What do you think of when you hear the word “bully?”
For me, the word invokes images of giants; fairytale-variety-kind or even the infamous Goliath- take your pick. All are formidable and intimidating who prey upon others for their gratification.
What’s interesting is that we all have a bullying giant in our life, whether we want to recognize him or not. This giant goes by the name of "FEAR." He is a real-life nasty fellow that targets us with a mission of domination and destruction.
May I remind you, fear that often manifests itself in the form of stress will negatively impact your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It can cause poor performance in all areas of your life to include school, work, and relationships - left unchecked it can cause high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, chronic anxiety, and depression.
So, if fear is a giant how do we defeat him?
Let’s look at the Bible story of David versus Goliath to see just how a giant was successfully conquered.
Background- David, a young shepherd boy, armed only with a stone and a sling agrees to go toe-to-toe in battle against a mighty, 6-foot-9 Philistine giant named Goliath.
The heart of the combat is captured in 1 Samuel 17:48-50:
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.
So, David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”
Lessons learned- recognize the giant, take steps to confront him and use techniques that may appear small on the surface, but can do the most damage to your opponent's weak spot.
Here are a few practical “stones” you could use in your arsenal against fear & stress:
Be kind to yourself.
Find something to “let go of” and replace it with something helpful. Maybe spend less time on activities that are draining with no “mental” or “health” benefits- i.e., limit time on social media, refrain from political arguments and instead read a good book, take a relaxing bath, or get a massage. The list goes on…
Learn to say no.
Believe it or not, it is OK to say “no." You have permission to decline an engagement, project or invitation. Sometimes you need to prioritize yourself- your health and well-being above others. Realize that there are opportunities that your "no" can become someone else's "yes." Guilt is a powerful influencer that can leave you unnecessarily drained.
Have some fun.
Dance like no one is watching. Play a game you loved as a child. Try something new- painting, photography, rock climbing, sky diving or a cooking class. Do something that you love and laugh until your sides hurt.
Take a break.
Seriously, take a nap - it’s not just for babies or the elderly! Take a day off. Take a vacation. Give yourself a break. Whether small ones throughout the day or a serious vacation. We all need time to rest and rejuvenate.
Keep it simple.
It is so easy to make assumptions and over complicate things. Life doesn't have to be so hard. Boil it down and ask yourself, "Will this matter in five years, one year, a month?” There is beauty in simplicity and ease when you focus on the things that matter and have lasting importance.
Studies show that exercise can be a powerful stress-reliever. Aerobic activities are great because they release “feel good” endorphins, but simply taking a walk and enjoying nature – can work wonders too!
There is power in positive thinking. Guard your thoughts and dwell on what is pure, right and lovely. Find something to be grateful for every day and remember that life is short- don't waste it with worry and fear.
Heather Brewer gives excellent advice - "Bullying is a horrible thing. It sticks with you forever. It poisons you. But only if you let it."
If you ignore, dismiss, or deny the bully of fear & stress (over time) you may realize this giant has poisoned your health, outlook, and happiness!
I saved the best for last- clinging to faith and trusting in God is the ultimate weapon to defeating any giant in your life! Psalm 60:12 tells us that- "With God we will gain the victory; and He will trample down our enemies." When we fix our eyes in faith on Christ and believe that God always fulfills His promises, we are more than conquerors! Nothing in this life can hinder or defeat us!
Fear doesn't have to get the best of you- arm yourself properly and believe.
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” ~1 John 4:4