3 Toxic Effects of Worry and the Antidote
- Aaron D'Anthony Brown Contributing Author
- 2020 5 Nov
How can something so natural as worry be so poor for our spiritual, emotional, and physical health?
There’s plenty of scientific evidence pointing to the detrimental effects of worrying. I know firsthand the effects of excessive worrying. In February of 2019, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was 24.
Though I received the diagnosis as adult, the problem of fear was something I had since childhood. Only as an adult, with years of fear already built in, did I realize, Wow, I need to do something about this.
The Bible talks about worry in a number of different passages. Each time, worrying is presented as bad. And not something God wants us to feel.
Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up. – Proverbs 12:25
Have your thoughts ever led you to feel tossed around? Mine have. Anxiety, worry, fear. No matter what name you use, they are all a part of the same beast. And this beast has a very a long tail.
If you’re not convinced worry is so bad, or you’re trying to get a better handle on your thought life, keep reading.
Here are three reasons why worry is so toxic.
1. You Lose Sight of God
Casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:7
God cares about me? If God cared, then why do I have so much to worry about?
That is how I used to think as I struggled with finances, relationships, and school. Sometimes, I mistook the life of a believer to be a life lived in perfect peace, devoid of any kind of suffering.
Not only did Jesus foretell us about trouble in the world, but the Bible presents the solution in God. We are to cast the things that trouble us onto him because he cares.
If only we could wrap and package our problems and ship them far, far away.
While that may not be an option, praying to God and talking to him about what troubles us is an option.
When I am lost in my worries I forget this though. I forget God cares and that praying is available to me. We are told so much about how God is omnipotent, so he not only knows what we are going through, but knows the solution. Why let me suffer?
Has this question ever occurred to you?
That’s no trick question, either. Because again, the Bible presents an answer to that, too, in Romans 5:3. Suffering in life is not optional. The worry, however, is very much optional.
Then there is a new question: do I want to suffer while praying to God, knowing that he cares? Or do I want to suffer thinking to myself that God does not care about my plight?
One of those will make this race we call life much easier.
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2. You Tend to Think Negatively Of People
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29
A former girlfriend of mine told me that when I was anxious I would treat her like my “enemy.” If I lose sight of God in my anxious thinking, the all-knowing and loving God, then I was bound to lose the correct perspective of people too, the flawed sinners they are.
There came a time when I realized that because of my anxious thinking I lacked trust in people and treated them accordingly. I expressed to that girlfriend that I didn’t trust her. I told a friend that I didn’t feel like they loved me. I explained to my father he didn’t truly support me.
These were not signs of love. They were signs of fear.
Relationships can become damaged by fear, and lead us to say or perform actions that bring people down instead of building them up.
Without the correct perspective of people, healthy relationships are rendered impossible.
3. You Lack Self-Worth
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. – Proverbs 29:25
If God isn’t for me and people are against me, then what point is there in fighting anymore?
This type of thinking can lead to depression, loneliness, and suicidal ideations.
Fear traps us in our own mind—that is to say a fantasy—and prevents us from seeing reality. When we begin to believe that no one is in support of us, especially during hard times, we may find ourselves giving into despair.
This verse of Scripture refers to fear as a snare, a trap for catching an animal. Fear captures ourselves.
We don’t have to see ourselves as unworthy when God has blessed us with himself and people to support us during troubling times. We don’t have to let fear win.
Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock
The Worry Antidote
As with the repeat mentioning of worry, another idea is repeated in the Bible. An alternative to worry is presented—putting our trust in God. People often say the opposite of addiction is connection. I believe the opposite of fear is trust.
One truth that God has spoken into my life, that I want to share with you is located in the Book of Matthew.
Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? – Matthew 6:26-27
Consider what Jesus is literally saying. The birds outside, the squirrels, the chipmunks, the bugs, every day are searching for food. Some of them store food, some don’t. None of them live lives as convenient as humans. Yet, God provides for them.
He provides for them daily. Maybe you should say that aloud for yourself.
Next time you are tempted to worry, don’t just remind yourself of all the negative impacts of worry. Remind yourself of the good God does for the animals, the people around you, and all the good he has already done in your life.
Chances are, if you can focus on the positive, that fear will have less weight.
Part of my morning routine is to read a daily affirmation to myself in addition to three Scripture verses. Instead of the constant swirl of anxious thoughts, I have God’s word in my head to counteract the negativity.
You can find your own positive habits. There’s no time like the present to kick those worrisome habits to the curb and start listening to what Jesus has reminded us—do not be afraid.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/m-imagephotography
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”