Worrying, Worrying, Worrying

By Lee E. Warren B.A., D.D.

( 1998 Vol. 7, No. 1, PLIM REPORT)

(Feel free to copy and circulate this article for non-commercial purposes provided the Web site and author are cited.)

See Related Articles: PSYCHOLOGY

Introduction

A worried mind is a troubled mind that is not at peace. Even though mankind in past civilizations had a rougher time surviving the elements and avoiding imminent dangers than modern man, it is modern man who is consumed by worry.

Throughout all cultures writers have written about the worry men experience, both real and imaginary, as they face a multitude of challenges in the journey of life. Job wrote: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble (Job 14:1)." An old Chinese saying goes: "the mind is man’s best friend or his worst enemy."

Humans worry because they lack knowledge of the future and fear their limited capacity. Mothers worry whether their children will be safe, responsible, well adjusted. Children worry whether they are living up to their parents expectations. Students and lawyers worry whether they will pass exams and have made persuasive arguments. Doctors worry whether they gave the correct diagnosis and if their patients will be cured. Patients worry whether the treatment will be effective and they will regain their health. The list of people worrying about themselves and others is endless.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, told the country during the Great Depression that the greatest fear was fear itself. Now George McDonald wrote the following about worry. "No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourselves so. If you find yourselves so loaded, at least remember this: It is your doing, not God’s. He begs you to leave the future to Him, and mind the present."

Mankind is in a constant state of worry about anything and everything. Even the Messiah’s disciples worried. In response to their concern He told them: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in Elohim (God), believe also in me (John 14:1)."

So clearly, worry is a symptom of a greater problem of mankind’s inability to tap into the spiritual and psychological power latent within the psyche, which is the Holy Spirit and Comforter (Jn. 14:26). Modern man does not fully understand this.

What is the intent of this article?

It is the intent of this article to examine the principle of worry and its effects on the mind and body. It will also explore modern methods and ways that have been developed to combat worry.

Clearly, it is the power within man that will allow one to overcome worry. Modern science and the principles laid down within the Bible will be used to verify this.

How is worry defined?

As was stated in the introduction of this article, worry is defined as "a troubled state of mind, anxiety, uneasiness distress," according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. In reality, worry is a form of incessant FEAR, which makes it more psychological.

This incessant fear is not caused by some physical outside influence as the threat of a bear or a robber. This fear, real or imaginary, is embedded deep within the mind and never ceases.

In fearful physical situations, the "fight or flight syndrome" arouses the body and mind in the face of danger, but eventually subsidizes or goes away. In contrast worry in the mind never ceases.

Now there are extreme forms of worry that may become habitual and impede the functioning of the individual. This form of worry is diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It is much more than the normal anxiety people experience day to day. "It’s chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. Having this disorder means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Sometimes, though, the source of worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day provokes anxiety (Mental Health Net http://www.cmhc.com/disorders/sx24.htm)."

A psychiatrist Edward Hallowell M.D., wrote an article entitled "Why Worry?" in Psychology Today (Nov. 1997). He states the following about worry. "Worry is a special form of fear. It is what humans do with simple fear once it reaches the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. We make fear complex adding anticipation, memory, imagination and emotion (p. 36)."

He goes on to say that worry stems from vulnerability and powerlessness, as the result of situations such as simple shyness, depression, general anxiety disorder, distress over the actions of another, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are the effects of worry on the mind?

A worried mind is always preoccupied with fear for there is no end to worry. A mind in this state is totally inept, its power sapped, and all its potential paralyzed. It will eventually cause all types of psychological and physical disorders in the body if left untreated by some profession. Modern medicine and psychology have found out that worry not only effects the mind, but also the body in the most profound way.

For example, the biochemistry of the blood and the cells are effected by a worried state of mind. This is due to the mind-body connection for they operate as one. When the mind worries about a situation, the brain picks up these thoughts and produces an amalgamation of electrical and chemical reactions that effect the body in many ways. Many modern day illnesses plaguing man, such as anxiety and stress, can be traced to incessant forms of worry.

Worrying can even prevent one from sleeping. This happens because worry has troubled the thinking process and cannot be easily cut off. Insomniacs suffer from this problem. They cannot sleep because of incessant worry.

