(Inside: How to reduce worry.)
I looked down at my wounds.
Two lines of raw skin replaced where the strap to my fancy shoes had just adorned my feet. Every time I wear those sandals, my feet spend the next week recovering. Yet I still talk myself into that stylish pair BECAUSE MY OUTFIT WILL LOOK PERFECT WITH THEM. (Evil laugh from the knife-like straps on my sandals.)
Then that evening, I’m searching for my fleece lined socks with the same desperation a castaway spans the ocean for human life.
Fashion isn’t the only place in my life I learn the hard way – I repeat this pattern with worry.
For example, when I pull the covers over my feverish kid, I think:
“But what if he doesn’t heal?” (Stop worrying, he’ll be fine…) What if his fever lasts forever? (I can worry a little, I mean it’s normal…) Why does he have bruises on his leg? Did he have them before the illness? (I should keep pondering this so I’m prepared for all possible scenarios.) What if the bruises combined with the illness means he has leukemia?” (Let me google it.) Oh my gosh, he has leukemia. I’m. Positive.
Then my stomach twists, my brain fogs and as he’s shaking with a fever, worry’s hijacked my body and shut out hope. For days. (For both small and big issues.)
Can you relate?
Do your “what if” thoughts lead to:
Step 1: “But what if…”
Step 2: Start listing out possible bad things that can happen.
Step 3: Add more. (Just for fun.)
Step 4: Lose all rational thought.
(Nailed wallowing in worry’s pain and losing all hope.)
I don’t know what made me say enough. It wasn’t moving, my mom’s cancer, miscarriages or job loss; instead, it was an insignificant moment like someone didn’t text me back over nothing. My brain simple felt tired of the hamster wheel of worry. Worry dominated my mind and robbed me of happiness and hope.
Are you done too? Are you tired of your daily strength being hijacked by worry? What if we had a tool to significantly reduce our worry? What if we do what we normally do – rise to meet the challenge – but worry free? Do you want to join me in this?
Deciding we are done with worry is easy, retraining our brain is hard.
When we worry, it’s like having a ginormous crack spider webbing in all directions through our lives. Different actions heal different parts of the crack, until one day we take a step back and realize we feel mended. Today I’m giving you one suggestion to heal a part of that crack.
(Stay tuned for more healing ointments. I’m writing an eBook on shedding worry and I’m almost done! Sign up here and I’ll keep you in the loop. *And give you a monster discount.*)
Onto my strategy…but, hang with me because I’m going to explain why this works first.
My child’s doctor and I were discussing parenting. I’d described a difficult stretch and she firmly stated, “Your positive interactions with your child must outweigh your negative ones.” But that thought wasn’t concrete enough for me. Happy You Happy Family has a wonderful article on the How to Connect With Your Child: the Magic 5:1 Ratio with kids. It’s based on Dr. Gottman’s relationship research that found healthy marriages have five positive exchanges for every one negative exchange.
Sweet numbers. I can wrap my head around that.
If the magic 5:1 ratio can improve our relationships with our spouse and children, it can also improve our relationship with ourselves.
Science shows that for one negative thought – we need five life-giving thoughts; proof that God created us to walk closer to hope than toxic words. You guys, we can outsmart worry.
When we think “what if,” instead of letting our mind spiral down the rabbit hole, we can stop and entertain five positive thoughts.
But for me, it has to be truth, not fluff. Only substance can convince me to let go of worry. (My worry is stubborn!) The positive thoughts must move me towards hope. Truthful hope. Extravagant Hope.
These are God’s promises to us, messages repeated in different ways throughout the entirety of the Bible – real thoughts from God to you!
1. God is for us. Always.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
2. We can’t fully comprehend God – and that’s a good thing.
While we’re walking among the trees, God’s above looking at the whole forest.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV)
3. We don’t have to do anything to make God love us more.(Attention, perfectionists! Ahem – me!) The entirety of the gospel is based on a grace-filled love where God chooses us. We’ve asked Him to walk beside us, so be assured that He does with absolute adoration and love.
“May have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18, NIV)
4. God will get us where we need to be.
He writes his plans for us on our hearts through giving us talents, interests, and wisdom, but often the path to the goal is not what we envisioned.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:8-10, NIV)
5. God can coax good out of every hopeless situation.
(Notice there aren’t promises of a perfect, easy life – rather a rich, full one.)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I made a printable of these verses and placed them in my most visited spots: the mirror, the refrigerator, my purse, my car…
Let’s quit telling ourselves that pain from worry is normal. We don’t have to let worry tarnish our precious time here on earth with sweaty palms, a rapid heartbreak and a mind that just won’t let up. We don’t have to allow that pain into our lives.
I threw away my stylish shoes to remind myself, I don’t have to choose blisters on my feet. So, wearing comfortable shoes, I can walk away from worry by hitting every negative thought with five glorious promises.
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.