Saturday, October 8, 2011

Letting Go of Worry: God's Plan for Finding Peace and Contentment by Linda Mintle

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Letting Go of Worry: God's Plan for Finding Peace and Contentment

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James | Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Linda Mintle is a national speaker and bestselling author of more than 15 books, including I Love My Mother, But…and I Married You, Not Your Family. She appears regularly on several national television and radio shows and is a network news contributor. She also hosts her own website. In her general clinical practice, she specializes in marriage and family therapy, eating disorders, and infertility. A licensed clinical social worker, she holds a PhD in urban health and clinical psychology. She and her family live in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Dr. Linda Mintle confesses that for years she believed worry was an inevitable byproduct of our modern, busy lives. But as she explored God’s Word for guidance, she discovered that worry isn’t supposed to be managed. It’s supposed to be released completely.

Through personal and biblical examples, Mintle reveals reasons and ways for readers to rethink their core beliefs as they surrender worry to God and discover:

· the spiritual roots of worry
· what to do when anxious thoughts arise
· how to have peace about their health, job, money, and relationships
· practical ways to cultivate a truly worry-free life
· the biblical secret to lasting contentment

With godly instruction, Scriptures for meditation, and the hope of a renewed perspective, readers can let go of worry and embrace a transformed life of peace, forgiveness, and faith.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930582
ISBN-13: 978-0736930581

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Everyone Worries, Don’t They?

There is a great difference between worry
and concern.  A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.

Harold Stephens



Everyone worries, don’t they? Maybe, but that does not mean it is good for us! At the risk of sounding like a mom, I’ll say that just because everyone is doing it, does not mean we should. To believe worry happens and it cannot be stopped or controlled is wrong thinking! Our physical, emotional and spiritual health depends on dealing with worry the proper way.

You see, worry feeds on itself. It devours the soul and makes life miserable. It wastes a great deal of time and effort that could be applied elsewhere. Worry takes us down a negative path that typically ends in anxiety and distress, a path most of us want to avoid. And while we cannot change the facts associated with our worry, we can change our decision to worry. Worry invades our thoughts, but we decide if we will focus on it.

So the question is, is worry something we accept as a given and try to manage, or is it something from which we can be free? The answer is yes. Yes, we can learn to manage our worries. We can schedule a worry time each day, write down our worried thoughts, and do much more to manage it. Any therapist will tell you that worry can be managed. That is our job. We have an arsenal of tools that includes medications and behavioral strategies to help manage it. But is this the best we can do?

A better goal is to rid our lives of worry and learn to cultivate a life of peace and contentment. Personally, I am opting for a worry-free life, one that allows me to break away from the worry habit. Managing worry is too time-consuming and depressing. I have done it many times in my life. But from my faith perspective, managing worry is like managing adultery—both are just plain wrong and need to be stopped.

Like any habit, worry can be broken. To do so will take patience, intention, and understanding. We must pay attention to our bodies, examine our thinking, and look closely at our feelings. This means challenging the notion that worry simply happens and there is nothing we can do about it. There is much we can do about it, which is the focus of this book.

One of the reasons we hang on to worry is because it is easy to do. Worry helps us avoid the reality of the moment. It pulls our attention to an illusory world and allows us to disconnect for a short time. Although we may not be aware of it, a purpose is served when we worry. This is why it is so attractive.

In addition, most of us are good at worry. We have had many opportunities to practice. Worry has become a normal way of operating in our day-to-day living. It is like drinking our morning coffee, a habit we perform regularly without giving it much thought.

So here is the deal—you can worry and try to manage it, or you can choose to eliminate it from your life. The choice is yours. This book will focus on letting go of worry, not managing it. It will look at worry holistically and give you exercises at the end of each chapter to help you release it.

In order to say goodbye to worry, we begin by understanding the not-so-obvious but important difference between concern and worry. It is fine to be concerned about any number of issues, but not so fine to worry about them. Concern and worry are different.


What is worry?

The word worry is related to the ancient German word wurgen, meaning “to strangle.” Now there is a pleasant thought. Any word that has such a negative root cannot be good for us! Worry strangles the life out of us! It certainly feels that way when we worry. Worry is defined as “something or someone that causes anxiety; a source of unhappiness.” It includes both how we feel and think.

The word’s meaning has changed a bit through the centuries. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines worry as “to disturb, to tease, to harass, to weary.” Today’s Webster says to worry means to harass, to annoy, or to bother. As a noun, worry refers to a state of mind; anxiety; distress; care; uneasiness. In other words, worry involves a state of mind and engages our mental process, leading to anxious feelings or an anxious state.

