COUNSELING: Are You A Worrier?

By Robin F. Rishel, Ph.D., LPC

Be still and know that I am GOD. – Psalm 46:10

I was blessed to have been invited to join a prayer group in my neighborhood this past fall. A group of about 10 women meet twice per month to discuss issues occurring in our lives, such as raising children, being working moms, being stay-at-home moms, dealing with extended family during the holidays, as well as our marriages. We have been using biblical scripture to lead the way to feeling more joyful and competent in these areas of our lives that tend to be challenging. We also try to be supportive of each other and “real” in our struggles with trying to be good moms, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues. I have found it to be uplifting and actually a lot of fun!

Recently there was a discussion of worry and how to productively turn over our worries to God through prayer and faith. I would like to share with you scripture and quotations that I have found helpful. (Full disclosure: I am a chronic worrier!)

“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, or loving enough, to take care of what’s happening in our lives.” – Frances Chan

Are you able to turn over your worry to God through prayer and devotions? And what is worry, anyway? How is it different than anxiety? Here is a comparison that I found helpful:

Worry: This is the thought process that creates the feelings and emotions experienced as anxiety. Worrying can be useful in helping to find solutions to problems; however, worrying often centers on problems that cannot currently be solved. It has been described as preliving because we tend to worry about things in the future. Thinking can soon become very negative and doom laden. This worrisome thinking style can easily create the conditions that make a person feel anxious:

Helplessness – Insufficient information to handle the situation.
Over stimulation – Too much information, or information overload.
Incongruity – Conflicting information.
Unpredictability – Having an uncertain outcome.

Anxiety: It’s a bit like being on ‘yellow alert’; anxiety is about looking out for possible danger, and often centers on trying to find certainty in uncertain situations. It’s an attempt to stay safe – a survival tactic – by foreseeing and planning for every conceivable outcome; what if…

This worrying is often about the future, and because it’s too far away, the outcome cannot easily be determined. This leads to many unresolved ‘what ifs’, and a person seems to settle on the most catastrophic outcome, without factual basis for these conclusions. Subtle changes start to occur within the body, including:

Jumpiness and feeling on edge.
Heightened senses, looking out for danger.
Muscles tensed, just in case physical action is required.

This approach serves us well when faced with a real po­ten­tial threat. In cave­man times it was wise to assume the rust­ling in the bushes might be a hungry lion. If it turned out to be a gust of wind, nothing was lost. It is, however, less than helpful when trying to evaluate a future situation in the mind.

Forecasting disaster scenarios leads to feeling apprehensive and fearful. Although very un­likely to happen, a person starts to imagine what those disasters would be like. Remember, the mind cannot tell the difference between reality and a vividly imagined thought, so one may start to experience fear. This can become debilitating if it begins to interfere with everyday life.

If you experience worry on a fairly regular basis, try prayer and turning over your worries to God. In daily devotion, or in church, ask for what you need to seek peace. Living in the present moment and not the past or the future can also help in lessening the amount of worry. If worry or anxious feelings are interfering with your daily living, you may want to seek professional counseling at Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34

The portion describing worry and anxiety is from: