There is something that always calms me down, no matter how nervous or anxious I become. When I say to myself, “Hashem is always with me,” it takes all the wind out of my anxious sails.
I am 64 years old, and I have learned that there is no security in life. People you love die, people lose their jobs, their money. A good marriage goes belly up, businesses go bankrupt. Children stop talking to parents. (Oh, and once you have kids? You never stop worrying. Your heart is forever outside your body.) Stuff happens. You can only wear your seat belt; you can’t protect against all accidents. The world is just too big and too scary a place to feel safe and secure in.
I always say that if I didn’t believe that Hashem ran the world I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. This is a very personal thing for me to share, but I have a very deep, experiential belief that there is a benevolent force running the universe. Even though I see wars and tragedies, even though I have experienced very difficult things in my own life. It’s very real for me that someday I will see why it all had to be that way, and this is a great comfort to me. I have found that our only true security is knowing Hashem is with us. Bad stuff will happen. Believing in Hashem doesn’t mean everything will work out the way you want. It just means that however it works out, you are not alone.
I think the reason that this mantra calms me right down is that it relieves me of the feeling that the weight of the world is my personal responsibility. Of course I have to do the right thing; but ultimately, it’s not up to me. By putting the responsibility on Hashem and not myself, it frees me up. If I felt that I was responsible for everything that happens in the greater world and in my own world, I would be a blithering mess. When I do start to feel this way, I become filled with anxiety and desperation. So now that I know this about myself, I live by doing everything I can, and I leave the rest to Hashem. This phrase is a helpful reminder.
Whenever I am feeling anxiety or nervousness, I say, “Hashem is always with me.” And wow! I calm right down. A great example of this is when I was in an MRI machine. Have you ever been in one of those closed ones? You’re in a tiny tunnel and it’s very claustrophobic. (I hate it!) Anyway, I was in one of those. There were about six inches between my eyeballs and the machine; to me it felt like being in a coffin. And of course you’re not allowed to move. I started getting freaked out. So I said, “Hashem is always with me,” and voila! I calmed right down. Amazing, don’t you think?
For me, this phrase shuts down all my anxious thinking in a moment. And when my mind is quiet, I naturally find myself in a calm, connected-to-all-that-is state. It just makes me feel safe in a moment.
For those of you who don’t like the word God, you can substitute the Creative Force of the Universe, the Intelligence Behind Life…whatever you do connect with. Even if you are not a believer in God, I think there are very few of us who don’t see or experience that there is something going on that we cannot see, something that makes the flowers bloom and grows your hair. Your cuts heal by themselves; you don’t have to do anything about them. That’s the force that I’m talking about. It has nothing to do with being religious or not, or belonging to any specific religion—it’s way beyond that. There is a Creative Force in the universe, and you can tap into that.
I do not know if you are a true believer like me, but maybe there is something else that can anchor you when you are starting to spin out into freak-out land. A thought, a song, a memory, knitting (hard to do in an MRI)—anything that shuts all the anxious thinking down. Anything that calms your mind down, anything that takes the edge off that frantic, anxious, worrisome thinking, will bring you closer to a calmer state.
Think about how little kids are just busy doing their thing—playing, running, jumping—they’re just doing what they’re doing. They’re not thinking, “Am I doing it right? Am I doing it wrong?” They get upset, they get over it. They’re living in the moment. They’re in the flow of the universe. It’s not until we get older that we start to run the tapes of, “I can’t [fill in the blank]. Nobody likes me. I’m not doing it right.” Those kids have a natural connection to the Creative Force of the universe. They haven’t developed the thinking that keeps us from experiencing moment by moment. You don’t have to think of it as a Godly thing if that feels disingenuous to you. You can just see it as being in the flow, in the “zone.” It doesn’t matter what you call it. It only matters that you aren’t lost and being tortured by your mind.
Knowing that this is always available to me makes me feel totally safe, regardless of what happens. I will be fine. I am not alone—and that makes all the difference.
By Jewel Safren, LCSW
Jewel Safren MSW, LSW, LCSW has over 35 years of experience in counseling, lifecoaching and public speaking coaching. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.