Thursday, May 29, 2008

Break Your Worry Habit

by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Worry is a mental habit taken on from others. You were not born with it, you acquired it. Because you can change any habit, you can cast out worry from your mind. Worry wastes energy. The time to stop worrying is today.  So, practice the following formula and give your personal worries the greatest blow they ever received.

1. Know that worry is a habit; you have practiced worrying for so long it has become a mind-set.

2. Worry is man's greatest plague. People say "I'm sick from worry" and then laughingly add, "not really sick, of course." But they can be, and often are, actually ill from worry.

3. Worries fall into three categories (according to a study of case histories by a group of physicians who established worry as the greatest cause of illness), 40% of your worries are about the past; 50% about the future; 10% about present matters.

4. To be rid of past mistakes, practice the art of forgetting, never look back. Every morning and every evening, repeat one of the greatest aids to mental health: "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press forward" (Philippians 3:13-14, paraphrased). Repeat that now three times, slowly.

5. Meditate on a wise statement by William James, the great psychologist: "The essence of genius is to know what to overlook."

6. Affirm faith in the future. Remind yourself that despite all the troubles and difficulties that are with us, God is also with us.  He is not likely to depart from anyone who trusts Him.

7. Practice the art of imperturbability. Whatever the stress, affirm, "God is keeping me calm and peaceful." Worry rolls off the imperturbable mind like water off a duck's back.

8. Empty your mind by saying, "I am now emptying my mind of all anxiety, fear, insecurity." Imaginatively do this now. Think of yourself as reaching into your mind and one by one removing the worries. A child has an imaginative skill beyond that of adults. A hurt can be kissed away.  It works because he believes that is the end of it and so it proves to be.  Jesus says for you to become "as a little child."

9. Fill your mind. Say, "God is now filling my mind with peace, with courage and with calm assurance."

10. Practice God's presence, saying, "God is with me now. God is my constant companion. God will never leave me." The practice of the presence of God, the companionship of Christ is a shield against worry. Would you worry if He were actually with you? There is no if about it. He said He would be, and so He is.

The above article is an excerpt from the Peale Center for Christian Living's booklet, "How to Break the Worry Habit". 

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