. In another priesthood blessing I had sought for reassurance, the Lord promised us that He would watch over all of us to ensure that we would be “well and safe” as I gave birth. And the Lord, my God, "did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith," just as He had told me He would, through the scriptures, at the beginning of my pregnancy.

The blessings and miracles continued to pour down upon us. In February, I attended a doula training workshop (offered for free as a gift to the community by the doula trainer) where I met many women who would become my friends. One of them, Cassie, offered to be my doula and take photographs of my birth (again, for free). She came over several times before the birth to meet Reid and my girls and to take maternity photos for us. Unexpected additional income came to us, with the probability of further additional income opportunities in the future. Just as the Lord had promised, we found ourselves with enough and to spare financially, and our baby’s birth was completely paid-for by my 36th week of pregnancy."
Lani's story is also a great example of how a loving committed partner can give us added strength and courage to keep digging.


  1. I really needed this today. Thank you.

  2. Great points. I think that you are so right. Options are great, but when we don't CHOOSE, we can't move forward.

  3. I wanted to add, I feel this way about being a doula. At first it was so stressful being on call (there are parts that still are) but I have committed to support a certain mom through her birth. I trust that God will make it all work out. If I am meant to be there, I will be. Of course I do all I can to arrange things and be prepared. But the level of stress drops because I know that it will work out.

  4. I love this post, especially the quote by Goethe. When I was considering my first homebirth I was worried how we would pay for it. I remember making the stupid decision to give in to a vacuum cleaner salesman (of all things) to buy a $1,200 vacuum. A voice in my head said "don't do it." I did it anyway (I know, dumb) and then later thought, "Oh great, there goes my homebirth." However, in a moment of clarity, I realized that it was still my choice if I really wanted it. The Lord wasn't going to tell me what to do. It was up to me to make the decision and then find a way to pay for it. I knew if I was committed, He would help me. Right then (after repenting for ignoring the prompting) I committed to listen to the feelings I was getting from my baby to birth at home and trusted that it would all work out. The amazing thing was that I can't even remember how we came up with the money to pay the midwife, but we did and it wasn't even a hardship.



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