It is hard for gratitude and anxiety to share space. The powerful practice of being grateful can be an incredible way to combat anxiety. Steve Sunshine hosts Dr. Gregory Jantz as he shares real life examples of how gratitude gives us hope for the future and helps change body chemistry.
Dr. Gregory Jantz: I need to have a plan in order to feel optimistic, but gratitude’s a part of that. The more, you know, and we love being around grateful people, by the way. Grateful people are like a magnet. We love being with them and they’re easy to be with. So that gratitude produces an optimistic viewpoint of the future.
Steve Sunshine: You may not know it, but you have access to a very powerful weapon against anxiety. It’s gratitude. Being thankful for the good things in our lives can help lower our anxiety. Hi, and welcome to episode two of Overcoming Anxiety, a five-part podcast from purposely I’m Steve Sunshine, along with Dr. Greg Jantz, founder of The Center – A Place of Hope, and author of the Anxiety Reset.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about how gratitude helps fight anxiety. Now here’s my conversation with Dr. Jantz.
Gratitude is such a powerful thing. It’s so transformative. And I feel like maybe gratitude is catching on because more and more people seem to be talking about it. Maybe it’s because of kind of pushed into a corner by everything that’s been going on and we need to try something, but it’s amazing how gratitude is connected to other, other blessings, other types of things in your life that, um, that, that the people generally want.
So how, how does gratitude interact with anxiety?
Dr. Gregory Jantz: It’s difficult for gratitude and anxiety to live together. Gratitude is a state that we decide we’re going to practice with god’s help. Gratitude says I’m humble and teachable, and I’m going to take the focus off of me. Gratitude says thank you God, for this day, every day.
Um, I’ll tell you my wife, uh, we went through our own journey where she was having cancer treatment and for seven years, every day as a part of her quiet time, she would do a gratitude journal. Every day and write down. I don’t know how you’re, how you do a gratitude journal when you’re having chemo and your brain isn’t working and you feel very sick. But for seven years, every morning, Same place, same time every morning. And I asked her not long ago, cause she’s maintained this now it’s been 10 years, so, but she really, uh, was in this place of cancer treatment for quite extended periods. She says, well, I’m up to 22,000 something, gratitudes. I go, what? How do you, you come up with 22,000? I’m a guy. If I get three or four for the week, that’s good.
22,000? That’s amazing. And, but she said something that really stood out. She says, you know, I think it’s part of what God gave me that kept me alive cause gratitude, we know, and actually there’s been studies amazingly on top of gratitude. It’s very powerful. Gratitude promotes optimism. Gratitude gives us hope for the future, and gratitude over time, helps change body chemistry. We release even more of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is what we get from exercising. So that said, um, the practice of gratitude, um, even when you don’t feel like it, and maybe you don’t even understand what that means, and maybe dig into what gratitude means and begin to integrate this in your life. Things will begin to happen.
Steve Sunshine: Did you, you didn’t check her 22,000 for duplicates did you? They’re probably allowed, aren’t they?
Dr. Gregory Jantz: Well, you know what was so funny? I did ask her a question. Am I on that list?
Steve Sunshine: Hopefully she said, yes. I’m sure she did. Um, so when negative thoughts, cause you know, optimism is part of the scenario too. You have to be optimistic to be grateful, or maybe you become optimistic if you’re grateful. But how, how do you handle negative thoughts when they just come around the corner and just surprise you?
Dr. Gregory Jantz: Negative thoughts, and maybe it’s been a challenge for you. And a negative thought if we dwell on it, it begins to build into the what ifs, and you go, well, what if didn’t wear the right clothes today? What if they don’t really want to see me? What if… and you begin a negative begins to create what ifs. And the what ifs began over time to create worry. Worry over time will create anxiety. Remember, you always know if you have anxiety because there’s a physical side to it. You feel it in your gut. Your palms might get sweaty. Um, you may have difficulty concentrating. It may affect your sleep. May affect appetite. So, there’s always a physical side to anxiety and that’s where the negative thinking can lead you. And we need to practice putting the truth in. You know, I still use, I still teach, uh, to use the old fashioned three by five cards. You have a negative thought, and you find, man, I’m just really struggling with this. I want you to write down on that card and always have it with you. Probably a verse that has to do with your thinking and renewing your thinking, but I want you to build an always practice, okay. I have this negative thought. What’s the real truth?
Can I even, can I even identify the truth because negative thoughts will begin to distort reality and what you believe.