Researcher Borkovec and his colleagues’ study revealed that what kept insomniacs up was their "intrusive thoughts," according to Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence ( 1995 Bantam). Now Mr. Goleman goes to state: "They were chronic worriers, and could not stop worrying, no matter how sleepy they are (p. 66)." Let us look at the various components of worry.

What are the components of worry and how is it explained by the pattern?

Using the tabernacle pattern we understand that worry, as a principle is manifest on three levels: physical, psychological and spiritual (see illustration on this page). The biological component of worry is the physiological and biochemical activity in the physical body. The autonomic (involuntary) nervous system reacts to the brain activity and causes blood pressure to rise, pulse, heart and respiratory rate to increase.

On a psychological level, the brain reacts to worried thoughts in one’s mind about the situation. This is the result of one’s psychology conditioning.

Even though some people are more prone to worry due to their genetic makeup, their psychological conditioning has a great part to play in worrying, which will further be discussed in the visualization section below. Modern medicine only accepts the physical and psychological aspect of worry.

By leaving out the spiritual component of worry, modern medicine cannot fully understand the operation of the principle of worry. Yet they realize prayer and meditation, which are spiritual techniques, can arrest the situation. Many researchers have proved that prayer and meditation works.

What is the defense and treatment for worry?

Drugs, such as Valium, Beta-blockers, antidepressant and others, are the main treatment for chronic worriers. For very severe cases of worry these may be the only solution. Now the main problem with these drugs is their side effects.

Some of the more powerful drugs cannot be taken for extended periods of time without causing other problems in the body. Neither do drugs train the individual to cope with worry. Confronting worry involves a psychological and spiritual reconditioning.

This has caused many to turn to alternative forms of medicine such as meditation physical exercise, visualization, and prayer.

What are some visualization and meditation techniques?

When Borkovec’s and his colleagues were looking for a treatment for insomnia, they discovered a method that dealt with worry. They found the one thing that works for insomniacs was to get the person’s mind off the worries, as pointed out in Goleman’s book.

The person was able to relax by focusing on various sensations such as breathing, heart rate, etc. In short, shifting one’s attention away from worries can stop them. Basically this technique involves visualization and meditation, which has been used for thousands of years in eastern religion.

Goleman in his book points out that most worriers cannot shift their attention from their worries because they believe that there is something positive in worrying. They feel that worry can deal with potential threatening situations. Simply put, rehearsing a situation in the mind over and over makes them secure, but it does nothing to solve the problem.

New solutions to problems do not come from worrying. In fact, worrying can impede solutions. So if worry is allowed to constantly go around in a loop, there is very little hope stopping it. The bad part of the whole thing is that this sets up a habitual way of thinking.

Now Borkovec points out that the first thing that must be done with worry is self-awareness. This is catching the worry process before it starts. As soon as those thoughts of worry begin, one can apply visualization.

If relaxation and visualization techniques are not enough, then, there is a series of questions one has to ask oneself to combat this worry-anxiety cycle. Here are the Borkovec questions. Is it probable that the event will occur? Are there constructive steps to be taken? Does this problem have to run through this loop over and over? Are there other alternatives to the situation? Now these questions seem to slow down the worrying process and prevent the mind from being consumed by worry.

Is prayer a solution to worry?

Prayer is a solution to all problems including worry, but it requires faith in the Messiah. Yahshua taught His disciples to pray for something believing in their mind that they had it before they actually received it.

Clearly, the Messiah was teaching His disciples a form of visualization. He said unto them: "…, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mk. 11:22-24)."

So to overcome the problem of worry, one has to trust that Yahshua the Messiah has the power to work out all problems. This is implicit faith, for Yahshua said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt. 11:28-30)."

Conclusion

It is quite obvious that worry is a symptom of a society that lacks a spiritual connection and trust in the Creator. The problem would be solved immediately if one turned to the Spirit within.

Modern medicine has made remarkable progress with technological advances, but even they can see that the mind is suffering from a spiritual malady and has correctly diagnosed the problem. As changes in society accelerate, worrying is one of the problems that mankind must resolve if the civilization is to be maintained.

It has only been in the last 20 years that modern medicine has validated and accepted meditation and visualization therapy. These methods do offer some answer to the problem of worrying, but one has to keep in mind that worry is caused by a lack of trust in Spirit.                                                    

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