12 Easy Steps To Overcoming Worry
The word worry comes from old English, meaning to “Strangle” or to “cause anxiety”. If you are in the habit of worrying, I am sure there have been times when you felt "strangled" or "anxious".
However, these 12 easy steps will empower you to kick the worry habit forever:
1. Distinguish between worry and concern.
While it’s healthy to be concerned about something, it’s unhealthy to worry about it.
Concern can motivate you to do something to solve or cope with an actual or potential problem. Worry, on the other hand, keeps you stuck on problems and distracts you from planning any helpful ways of dealing with them.
As an example, I am concerned when driving because of the number of drivers who text and/or talk on their cellphones. That concern motivates me to be on the lookout for and to try to avoid those drivers. Worry, instead, might might cause me to become so anxious about the potential hazards that I quit driving.
2. Recognize the futility of worry.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 5:27 NIV)
Worry cannot help you prevent unwanted things from happening. In addition, researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that 85 percent of what we worry about never happens. As Mark Twain said, “I’ve had lots of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” So, worry is an exercise in futility.
3. Recognize the impact worry has on your body.
A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick. (Proverbs 17:22 TLB)
Studies show that chronic worry can lead to: migraine headaches, ulcers, elevated blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, increased infections, constipation, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, insomnia, and can make severe hot flashes worse.
4. Decide not to worry.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. (Psalm 23:4 GNT)
David made a decision regarding fear. Likewise, you must decide that you will not worry.
As Tony Robbins says: “Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent and committed decision.”
5. Recognize that your thoughts cause your worry.
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. (Proverbs 4:23 GNT)
If you think worried thoughts, you will be worried.
Worrisome thoughts usually begin with “What if” or “Suppose”, e.g. “What if I get laid off”, or “Suppose I am single the rest of my life.” “What if the stock market takes a dip?”
6. Replace worrisome thoughts with God’s promises.
We take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Notice that I said “Replace” not “Suppress” Why? Let’s look at an example. Suppose you think “What if I am laid off from my job?” Let’s further say you try to suppress the thought by saying, “I am not going to worry about being laid off.” The more you try not to think about it, the more your mind focuses on it.
On the other hand, if you think, “What if I am laid off from my job?” and you replace the thought with “My God will supply all of my needs from his riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Notice how the worry goes away?
Repeat this process each time you have a worrisome thought. You can find replacement Bible verses in my popular book, The Power to Rejoice: 21 Days to Victory Over Your Problems,
7. Shift your Focus.
What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny. - Robin S. Sharma
If you focus your thoughts on your circumstances, you will drift into worry 100% of the time. Instead, focus on Jesus, who is in control of your circumstances.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
Remember that Peter was able to walk on water, until he took his eyes off Jesus and began focusing on his circumstances. (Matthew 14:28-31 NIV)
8. Take life one day at a time.
Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. (Matthew 6:34 NIV)
Instead of thinking about all of the things that might happen, (which does not prevent them from happening and which are not likely to happen anyway) focus on today.
Jesus gives a model for living one day at a time in The Lord’s Prayer: Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11 NIV)
Psalm 118:24 (ESV) highlights the importance of focusing on today: This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
As Dale Carnegie said, “Today is our most precious possession.”
9. Give up trying to control things.
Let go of your concerns. Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth. (Psalm 46:10 GW)
There are only three things that you control: what you think, what you say and what you do. Trying to control anything else leads to worry and anxiety.
10. Trust God.
There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there. -SI Robertson
No matter what issues you are facing, remember two things:
God is in control. It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I decided. (Isaiah 14:14 NLT)
God is working everything for your good. (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV)
Dale Carnegie said: “When I asked Mr. Henry Ford if he ever worried, he replied: “No”. I believe God is managing affairs and that he doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So, what is there to worry about.”
11. Apply the Willis H. Carrier formula.
Ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that could happen?”
Prepare to accept it if you have to.
Then calmly proceed to take action to improve on the worst.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose you are worried about losing your job.
Step a: What is the worst thing that could happen? You could actually receive a layoff notice.
Step b: After determining the worst thing that could happen, prepare yourself to accept it. You decide that God will provide another job. (Philippians 4:19 says, "God will supply all my needs.")
Step c: Devote time and energy to updating your resume, networking, and improving your interviewing skills.
12. Be Thankful.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)
Research shows that worry and thanksgiving cannot co-exist in the brain at the same time.
So, be thankful for the things you have, instead of worrying about “What If...” and “Suppose...”
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