Steve Sunshine: And that’s, that’s a tough situation. Some of the worst negative thoughts, I think, are the thoughts that people think about themselves. They kind of reshaped their identity and say, I am a blank, or I am always like this, or whatever. It’s that self-condemnation. I’ve, I’ve always been told that, you know, like the holy spirit will convict you, but not condemn you. Condemnation always comes from the enemy. So, yeah. How do you, how do you help people through that?
Dr. Gregory Jantz: You know what, that’s true. Uh, it comes from the enemy and that’s, if our thinking can get off and our thinking you get distorted, because how I think tells me how to feel and then tells me how, what I’m going to do. If I feel depressed, okay, or I think I’m depressed. I began to feel that way. And then I began to act a certain way. So, I wanted us to really understand that process. Um, condemnation may have come from, maybe you grew up where there was some trauma, significant trauma. There could have been some abuse. But this comes into our life usually because in some way, maybe we have shame. We feel defective. We feel that something is wrong with us. Um, and probably because something happened, and you started to believe a lie.
Steve Sunshine: So, optimism, yeah, we’ve been talking about that too, is a, um, you know, if you’re in a situation where things just don’t look good, you don’t have to be a pessimist to think things don’t look good. You got some, some real life situation on the horizon that is actually causing a problem, and you’re looking for hope in that. Where do you, where do you find optimism? I mean, I know you’re not talking about something like, you know, we’re just going to think happy thoughts to thinking there. I guess there’s a choice between I can either frame this this way or another way
Dr. Gregory Jantz: Sure, optimism, I’m going to want to look at that and go, okay, if I have hope in my life and I will, I will begin to have optimism for my future. Hope, hope comes when I have a plan. So, I need to look at what is my plan. What’s my plan for my good self-care? What’s my plan for, uh, keeping my relationships healthy? What am I going to begin to do, uh, in my life to keep growing? How am I going to keep spiritual renewal going? So, I need to have a plan in order to feel optimistic. Um, so, but gratitude’s a part of that, the more, you know, and we love being around grateful people, by the way, grateful people are like a magnet. It just, we love being with them and they’re easy to be with. So, that gratitude produces an optimistic viewpoint of the future.
Steve Sunshine: That’s remarkable. Uh what’s uh, what’s an example of, um, a situation where somebody has come in and, and said, you know, I want to go from negative to positive or pessimistic to optimistic.
What’s the first thing you tell them?
Dr. Gregory Jantz: Oh, okay. Well, you know, this is our 38 years. We’ve been doing this for a while. I’m the founder of The Center – A Place of Hope, and one of the things that we do is we work with folks literally from all over the country who come in for that very reason. I’m tired of being depressed.
I’m tired how I feel about myself. My anxiety is over the top, but maybe I’ve dealt with a secret addiction and that’s what brings a person. After a while we began to go, I can’t, I can’t go on this way, so they seek help. So, really, it’s about looking at, I look, I’m going to go back to the whole person back in the early eighties, we started up this thing that we called whole person care.
And that means I’ve got to address is there unforgiveness in my life, under the spiritual heading? Where am I? My full resentments, bitterness… emotionally, what did I learn about myself? How do I handle the three deadly emotions? Anger, fear, guilt. You know, those are the emotions that’ll trip you up. Some form of anger hurts a form of anger, uh, fear, anxiety, and guilt or shame. So where, how do I manage those emotions in my life? Where are my relationships? Am I able to create and maintain healthy relationships? Um, what’s my calling. What, you know, God has us here and, uh, we’re always the most fulfilled if we’re, if we feel like we’re, we’re using our gifts and we’re, we’re moving in a direction that fulfills our sense of who we are.
And so, those are all the things we have to look at. Now, we got to do that in certain steps. You can’t, you don’t do that all at once. So, and you know what we pray for wisdom. There’s always a missing piece to the puzzle.
Steve Sunshine: Absolutely. And imagine having surrounded yourself with people who are already optimistic or, or grateful or both, has got to help, help you kind of swim that direction.
Dr. Gregory Jantz: Well, that’s why I want at least three people in my life that are truth tellers that I feel loved and accepted by, and, uh, that will pray for me. So remember, I know I’m growing. If I move out of what I call self-absorption. When I’m so depressed and so anxious, it’s hard to think beyond myself. I’m absorbed in my own pain.
One of the things that we see in the clients that we work with, is over time, I’m less self-absorbed I feel healing, and I then have an ability to place my eyes on others and really move over to more of being of service to others.
Steve Sunshine: Well, we’ll show our gratitude by saying thanks to Dr. Greg Jantz for joining us for this series. In our next episode, talk about how we can eat better for better emotional health. So be sure to follow this podcast and get the next episode of Overcoming Anxiety.
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