Not Worrying

Task 23

There are, of course, things that we should be concerned about. In those cases we need to use the energy that we might put into worry, to do something about the problem. We might find that we are fretting about something over which we have no control. In that case, we need to do spiritual work, since the worry, far from helping the situation, is putting us into a negative spiritual state.

The word “worry” is related to the word “wring” as in: “I will wring your neck.” It involves the idea of twisting. When we worry we might experience our stomach all twisted up in a knot. We might feel that we are being noble about taking on the problems of the world, but often it is really a form of self-indulgence. We might even take pride in obsessing with problems that are out of our control.

In one of Byron Katie’s books there is the story of a woman whose life was dominated by worry. It turned out to be concern for the plight of the polar bears due to climate change. It is an extreme case and is useful in highlighting the fact that it is possible for a person’s life to be distorted by worry of a very unhealthy kind. Byron pointed out that obsessing about something beyond her control was not helping the bears, and was hurting her.

The opposite of worry is trust – especially trust in God. Jesus talked about this suggesting that people take no thought for the morrow. Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34 KJV

Modern translations are truer to the Greek. Here are two of them:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. NIV

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.  RSV

It is interesting that Jesus tells us not to worry about the future. This is quite a challenge since much, if not most, of our concerns are about things that have not yet happened. It takes work to counter this human tendency. The reward for doing so is peace of mind.

If you find it hard to let go of the worry, see if you can do anything positive about the things you are worrying about, and put your energy there.

“With those who trust in the divine. These, although they have care for the morrow, still do not have it, because they do not think about the morrow with uneasiness, still less with anxiety. Their spirit is unruffled whether they get the things they want or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of them, being content with their lot. . . They know that for those who trust in the divine all things advance toward a happy state to eternity, and that whatever happens to them is still conducive to eternal happiness.” Swedenborg – Secrets of Heaven #8478

“Worry is a form of identifying. Literally, the word has the meaning of tearing and twisting, or chocking and strangling; it was originally connected with the word wring, which is still used in the expression wringing one’s hands. . . . Relaxing in general has behind it, esoterically speaking, the idea of preventing negative states. Negative states are less able to come when a person is in a state of relaxation. (Nicoll 136-138)

When you notice yourself worrying, let go of the body tensions produced by the worry. Relax. Then change the negative thinking that supports the worry. Let go of the worry.