Have you ever found worry lingering like an uninvited guest, overstaying its welcome? It often sneaks in when you ponder the future or when you’re thinking about something or someone you care about. Before you know it, your thoughts are swept up in a problem that hasn’t even happened yet. However, your brain and body believe it’s already a reality.
But here's an essential truth: no amount of worry ever does you any good. You fool yourself into believing that worrying is akin to taking action… mistakenly believing you are solving a problem, predicting an outcome, or demonstrating that you care. This is simply not true; you are only feeding your anxiety.
In this blog post, you will learn how worry affects your mind and body and how you can break free from these intrusive thoughts and feelings.
Understanding Worry and Its Impact
Worry is both a temptation and a trap.
At its core, worry is your mind dwelling on potential negative outcomes. It's those 'what if' scenarios – the dreaded possibilities – that replay in your mind over and over again.
Worry tempts you to focus on an unknown but feared future with your current limited resources. When you worry, you imagine a feared consequence while believing it is beyond your ability to cope. And because your imagination is so powerful, your brain responds as if the dreaded future is already happening and sends stress hormones throughout your body preparing you for action.
Worry is also a trap that keeps you in an endless loop of feeling out of control and needless “living” out undesired scenarios. It's a trap that gives you this weird but false sense of security. The underlying belief is that if you keep focusing on what you don’t want to happen, worry will possibly ward off the feared outcome.
Jesus understood the nature of worry and addressed it:
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
How Your Thoughts Impact Your Worry
Are your thoughts taking you right into a ditch or are they keeping you focused on your goals? Are they leading you into worry and fear or are they reflecting your faith and confidence that God is still on the throne?
Worry has never changed the future, but it sure does change the present.
Stuff is going to happen today. Some good. Some not so good. Some pretty mundane. But the quality of your day will be determined by the thoughts you have about what is happening.
If you don’t want to be reacting to every single unexpected or unpleasant piece of “news,” then be mindful of your thoughts. Where your thoughts go, your energy flows.
I’ve said it many times and will likely keep saying it because we forget. Your thoughts create your reality. What you choose to dwell upon today will significantly impact your emotions, your mood, and your attitude.
Strategies to Release Worry
I don’t think we will ever completely eliminate worry from our lives. It’s a normal response to actual or potential problems.
So what can you do with your worries?
Acknowledge Your Feelings: It's okay to recognize your emotions. Be kind and compassionate to yourself, understanding that everyone worries at times.
Choose Your Focus: Decide not to dwell in your worries. If there's an action you can take, do it. If not, imagine releasing your worries like a balloon floating away.
Let Go and Trust: Hand over your concerns to God. Trust that what you can't control, He can.
Mindful Breathing: Practice breath prayers. Inhale: "I give my burdens to You, God." Exhale: "You will take care of me." This helps center your thoughts and calm your mind.
When a worry thought comes to mind, ask yourself, “what can I do about it right now?” If there is something you can do, do it. If not, imagine putting all your worries in a balloon and letting it fly away.
Let it go. Release it to God.
And when the worry thought tries to re-enter your mind, remind yourself it’s not yours to carry. You’ve done what you can, and it’s now God’s responsibility.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
What’s the Antidote to Worry?
The first step is awareness. Recognize when you're caught in the worry cycle.
Next, consciously choose to return to the present moment. Let go of trying to predict the future – it's out of your hands and in God's.
Instead, focus on what you can control. God has given you important tasks for today, and worry isn't one of them.
Lastly, exhale worry, and inhale peace. “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” - Psalm 55:22
Remember, every instance of worry is an opportunity to strengthen your trust in God's plan and to cultivate a mindset of peace and resilience.
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