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EBS8: How To Overcome Fear and WorrY

Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #8

Delivered by Eric Butterworth on May 6, 1975

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Worry is an amazing preoccupation. It is a concentration of the mind on experiences and relationships from the most pessimistic point of view. Some persons become highly skilled in the art of worrying. As a matter of fact, if they would pray with the same intensity with which they worry, they would enjoy “answer without ceasing”. If a person would meditate on the omnipresence of God, the good, with the same single-mindedness that he does on the possibilities of failure, loss, or sickness, life for him would become a veritable heaven.

Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it will not get you anywhere. Worrying is stewing without doing. It is mountain climbing over molehills.

The Bible talks much about overcoming fear and worry. The words “fear not” appear frequently: “I sought Jehovah, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” And Jesus said, “Be not anxious...your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” Somehow, this feature of religion has been omitted. Much that passes for religion these days is even based on fear.

Research has shown that man can definitely contract diseases, even those of an organic nature, by fear and worry. When we review the advertising material disseminated by the various associations and societies organized to eliminate major illnesses and diseases, we find an interesting and even frightening paradox. While attempting to graphically warn people of the symptoms of such inharmonies, this material may, in fact, be spreading disease by mental suggestion.

Modern medical research is finding that all disease and deterioration are caused by stress which blocks the flow of the natural force of life in man. The most startling discovery of modern times is the extent to which stress is caused by the emotions. This means that the ills of man, even those that are completely organic in nature, fundamentally are emotionally induced...and the emotions of fear and worry are among the most stress-producing factors.

One man recently said, “But if I don’t worry, who will work out my problems for me? I don’t see how a man can get along without worry these days.” He said this from a mental hospital to which he was confined, the victim of his own anxiety—proving that neither could he get along with his worry.

Worry is not automatic. Though we may have conditioned ourselves to meet experiences this way, it is not a reflex. We may have become addicted to worry in the same way that many people become addicted to alcohol or cigarettes or coffee. We may be so conditioned to the stimulant of worry and fear that it is difficult to go through an experience without indulging. But no one makes us worry...we worry because, by choice or by habit, we have decided that to do so is the way we are going to meet our pressing problems.

A businessman has on his desk an interesting gadget that offers an effective worry-preventing technique. It is a large symbolic figure of an old-fashioned doorbell on which is inscribed, “The Worry Button.” He uses it for a paperweight so it is always on the top of his desk in clear sight. When a particularly disturbing problem arises, he glances at the button and reminds himself that worry and fear and tension are acts of volition. This puts him in the position of seeing clearly that if he is going to get upset and worried, he has to make the choice to push the Worry Button.

This businessman says it becomes obvious how foolish worry is, and how ridiculous one would appear if he reaches over and pushes the button that is going to sap his strength, poison his system, disturb and confuse his mind, make him indecisive and ineffective, and prevent him from doing his best. He says that most of us slip all too easily into the tensions of worry, simply because we lose sight of the fact that there is an act of will involved, that we can say “no” to the temptation of worry.

Do not let yourself fall into the trap of excusing the tendency to fear and worry on the grounds of heredity, education, environment, or circumstances. You may have been a worrier for many years, you may have been driven and torn many times by worry and fear. But you can change. If you will only accept the Truth that you do not really have to be afraid or to worry, that you do so by choice and habit, this alone will be a giant step forward.

Worry indicates a lack of focus or perspective in our lives. It means that we are concentrating on what we do not have instead of what we do have. We are thinking of our weaknesses instead of our strengths. We are looking at the hole instead of the donut. There may be precarious situations in your life, but there is so much more in your life that is secure. You can find that which is less than good in all people, but you can find so much more that is good and lovable.

The fearmongers of our day would keep us in a constant state of tension concerning the possibility of natural disaster or atomic holocaust. “These are the dark days!” they constantly moan. The fact is that people have been saying this continually for generations...even for centuries. In fact the prophets of ancient Israel were saying it nearly three thousand years ago. If truly the sword of Damocles hands over our heads, then the hair by which it is suspended is of sturdier stuff than we imagine.

There is no point in minimizing the fact that it takes self-discipline to erase fear and worry. But since when were we not supposed to be disciplined?

Most of us are too easy on ourselves. We indulge our fears and worries like spoiled children. We need occasionally to have a stern talk with ourselves—look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Look here, there will be no more of this indulging in the whims of fear. You are God’s child, and it is high time you started acting like one.”

The first step is to get in tune with the Infinite...before you take stock of a disappointing situation and decide that it is hopeless, before you decide that there is too little time, not enough money, or that you are too young, or too old or too close to retirement. Fear and worry are not only unlikely in this consciousness, they are in fact impossible.

The unfailing antidote for fear and worry is prayer. Paul spelled it out in unmistakable terms: “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God.” In other words, don’t worry about a problem...pray about it! In the aftermath of worry is depletion; in the aftermath of prayer is inspiration and strength.

© 1975, by Eric Butterworth

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