I came across some statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health concerning fear and worry. After reading the findings, I find myself fearing that people worry too much or, worrying that people fear too much.
The study by the NIMH indicates that:
• 60% of fears are over things that will never happen.
• 30% of fears are focused on things that happened in the past
• 90 % of fears are somewhat insignificant
• 88% are health-related fears (hypochondriacs)
The Anxiety and Depression Society of America has stated that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Uncontrolled worry can have a debilitating effect on a person’s appetite, relationships, job performance, and sleep.
Please pay attention to this: Whatever gets your attention gets you. The content of your thoughts determine the contentment of your life.
As you read this you might say: “You’re crazy! You don’t know what’s happening in my life!” Statements like this are externally focused. While it’s true there are times when we have no control over the externals of life, we do control the internals.
A key means of controlling the internals is to be introspective with a proper perspective. This is a technique that is at least as old as the Apostle Paul, who said: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”
It takes discipline and practice to make this a habit. This is because many people are born with a negative bias in the way they see life. Research indicates that the brain is more likely to focus on negative feelings instead of positive feelings.
The brain’s focus on negative feelings has been called the FUD Factor (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). When our thoughts are left unattended they wander into the wilderness of negativity and stumble into the cesspool of distress.
This is one reason Paul said that we need to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Some thoughts can be wonderfully captivating; however, others are so powerful in their negativity a person becomes a prisoner of his own mind.
How aware are you of the hundreds of mental-messages that flash through your mind each day? Is your self-talk wholesome conversation that builds your self-esteem and glorifies God? When you begin to recognize the pattern of your thoughts, you’ve taken the first step into the transformation that renews your mind (Romans 12:2).