We all deal with anxiety in our lives. How often have you wondered to yourself, “Why do I keep worrying when I know better?” … “Why can’t I let go when I know I am supposed to trust God?” A great majority of us have wondered these kinds of things over and over.
It all comes down to what we really believe. We may know that God will take care of us, but if only about 20% of our mind believes it and 80% of our mind thinks we have to save ourselves, protect others and/or keep ourselves safe, then worry will win out.
Specifically, we hold on to worry because we believe it:
- Prepares us for the worst. If we are prepared, we are safe.
- Enables us to figure things out; so we can know what to do.
- Gives us control. If we can figure it out, we can make things okay.
But now let’s look at the truth about worry. While many of us know that worry does not really accomplish the above, we still need to remind ourselves and meditate on what’s really going on when we worry, so that we can really “get” the fact that it’s not giving us what we look for. The truth is…
Worry does not protect us.
a) 85% of the time, what we are afraid of does not even happen. That is a lot of wasted energy for absolutely nothing.
b) We are totally drained mentally, emotionally and physically. Our perception is more negative, our heart is heavy and sad, and sometimes our body is so tired we can hardly do daily tasks. Clearly, we are not being protected.
c) When we are a mess emotionally and physically because of worry, we end up approaching future events with greater negativity and feelings of weakness. We are so worn down that we are more likely to feel greater stress from any future events, rather than being able to tackle them peacefully.
We can’t figure things out by worrying.
When we worry, we are actually fixating on a particular set of thoughts or mental picture and we feel stuck in it. Rather than being able to think clearly, our mind becomes more foggy and less creative. We feel paralyzed to some extent by these thoughts and unable to consider anything different. Chances are, if you have not been able to figure something out already, it is won’t accomplish anything to dwell on it now.
We won’t have control just because we expect what’s coming.
a) As said earlier, most of the time what we imagine won’t even happen. We also will never know every little thing that’s going to happen in our lives ahead of time. Never. Why try what we can’t do?
b) Our knowledge does not give us control. Nor does it impact anyone around us because we can’t decide for other people. It is actually our ability to rest that displays true control. It is being in the present. Because if we are not in the present, then mentally we are soaring somewhere else, essentially out of control. Real control is having peace.
Considering the above, it looks like we are all in trouble. If we can’t make things okay then how will we manage? This is the point where we shift our thinking. And we find the other part of the picture that ends up being very good news:
1. It is not our responsibility
This is key to understand. Did you know that it is not your job to take care of the big things? A child is not meant to take on the matters of her father. Nor is she meant to care for herself. That is her parent’s job. It is God’s job to take care of you. Why burden yourself when you are not meant to? Picture a 5 year old girl trying to drag her heavy suitcase around the airport, when her strong father is walking by her side. He looks at her with such care and attention, waiting to take it from her. But she refuses to give it to Him. Then when she considers it, she tries with all her might to take it back. It’s just not the way things should work.
2. We can accept not being in charge
Sometimes we really just don’t like not being in charge. We think we know best. We forget that God really loves us and knows how to accomplish good things for us and those we love. We think if we do something, that is the only way things will get done. So we overthink and worry and worry, believing deep down that we are accomplishing something from it. But we must consider these points: It is okay if we can’t control everything. It is okay if we can’t impact other’s decisions. We are our own people, in charge of ourselves. Even if we could do anything, we still would not know always what is best. And that is okay too. Mistakes are okay, they can lead to realizations and change. Control can lead to anger and more fear. It doesn’t all have to feel enormous to us.
3. God will take care of us and help our loved ones
The truth is that God created us to lean on Him. We are designed to depend on Him for our needs; that is why it doesn’t work trying to be independent. He is perfect in love, so He could never let us down. To think that He would not take proper care of us is like looking at the most loving parent and saying, “you won’t take care of your child.” Whether it feels that way or not, it is even more absurd to accuse God of that. God is serious about His promise to watch over us, provide for us, bless us and answer our prayers, because it is literally impossible for Him to ever lie. God lying would be like changing the nature of gravity. It just can’t happen. We must take Him at His words. Then as our faith grows, God is able to do even more wonderful things because of our belief.
God loves each of us personally, is more attentive to our every thought, than any person ever could be. And He cares for our loved ones so absolutely deeply, that His love for them far exceeds even our own. Will He not be faithful to help (especially when we petition Him to) when He desires it so much as well?
4. We CAN change and it is worth it
The great news is that no matter how long we have been habitual worriers, we can always change. New things are always possible. And it is God’s great desire, as it is your own. Ask Him to help you and open your hands that you may let go; to develop greater faith in Him. He will answer. We usually change over a period of time, letting go more often and more completely, as our lives progress. But it is our decision to start, and we must take seriously the movement to become free. If we really want the change, we’ll keep moving forward.
Yes, letting go is definitely worth it. This is something we must keep in mind because we need the motivation. And we choose to do things because we think it is helpful, what we want, etc. Remind yourself of the above reasons why worry doesn’t do what you want it to. And think of the better things that come from release…Feeling content, able to live in the present. Having more energy, feeling closer to God. Watching God do great things.
Think of how much you long to be free from worry, how pointless it really is, and how you can have the peace and safety you’ve needed.
Other Valuable Tips for Releasing Worry…
- When stuck on worrisome thoughts, it helps to say outloud, “STOP.” Then say something different outloud that replaces your worry with truth; something like, “Be still and know that I am God.”
- It helps to bring yourself to the present. Focus on what you physically feel in the moment your in (like the chair underneath you, etc), what you smell, etc. Embrace the moment. Also, be conscious and thankful for every little good thing you have.
- Tell yourself, “everything will be okay.” Things aren’t as big as they feel. I have news, they really aren’t as big as you feel. Listen to facts, not feelings.
- Take deep breaths and quiet yourself privately. Imagine your worries make up smoke (something visible) within, and visualize it coming out with every exhale.
- Exercise to bring release, peace and inner strength. At least take brisk walks 3 times a week.
- Eat well, take a multivitamin (adding extra C and B vitamins help when stressed) and get enough sleep (melatonin is a natural supplement that helps, if need be). The state of your body impacts your mind’s ability to rest as well.