Angst…what is it good for?

angstFor days I have been waking up with a pit in my stomach. In trying to identify exactly what I was feeling I decided that it would best be described as angst.

I’m going to let you into my head for a moment. (that was a warning!)

As I was writing that first sentence I was going to say it would best be described as anxiety but I stopped myself. I said to myself (I talk to myself a lot), “No, it’s not anxiety, it’s angst.”

And then I thought, “What’s the difference between anxiety and angst?”

So, I looked it up. All this before I’ve even finished my first cup of tea!

Here is how the Urban Dictionary described angst:

Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst.

A light bulb went off! Three things jumped out at me that helped me put things in perspective.

  1. Angst is an emotion. I pay attention to my emotions because they are an indication that something is going on in my heart that I need to address, but I refuse to be ruled by them.
  1. Life is full of anguish and managing the tension between its existence and the power to overcome it, is an ongoing battle. I have to remind myself that we live in a broken world. It is unrealistic to expect that life should just sail along smoothly all the time. When I normalize setbacks and realize they are just part of life, it makes them easier to manage. I can rest knowing that the rough patches come and they go.
  1. Hope is THE most important element – without it I’m sunk. Hope is what will help me to keep the normal angst of life from turning into anxiety! Hope is critical.

My particular angst is originating from trying to finish writing my first book. The emotion surrounding it is feeling like a failure by not meeting all my self-imposed deadlines. At times the demands of family and ministry on my schedule and mental energy make it seemingly impossible. But… I have hope. Hope will prevent it from turning into anxiety.

Is there something you are feeling angst over? Something not going along quite as you planned despite of every effort on your part?

Don’t be carried away by the emotion of it. Emotions alert us to triggers that may be being pushed so use them to identify the source of your angst. Try to normalize the obstacles in life. They are part of life.

Most of all, never lose HOPE. Losing hope is the only way to assure that whatever it is you are reaching for or believing for will not happen.

Hanging onto hope is how you will overcome that seemingly impossible situation.

Wikepedia says:

Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.

And you know if Wikipedia says it it must be true 😉

More importantly God says:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5: 2-5)

I echo Paul’s sentiment in a wish for you today….

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope!! (Romans 15:13)

inhale

12 thoughts on “Angst…what is it good for?

  1. I loved this post – you are very REAL with what you are feeling, and it is relatable to others at so many different levels for what season they are in. Thanks for sharing – Love you girl. Praying specifically for this ANGST to be removed, and for you to have a clear mind, heart, spirit and to be filled with encouragement. Amy

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  2. I feel you. I too experienced unnamed angst last week that I would have called depression until now. But depression is rather hopeless and I am hope-filled! Yet, when I think of Angst I always pair it with “teenage” to describe that feeling of longing for the future.The teenager pining away for her Prince Charming or the freedom that will come as an adult. You have given me a different perspective that is more mature when angst is attached to a hope/goal, like your completing a book. In essence, angst comes along with the pursuit of a dream, (whether a teen or adult) and of a day that has not been yet called into existence, and I think is the level of angst is comparative to the desire of the goal. We want it SO bad that we ACHE for the day it is realized. But then I thought, wouldn’t we encourage that teenager to enjoy this fleeting time of her life, to dream but not be filled with angst for what is in the future? We too should be encouraged to live in the moment of {insert life season here}, because this too shall pass and after all, God’s timing is always perfect. Thanks for a fresh perspective and a proper name for the ache of a day that has not come, just yet.

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    1. Sheila,
      I love your perspective on this. You articulated further the heart of this post. I know from experience that angst is very different from depression although the symptoms can feel the same which is why it’s important to examine closely the emotions related to it. The difference is hope for sure and depression feels so hopeless.

      This is something that tripped me up more than once with diagnosing depression. Every time I was asked by a professional if I felt hopeless I would answer no because I knew in my head that I was not hopeless, however if I was truthful – I FELT hopeless. It actually prevented me from getting help that I desperately needed. So, it is a very important distinction.

      What I’ve been experiencing this past week is different because I can get my arms around HOPE and it helps! I’ll take angst any day over depression.

      Love the way you write girl…hold onto those dreams and the hope that has been planted in your heart. They are coming…in His timing.

      Lots of love to you…thanks for the feedback 🙂

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  3. Sarah

    Thank you for your transparency, Tracey! Sometimes, it is so easy to become hopeless. but our hope is the anchor for our souls.

    Someone shared this verse with me recently:

    Hebrews 6:13-20-

    “People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever.”

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