Thus, worry is a way to think, a mental habit. And this mental habit leads to feeling anxious. The focus of worry is typically future events where there is uncertainty about the outcome. To the worrier, the future is perceived as potentially negative, which creates feelings of anxiety.

Based on these definitions, are you beginning to see that worry is not associated with good things? Strangling, distress, disturbance, anxiety—not exactly the words we want to describe our behavior or thoughts! And certainly not words we associate with peace and calm.

Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my…

In the famous movie The Wizard of Oz, our heroine, Dorothy, cautiously proceeds down the yellow brick road searching for the Wizard, unsure of what she might encounter. Word is that lions, tigers and bears lurk in the dark of the forest, waiting to pounce on Dorothy and her companions. Concerned, Dorothy asks, “Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals?” The Scarecrow answers, “Mm, we might. Animals that eat straw?” The Tin Woodman replies, “Some, but mostly lions, and tigers, and bears.”

Dorothy, a stranger to the land, has no way of knowing how real or unreal the threat of attack is. She responds with her now famous “Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my…” Was that an “oh my…” of concern or worry? What is the difference between being concerned versus worried?

Both concern and worry involve thinking, taking energy to focus on important issues. Yet they are distinctly different. Concern is normal and natural. In her travels, Dorothy does not know what to expect and is asking questions. She is in a strange land and making a long journey to an unknown destination. What might be on the road ahead?

Worry, on the other hand, is destructive, unhealthy, and misplaced. Worried thoughts focus on negativity and the what- ifs in life. Whereas concern moves us forward, worry keeps us stuck. Worry is the Scarecrow paralyzed by fear. He does not want to move on down the road—what if the animals eat straw?

Concern involves caring and meeting a need. Concern is the Tin Woodman reassuring the Scarecrow that while there might be wild animals that eat straw, it is unlikely, and there is a bigger goal—finding the Wizard. In other words, Scarecrow, it is not all about you and the slight possibility of being eaten. Stop looking for trouble and start thinking about finding the Wizard!

Concern comes out of a maturity and growth. It involves the ability to see reality, feel empathy or compassion, and care about others. Concern says, we are in the forest, let’s take precautions but not lose our cool. Keep moving down the yellow brick road and solve problems when and if they materialize. Dorothy gets it, and she mobilizes the group to action.

Worry, on the other hand, is pointless and immobilizing. It circles the same problem with no real solution or control over what is happening. Most often it leads to anxiety.

In fact, worry causes more problems. It distracts from the goal, gets in the way of our destination, disrupts our plans, and creates havoc along the way. But concern prompts action that is in our control and works to solve the problem. It allows us to focus on a problem with the intent to do something about it.

Consider these comparisons between worry and concern. They will help you examine your thoughts and feelings:

WORRY CONCERN

Circles the problem Solves the problem

Brings inaction Brings action

Feels out of control Takes control where possible

Distracts from the problem Focuses on the problem

Disrupts a plan Puts forth a plan


Concern is normal—worry needs to be eliminated

Once we understand the difference between concern and worry, it is freeing. It is normal to be concerned about life, people, and circumstances. We care about others and plan for the future. However, what we do with normal concerns is important. The temptation is to allow them to become times of worry. This example illustrates the difference between someone who is genuinely concerned and someone who is worried.

When Bill lost his job, he felt terrible. There were bills to pay and mouths to feed. Without an income, there would soon be a problem for his family. Instead of worrying about what could happen if he failed to find employment, Bill immediately applied for new positions. He updated his resume, worked his contacts, and stayed active and positive looking for a new job. His appropriate concern over losing his job spurred him on. He realized the consequences and took action. And that is what concern does—gets us to focus on the here and now and not be distracted by the negatives of a situation. Concern also helps us plan and move forward. It does not disrupt our plans or keep us stuck.

A worried Bill would have acted differently. Worried Bill would have been up all night, rehearsing the possibilities of debt while feeling paralyzed by fear. Mentally, he would be thinking about what he could have done to avoid losing his job. While this might have been productive if it had changed his behavior for future employment and brought clarity to his job loss, all worried Bill does is focus on those things he cannot control—the terrible job market, his age and ability to compete with younger colleagues, finding a salary commensurate with his experience, and so on. Panic sets in, and worried Bill believes there is too much working against him. He is immobilized by worry—stuck. Anxiety overtakes him, and he makes no moves forward.

