Getting to the Root of Worry

"Can any one of you by worry add a single hour to your life?" - Jesus

I've always found this quote challenging, because I don't expect worry to actually add time to my life; that's not my goal.  To be candid, my worry is usually a feeble attempt to have control.  I wonder if my approach overlaps with yours.

When I worry, I act as though spending an inordinate amount of thought and emotion on a circumstance gives me more control of the outcome.  I talk myself into believing that stewing on a fear will keep the negative outcomes at bay.  After all, if I pace the floor and stay up all night, things will go my way.  Right?

worry pencil
worry pencil

Of course not.

Worry is funny that way.  When we fret over an issue, it often feels like we're doing something when we're not.  If worry isn't additive (not even a single hour to my life!), then it probably just makes things worse.

In fact, we should avoid worry the way we avoid crowded streets known for their sneaky pickpockets.  Worry is a dangerous thief who threatens to snatch our wallet and run off with the treasures we hold.

  • Worry steals the joy of today.
  • Worry hijacks the hope of tomorrow.
  • Worry spoils freedom in our life.

Some say, "Worry is  misplaced imagination."  Creative thinking, perhaps!  Useful, no.

Most of us feel the tension around worry and we know the solution to is to simply "let go" of our fears and think about something more productive than "what if..."   The cliche "easier said than done" fits!

However, there are  practical steps to STOP worry from starting.  I think of three areas where honest questioning  helps identify the source of the fear.   The questions below are what I ask myself to get at the core issue.

Emotional Reality Check

-Is the situation emotionally charged?  Is my fear tied to emotions and disconnected from logic? -What logical information am I not factoring into my thinking? -Can I wait to evaluate my "next step" so that I have time to allow my emotions to even out? -Who can I talk to who isn't emotionally tied to the situation to give me a clear perspective?

Practical Restraints

- Do I really need to do this research?  Or can I walk away from the computer? - Should I send that email or would it be smarter to push "delete?" - Is another text message really necessary? - Should I call the friend who loves to speculate about negative outcomes or give the interaction a break?

Spiritual Insights

-Does my worry communicate disbelief in God and his role in my life? -Do I think I can "play God" and control my life through worry? -Am I living my life in a way that reflects my understanding of who God is and that his power is greater than my fears? -How can I reconnect with what God says about his plans for me?

And so, understanding worry can be as simple as deciding if your emotions are running your fears.  Or perhaps you're allowing yourself access to too many inputs that are reinforcing your worst nightmare.  You may even need to spend time on your spiritual journey to see if there's a disconnect between the "control" you think you have and the "control" that's never been yours.

Anyone who has lost weight and kept it off for a long time will tell you that you must decide your strategy in advance and apply the approach daily.  Removing worry from our lives is even more beneficial than losing those extra 10 lbs.!

The result of purging worry is the return of joy, hope, and freedom.