Overcoming Worry

By Nancy Twigg

Several years ago my husband Michael and I went camping with our good friends, Mark and Faith. One evening around the campfire, we talked about worrying, and which partner does the majority of it in each couple. We all laughed when Mark joked, "I don't have to worry - Faith does enough of it for both of us!"

I confess that like Faith, I tend to be a worrywart. Recently during one of my worrying phases, I read a Bible verse that spoke directly to my heart. The verse was Psalm 37:8: "...Do not fret - it leads only to evil."

Oh, the wisdom in that statement. How many times do we work ourselves into a frenzy over situations whose outcomes are out of our control? How much energy is wasted fretting over things that might happen but never come to pass? One study found that 97% of the things people worry about never happen. What a tragic waste of spiritual, emotional, and mental energy!

Besides physical ailments such as ulcers and headaches, here are some other consequences of worry:

  • Doubt - thinking less than the best of yourself, others, and God

  • Discouragement - wanting to throw in the towel before it is time

  • Envy - wondering why life has not given you as good a deal as someone else

  • Regret - dwelling on how things could have or should have been

  • Depression - feeling that life is closing in on you

  • Ingratitude - overlooking the many things you have to be
    thankful for

None of these contribute to health, effectiveness, or happiness. Any one of these evils - let alone several combined - can easily drain the life right out of you.

I realize that overcoming a life-long habit of worrying can be a daunting challenge. Here are some tips I have discovered over the years that help me break out of the worrying mode.

First, find a friend who will listen objectively as you describe what you are worrying about. Often I find that my worry loses its power when I put it into words. Usually before I can even finish, I think to myself, "Why am I getting so worked up over that?!"

Next, analyze the situation with this question in mind: How much of this is really under my control? One giant step toward inner peace is accepting that much of what happens around you is beyond your control. Decide on a positive plan of action for those things you can change. Make a rigid commitment to let go of those things you cannot change.

And lastly, be aggressive in taking thoughts of worry captive and not allowing them to steal your peace of mind. When worry tries to sneak in after you've already let go, get ruthless. Say boldly, "Get away from me, worry. You are not welcome here. I refuse to dwell on anxious thoughts."

Oswald Chambers, author of the devotional classic, "My Utmost for His Highest," wrote that it is one thing to say, "Don't fret," but a very different thing to have such a disposition that you find yourself unable to fret. It is my goal to leave the worrywart behind so that someday I will find myself, as Mr. Chambers described, completely unable to worry.

Nancy Twigg is an author and speaker who loves inspiring others to live more simply. This article is an excerpt from A Month of Mites: 31 Devotionals on Simple Christian Living, a book about giving God the best you have to offer (http://www.countingthecost.com/mites.htm).


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