The next approach is attention to the will. This is where the “I want to” chorus comes in. I found a good chunk of internal freedom when I realized that I had forgotten what I wanted—with regards to anything—and so then I proceeded to remind myself of the things I want and like. From hot chocolate to emotional resilience to intellectual productivity. It’s important to want things. And, yes, part of the self-realization process involves letting go of those wants, of having no wants, essentially, which kind of sets into motion a sort of release (surrender) so that those wants can boomerang back on their own, in their own timing (under God’s providence). This is all part of the inner workings of fruitful faith.
But before we can ever totally break out of a place that is not good for us, we have to know that we actually want something else. We have to want it. Really want it. Our will has to be a part of the equation. (Though, I know, “Not my will but thine” is Jesus’ example to us in surrendering our will to God’s. This is not what I am talking about here. What I am talking about here is understanding that our will is not in and of itself something that we should try to act like we don’t have or try to avoid having. Similar to how we can effectively handle our emotions and our thoughts, our will is something that we need to learn how to steer well so that we are helped by it and not hindered by it.)
This is where my Thoughts for Effective Living came into play for me. It helps sometimes, with not feeling quite so overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, to declare our desires as “I will” statements. These should align with our personal development goals and, if you adhere to a Christian worldview, align with the Word of God. We are not out there somewhere all by ourselves. God is holding our hand, reminding us that he is with us and that we have nothing to fear. As this notion relates to reducing stress, an example would be that I don’t want to be stressed out all the time anymore. I want to be healthy and I want to live a stress-free (is that even possible?) life. I will be calm and centered and happy. I will learn how to handle my stress effectively so that I am not so often overcome by worry, anxiety, and daily pressures. I will be happy, and I will get there in a healthy, balanced way.