When you are concerned, you live in the moment but do not ignore the realities of life. You see problems and challenges but keep moving forward. When you worry, you also see problems and challenges but get stuck in them. There is no moving forward.

Concern does not need to become worry

So if our goal is to say goodbye to worry, how do we stop concern from morphing into worry? Is there a line between them? I believe so. And we must recognize when we have crossed that line.

To give an example, let’s say you had a fight and your spouse threatened divorce (this is a no-no in marital fighting!). The fight was heated, but you eventually worked through it. Apologies were made. Your spouse insisted he did not mean the divorce comment. The heat of the moment led him to say hurtful things.

The next week, another conflict arises and, for a moment, you recall the last fight: “Maybe he does want a divorce…” But you do not dwell on that thought and decide to deal with the present conflict. Once again, the two of you work through the conflict. Nothing about divorce was mentioned this second time. But then you revisit the thoughts you had a fight ago: “Maybe he was thinking about divorce and did not say it. He probably wants out of the marriage. What else is he not telling me?”

Your thoughts have now moved from normal concern to worry. Your “mind-reading” is causing you to feel distressed and think your relationship is in trouble. Rather than ask about that past comment, you fret over what could be real or unreal. The mental gymnastics of worry begin!

Something negative from the past is not a problem as long as you do not dwell on it and assume it will repeat. Worry is created when negative thinking sticks around long after the fact.

So in the example above, there was concern about the divorce comment, but that comment was over and done, a thing of the past. However, resurrecting the negative thought brought worry to the relationship.

Now, if you were bothered by the potential meaning of the divorce comment (was it careless, intended, a way to provoke, or something else?), then the proactive strategy would be to ask your spouse if he meant what he said, because it was hurtful and raised doubt in your mind. This is an action step and a way for you to take control over those potentially worrisome thoughts. With no move to action, the comment can take on a life of its own and turn to worry.

When we take apart the above example, we notice two things:

Something from the past was revisited and resurrected.
The negative was assumed, and the person operated in doubt instead of clarifying the comment (a problem-solving skill).
Concern moved to worry through revisiting the past and assuming the negative.

Here is another example. Jennifer noticed she was gaining weight. Her pants felt tight and she was eating when bored. Jennifer was concerned about the weight gain so she decided to make a behavioral change. When she felt bored, she worked crossword puzzles instead of eating. This activity distracted her. Concern about weight gain moved her to action and pushed her to make a plan and take control over an area of her behavior that felt out of control.

Jennifer could easily have moved her concern to worry. Here is how. She could focus her thoughts on how difficult it is to lose weight. After all, she has failed many diets and gained weight in the past. She could obsess on past dieting failures and also on how difficult it will be to break the current habit of eating when bored. What if she fails again? What is she does not lose weight? She will not be able to fit in her clothes. Her pants are already tight. This is depressing. Anxiety rises and she feels hopeless about doing anything. There is no moving forward because she is stuck in anxiety.

Basically, Jennifer is now circling the problem, becoming immobilized and doing no problem-solving. She allows distress to distract her from planning any helpful strategies. Her focus on past failures feeds worry.

Can we be concerned about events, issues, and people in our lives? Absolutely. Can we cry out to God about our concerns and feel deeply emotional? Certainly. King David did so regularly, as documented in the Psalms. Concern and catharsis are not worry. Worry goes beyond concern and catharsis and leads to a host of problems. In a word, worry looks backward and revisits failure and looks forward and assumes the worse.

Fear, a close relative to worry

Worry is often associated with fear. As with worry and concern, there is a difference between worry and fear. Consider this. If we are swimming in the warm Gulf waters and someone yells, “Shark!” fear is our natural response. Fear is a warning system built into our bodies as a natural reaction to danger. The danger is specific, timely, comes and goes quickly, and sharpens our senses. It is healthy to feel fear in the midst of a shark sighting. Fear acts like an alarm and often prompts us to action—in this case, swim as fast as you can and get out of the water!

Worry deals with what might happen and is a type of manufactured fear. So, for example, worry is when we again take a swim in the Gulf. There is no shark danger this time, but we worry that there could be. The entire time we swim, we feel anxious, thinking something bad could happen even though there is no evidence of it.

