One Change That Will Make Your Day Worry-Free

There seems to be a lot of anxiety in North America today. I have no idea why! I haven’t been on the internet in the past couple of years. (I handwrite these blogs and mail them to my friend, who is good with computers.)

Worry is a mental and physical response to the feeling of helplessness. Worry makes you a bystander in your own life, because you’ve stressed and troubled by the perception you aren’t in control. 

Sometimes, the solution to worry is to assert yourself. Oftentimes, when I’m feeling nervous or anxious about something, I just determine to act the opposite of how my fears would direct me. It’s my big chance to be rebellious. If I’m upset about the future, I throw myself headfirst into it as a way of damning my fears.

But sometimes you really aren’t in control! 

Sometimes life is bigger than you. 

Until you acknowledge this, you’ll never be able to deal with your worries. You’ll only berate yourself for not rising above them. It is hard enough to conquer your fears when they’re irrational–it’s almost impossible to talk or think yourself out of them when they’re not. 

So is there anything you can do to turn off the voice of worry–at least just for one given day? 

Yes. I didn’t come up with it. I’m stealing it from a recovering alcoholic. 

You must not fight it. You must, instead, surrender.

Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed. They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking. In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them.
— Bill W., "Alcoholics Anonymous"

The problem isn’t that so many people outwardly struggle with addictions and compulsions. The problem of our age is that so many people are high-functioning addicts to worry and fear.

The only thing less helpful than fighting your despair is calling a truce with it. Emotions and thoughts get to invade your mind–but because you’ve never surrendered, you still get to pretend you have control. 

The reason why the worry is there in the first place is simple: your sense of control is an illusion. You and I are not the most powerful forces in our universe. The sooner we surrender to this idea, the better.

At first, this thought isn’t very hopeful. In fact, it’s downright depressing. The choice to embrace your own powerlessness only helps you after you acknowledge another power greater than your own.

The easy answer to a higher power is “God”, but that’s often far too superficial. This is where our worry becomes instructive: our fears show us what we really believe our higher power is. Are you afraid of the results from your latest check-up? Are you anxious about confronting your parents? Do you get stressed out because you don’t have enough money to cover your bills?

Do you see how your fears reveal your gods to you? 

Don’t just surrender to “God” in the abstract. That’s a quick way to become addicted to hypocrisy and smug superiority. Yeah, for a moment you won’t think you’re anxious–but you’ll inwardly tower over everyone else. If we surrender to our image of God out of religious determination, our fears mutate into judgement and condemnation over everything we cannot control.

But here’s the beautiful thing about powerlessness: you now have so many beautiful things to surrender to!

When you choose to surrender, at first it’s quite scary. But if you’re choosing to be powerless, so many other things can be a higher power than you are! How about a wonderful moment laughing with your children? Make that more powerful than you are today! What about the kind, affirming words of a friend? You should elevate their encouragement to a proclamation from On High. 

Choose to acknowledge you aren’t in control, and things are bigger than you, and life is scary in some ways. Stop inflating the ego of your own self-importance. And stop condemning yourself for not being able to live up to your own standards! 

If you surrender to something–or someone–else, your worries will quietly slip away–like white mothers at a Kanye West concert. You’ll probably have to confront them later, so you might as well get in the habit of surrendering daily. It’s the bravest way to face your fears.

Whatever you do, don’t settle for a life of anxiety. No matter what happens at the end of today.