How to Break the Cycle of Worry in Your Life
How to Break the Cycle of Worry in Your Life
Have you ever said, “Oh, I’m just a worrier.”? For many years of my life, “Worrier” was my middle name. In fact, the beginning of most of my thoughts started with the same two-word phrase, “What if…?” Those thoughts usually ended with me dissolving into a pile of defeated tears. During one season of my life that I refer to as the “Dark Years,” our family was struggling on all levels of life due to a variety of unexpected hardships. Each day, my list of what-if worries grew like adding cars on the back of an already long train.
Did you know that the word worry actually means to strangle or torture? Worry begins when we ask what if questions about uncertain situations we can’t control. Without knowing how things will turn out, we tend to answer those what if questions with the worst-case scenario endings. For example, if your boss asks you to drop by her office before you leave for the day, you might begin wondering, What if she doesn’t like the report I’ve done? or What if I lose my job? Without a way to know the answer, your mind starts running a mental movie starring you. As the scenes unfold, you see yourself unemployed, unhappy, hungry and homeless on the street. By the time your mental movie ends, your heartbeat is racing, you’ve got a queasy stomach and your entire afternoon is ruined.
Research tells us that 85% of what we worry about won’t actually happen, but that doesn’t stop us from worrying. How many times have you played the awful mental movie in your mind imagining the worst-case scenario that never happened? We’d think that would stop us from making up mental movies in the future, but it doesn’t, even when those movies wear us out.
For over a decade, I worked in ministry, business and as a life coach helping women like myself deal with anxiety and worry from God’s perspective. In my book, Winning the Worry Battle, I identify four different types of worriers and how they act out worry in their lives:
A. Silent Sufferer: Stuffs her worries deep inside and doesn’t talk about them.
B. Mother Hen: Often nags others to try to reduce stress and anxiety.
C. Busy Body: Constant activity because unfinished tasks or projects create stress and worry.
D. Control Freak: Maneuvers or manipulates others in order to reduce inner anxiety.
Which one can you relate to? During my kids’ younger years, I was a control freak because I worried non-stop about my self-image, my kids and my husband. I worried that my kids’ teachers would think that I was a bad mom, so I controlled what my kids packed for lunch. I was so afraid that my kids would get kidnapped that I wouldn’t let them ride their bikes around the block. I thought that if I could control everything, then I would feel less anxious. But that wasn’t true! There was always something to be worried about, so I tried to control things until God allowed a few situations in my life I couldn’t control. That was God’s invitation to turn my fears and worries over to Him! That’s when I finally won my worry battle. I’ve since made heart-felt amends with my family because my worry deeply affected their lives.
No matter what kind of worrier you are, I think you already know this: Worrying doesn’t work. Like the old saying goes, worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. Jesus pointed this out to us long ago. In Matthew 6, he was talking to a group of people on a hillside. I think Jesus knew there were all types of worriers standing and listening to him that day. In verse 27 (NLT), Jesus challenges us with the following words:
“Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life?”
Worry steals the best and precious moments of our lives.
Worry keeps us from enjoying the company of our friends because we’re worried about appearing smart enough or successful enough.
Worry steals our best moments at work when we experience a great day because worry plants insecurity, a fear of failure in the future in our minds.
Worries steal our attention away from our children because instead of focusing on reading them a story or just looking them in the eyes, we’re panicking over unpaid bills or relationship drama.
Can I offer you a suggestion if you’d like to win over worry and reclaim the best and precious moments of your life?
A Simple Prayer to Help You Battle Your Worry
I want to tell you about a practical worry-fighting tool that I call the 1+1 Technique. It’s simple to use. Every time I worry, I follow that worry with a prayer. This might seem so simple to some of you, but this might give you permission to start praying again. Sometimes, we give up on praying because we feel guilty about worrying all the time. But, with this tool, you can practice chasing your worry with prayer until you train yourself how to pray before you worry.
If you’d like to try my 1+1 technique, but need words to say, you can use these: Dear God, I’ve been a worrier for far too long. However, I don’t want to let worry steal the best and precious moments of my life. So, God, I give you my worries today. I know that You are with me and for me in every circumstance, real or imagined. I don’t have to fear the future because you are with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
My friend, make today the last day that you let fear or worry steal the best and precious moments of your life!
Barb Roose is a popular speaker and author who is passionate about connecting women to one another and to God. Her goal is to equip women to win at life with Christ-empowered strength and dignity. Roose enjoys teaching and encouraging women at conferences and events across the country and abroad. Her latest book is Winning the Worry Battle: Life Lessons from the Book of Joshua along with the companion Bible study. You can follow Barb at barbroose.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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