Shirzad Chamine wrote a book called Positive Intelligence. He posits the theory that we all have inner saboteurs, inner automatic negative thoughts that wreck our inner peace and shape our worldview. He says that we all have a Judge- an inner critic that judges everything- ourselves, other people- situations, everything. Chamine notes that there are nine more little mind gremlins. You can take his assessment online.
I love his codification because it systematizes this thing that we ALL do in one shape or another. One of the saboteurs is hyper-vigilance. The idea is that by watching and worrying that you can affect or protect yourself from the vagaries of life. Honestly, though, can anyone predict the future? Can you prepare for a calamity? Isn’t a calamity, by definition, something that you didn’t foresee? Worrying about the future doesn’t change the future. It simply wrecks the present.
My friend Steve says that worry is a negative form of prayer. That makes so much sense to me. Prayers are those things that you silently repeat over and over, right? You can be intentional about prayer or not. Some religious people pray on their knees, some prostrate themselves and face Mecca, some fold their arms and pray to Heavenly Father. The unintentional prayers are those of worry.
Andy Stanley says that fear turns us into fortune-tellers. Fear and worry compel our imaginations into the worst possible scenario. Does it help your peace of mind to visualize the worst possible scenario? Or would it be more productive to imagine the best possible outcome? Or even better, what happens if you truly stayed in the present moment and trusted that something bigger and more benevolent than you were in control. It’s a choice, friends. You can choose fear, or you can choose love. You can choose to use your magical imagination for good or for evil. I’m just kidding. Worrying isn’t evil, but it certainly isn’t helpful.
The next time you feel the worry clamping down around your stomach and clenching your heart. Take a breath. Feel the breath go deep into your lungs and say to yourself. “I trust in an infinite God rather than my finite self.” See what happens. Notice if your body starts to relax.
Jesus tells us that in this world, we will have trouble. It was a “WILL,” not an “IF,” which means that life is going to toss us some screwballs that we aren’t going to be ready for. It’s ok. Being ill-prepared for when the surprises come doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us ordinary people. Let’s relax, take it easy. Practice mindfully staying in each moment. Only then can we match the calamities of life with the serenity of mind.
Just for Today
When I find myself worrying, I’ll breathe and try to bring myself into this moment.
Help me to trust in you and stop trying to be you. Show me what actions I need to take and direct my thinking to be happy and free from selfishness and fear.