In this case, worry develops by thinking that danger could be hiding in those waters. In other words, worry takes fear and adds what if…to our thinking. Our thoughts move from the present reality to the possibility of danger. Although there is no present danger, we act and think as if there is. Worry remembers a time when a shark sighting happened and assumes it could happen right now. This resurrects fear.

Fear is often at the heart of worry. It motivates us to begin the what if cycle of worry. What if a shark is hiding? What if I get caught in the water? What if I cannot swim fast enough? What if no one sees me in trouble? And so on. Worry takes a real threat or a perceived danger (fear) and turns it into a way to focus on the uncertainty of the future: You could get hit by a car, struck by lightning, lose your money in the stock market, and so on ad infinitum. While fear can be traced back to a specific event or experience, worry is vague and ill defined.

In an article for Psychology Today, psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell, a former Harvard professor, described worry as “a special form of fear.” He explained that simple fear becomes more complex once we add anticipation, memory, imagination, and emotion to the mix. This “special form of fear” consumes both time and energy and threatens our mental and physical health. He was right. When you break down worry, fear is usually behind the scene. And that fear can translate to worry when we allow our thinking, emotions, and imagination to take us there.

Worry and anxiety

You may also think that worry is not all that different from anxiety. I believe there is a difference, but it is a matter of degree and complexity. Anxiety has physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral components to it. When we are anxious, our heart races, palms sweat, blood pressure rises, and pupils dilate. Mentally, anxiety involves negative self-talk and negative automatic thoughts. Behaviorally, anxiety causes us to avoid or escape situations.

Worry could be thought of as the mental part of anxiety. It is a type of negative self-talk that promotes negative possibilities. It goes beyond normal thoughts of danger and threat and becomes a form of self-harassment that keeps us stuck and distressed.

Worry triggers anxiety arousal in the body. And when this arousal remains for a period of time, it can result in health problems, procrastination, relationship stress, and more. Like fear, chronic anxiety creates stress on the body and can get in the way of everyday living. On top of that, it steals our joy.

If unchecked, worry can lead to a host of anxiety-related disorders. When it becomes a way of life and involves multiple areas of living, it can develop into a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Health anxiety, or hypochondria, develops when benign body signs are interpreted as potential illness. Worry that takes the form of self-criticism, guilt, feelings of incompetence and helplessness, or pessimism can lead to depression disorders. Obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive behavior that is intrusive and frightening are what characterizes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Panic is felt when worry involves a loss of control and fear. After a trauma, worry about more danger and flashbacks of the trauma can develop into posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Worry about embarrassment and social performance can intensify to a point of developing social anxiety or a social phobia. Finally, fear regarding an object or thing can turn in to a specific phobia like being afraid of dogs, spiders, or heights.


Here is the challenge. Understand that your body reacts to normal situations of fear and anxiety, but do not allow fear or anxiety to linger, like a dysfunctional friend. Become aware of worried thoughts before they become a chronic problem that is fear-based or anxiety-producing. Know the difference between worry and concern, between fear and anxiety. Do not allow worry to lead you to a state of anxiety and fear. The rest of this book will help you to achieve these aims.


Worry-Free Exercise

Body:

Check for physical tension. Do you have any of the physical signs of anxiety such as a racing or pounding heart, sweaty palms, difficulty breathing, stomach upset, frequent urination, diarrhea, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, or insomnia? Be aware of your body and the physical sensations that creep in with stress, anxiety, fear, and worry.

Soul:

List your concerns—those things that bother you and could potentially become areas of worry. Using the table on page 21 (the differences between worry and concern), go through each concern and determine:

Is this a concern, or has it turned into a worry?
Is this concern something that is in or out of my
control?
If it is in my control, what am I doing about it?
If it is not in my control, can I allow it to be that way without worrying?

Your goal is to empty this list by the end of the book.


Spirit:

Take your concerns to God. Meditate on Deuteronomy 31:8:

The Lord himself goes before you
and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Note: If you feel you have excessive worry or worry to the point that it interferes with your everyday living, consider seeing a mental-health therapist trained in treating anxiety disorders. An evaluation can help determine if your worry has become anxiety. Anxiety disorders are treatable. There is help.

7 comments:

Martha A. said...

Scheduled to post!

Chin Chin @ Stay at Home Blessings said...

I did not request the book but would like to share it in my blog.

Nise' said...

Scheduled to post.

Linda @ Linda's Lunacy said...

Scheduled to post.

Wyn said...

posted, I did not order this book

Briana said...

Posted!

Sunflower Faith said...

Review and tour posted