I’ve been a worrier my whole life. It’s a terrible tendency!
I remember worrying about things while growing up (which, consequentially, usually turned out just fine!). I remember worrying about things in college. I remember worrying at work last school year. I even remember worrying about things this morning!
Worry can eat you up – it’s a type of fear that attacks from the inside out. It’s rooted in our minds but it also seeps into our heart and our physical body.
While worrying can sometimes spark a bit of preparedness in us, overall, it’s not useful to us. Unfortunately, I use that “excuse” to worry all too often – “But if I didn’t worry about it, then I wouldn’t be emotionally prepared!” Bless Bjorn’s heart. He hears this a lot. The thing is, when I tell myself that worry is helping me, I am also telling myself that I should worry. I’m stunting myself then, and holding myself back – from joy, from freedom.
I’ve learned over the years what’s useful to myself and my worrying tendencies…and what’s not. Although I’ve developed some better ways to handle it, I do still struggle with worry. So, these tips today are every bit as much for myself as they are for you, dear friend!
Strategies For Dealing With Your Tendency to Worry:
1 // Don’t catastrophize. This is a term Bjorn came home with after an army training class called MRT (Master Resiliency Training). AKA a class I need to take!! 🙂 From my understanding, MRT focuses on mental and even emotional resiliency in life’s situations – so that you can bounce back more quickly and effectively.
Catastrophizing is the habit of constantly assuming the worst is going to happen, in a cyclical way that feeds on itself. For example, “If I mess up on this project at work, then I’ve essentially failed, and then everyone will look down on me, and then my boss will fire me, and then it’ll be hard for me to get another job!” That sounds a bit dramatic when I actually put it down word for word, but I think most of us would be surprised if we really wrote down or heard all of our detailed, worrisome thoughts out loud!
The first step is to identify that you are, in fact, catastrophizing. I initially would be irritated when my husband pointed out I was catastrophizing in a given situation — but that’s because one of the ickiest feelings is to actually admit to yourself that you are!! Once you can notice it in yourself, you can begin to stop it. Notice when you are assuming the worst will happen, and ask yourself just how practical that truly is.
2 // Control what you can. Everyone has their own personal negative tendencies. What? We all have character flaws?! Yep. 🙂 I’m going to get really honest here and say that I struggle with worry/anxiety, perfectionism, and a lack of trust that things will turn out all right. I struggle BIG TIME with control.
I love being in control. I love it when things go exactly like I wanted/planned/thought/prepared for. But, if humans are completely in control, they then have no use for a God. Ouch.
So, a truth I daily must acknowledge is the fact that I am NOT in control, and there is a God infinitely bigger than me (and infinitely wiser and perfect) who IS in control. And I need to submit that to Him.
In the meantime, if I hold onto control with looser hands – hands of trust and not “it’s mine!!!!” – then I can still tend to a few things here on earth.
For instance, I am a huge fan of planners. I’ve had a planner ever since they became mandatory for us in third grade! And I have relied on my planners throughout the years, lovingly crafting each to-do list.
For me, my anxiety is lessened when I spend time setting up a logical schedule and filling out my calendar. It’s okay to want to look ahead, to want to be organized and accomplish goals. But this is all within recognizing that there is One who is lovingly in more control than I.
3 // Talk to the One who dispels all fear. Prayer is not about having the perfect words, or impressing others, or (gasp!) even closing your eyes. (In fact, if you’re praying while driving, please don’t close your eyes!) Just plain talk to God. Interact with Him by acknowledging His presence, and recognizing His power. Ask Him to work in your heart to knead out those knots of fear. And thank Him because He has promised you the deepest kind of love, and an eternal kind of peace.
Write Scripture. If you get it in your notebooks, on your walls, or on your bathroom mirror, it’s more likely to find its way inside your heart when you feel that familiar worry surge up again.
A couple of my favorites:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” – Psalm 94:18-19 (NIV)
I love the Psalms so much. My friend Jordan wrote a beautiful post about fighting anxiety with truths from the Psalms – definitely read that for Biblical encouragement!
“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth…?” – Isaiah 51:12-13 (NIV)
4 // Worship! One of the best ways to turn your mind from your current worries is to turn it to praise! I shared my favorite Spotify worship music playlist a while back, and I’m so glad that it brought you encouragement!
Look up the song “Lord of Hosts” by Shane & Shane – I used to blast this one during a particularly difficult season last year.
In addition, there’s a new Jeremy Camp CD out called “I Will Follow.” I’d like to give you the opportunity to get new worship music for free so I’m giving away a copy below!
Jeremy Camp has released a music video to go along with his new single “Christ In Me” – check it out here.
So, what are you waiting for? Reset your habits of worry with these new mental habits, with prayer, and with worship!
How do you hit “reset” when you’re wrestling with worry?