As I travel the country speaking about how to overcome anxiety, one question comes up repeatedly…
“How can I stop worrying?”
For many anxious individuals, a life without worry seems like an impossibility. The good news is that eliminating worrying is not only possible, but it is a very achievable goal. And that statement is coming from someone who has been a severe worrier for most of his life. In fact, not only have I suffered from anxiety from when I was a child, but I have been to the emergency room several times suffering from severe panic attacks. Therefore, if I can overcome worry so can you!
Here’s what you need to remember. Worrying is a choice. Unlike fear, it is not an emotion. We can’t control fear, but we can control worrying. Every time that we begin to worry about something, it involves a conscious (although for some of us it can become subconscious) decision on our part. Therefore, instead of choosing to worry (when we’re afraid), we can choose to pray, or read the Bible, or go to Mass, or spend time with Jesus in adoration. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Whenever I’m tempted to start worrying, I can just as easily turn to the Lord instead. It also makes sense from a practical point of view. Worrying accomplishes nothing, but prayer always produces results.
Lent is the perfect time to try putting this into practice. And yes, I did say “try”. For many of us, worrying has become a habit. As a result, it will take some work to eliminate it from our lives and we will probably fail more than we succeed. But don’t give up. With God’s help, it is a winnable battle. Why not try it with the next problem that you encounter? Just one time. Try it and see how you feel. If you succeed then you can try it for the next problem, and the next. Before you know it, you’ll be giving up worrying for Lent. And, by the way, if you’re tempted to feel that it’s impossible to give up worrying, remember the words of the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Mother:
“…for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)