In My Bright Abyss, poet and Yale professor Christian Wiman wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to outgrow than anxieties that have become useful to us.” I’m a psychotherapist who used to be a Baptist pastor in the Southeast. For much of my life I have believed that anxiety is not only an unfortunate byproduct of pursuing excellence in my life and work (sort of like off-gassing for the human soul) but a deeply integral component of that which secures my success. Somehow I picked up along the way that my anxiety was a reliable way of measuring how hard I was working and how seriously I was taking the next assignment, job, prayer, paper, relationship or client.
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