1. Although we love to be certain about things, we must learn to accept and live with uncertainty.
2. People who worry have unhelpful positive beliefs about worry (see the golden worry beliefs), and unhelpful beliefs about certainty. They maintain worry by setting such high standards for certainty that they are quite unachievable. These include:
Being uncertain is an unpleasant experience
You should act only when you are absolutely certain.
Better safe than sorry
I can’t be safe when I’m not sure
If I am sure, then I can predict bad things and so prevent them.
3. These beliefs about certainty create a desire to control any uncertainty, creating more worry when they can’t, and so on.
4. Present contemplation is the gold-standard technique for overcoming worry. Two lesser techniques that will train us for that are “thought records: and “making new appraisals.”
5. “Thought records” help us to recognize the irrationality of worry thoughts and the link between thoughts and feelings. An example of a “thought record” can be seen here. The general format is:
Situation: The moment when you had a worry thought.
Mood: Your feelings in response to your worry thought (rate intensity out of 10)
Automatic thoughts (and images): The thoughts that result from your worry.
Evidence for: The evidence that supports the likelihood of your worry coming true.
Evidence against: Evidence that opposes your worry thought.
Alternative thought: Review original worry in light of the evidence.
Review and plan: Re-read your original worry and review your mood/feelings (rate intensity out of 10)
Thought records can really help us familiarize ourselves with worry and help us see that most of our worries are poorly founded.
6. “Making new appraisals.” This is a less controlled version of thought records that operates in our thoughts not on paper. It involves the assumption that we are overestimating our worries and starts to consider a range of more probably alternative outcomes and conclusions. We look at our predicament from different angles and produce alternative conclusions.
7. Unhelpful techniques for worry include:
Trying to get more information. Looking up stuff on the internet usually increases worry and keeps you on the “I-must-be-in-control” treadmill.
Journaling. Unless you keep it to a couple of paragraphs a day, this can set your mind racing when you are trying to sleep.
Phoning a friend. This is often a way of avoiding responsibility for decisions and only produces short-term reassurance.
Alcohol. And any other addiction like shopping, eating, self-harm.
8. Experiment with losing control. Try a mini-experiment by not trying to control what you usually demand control over. Before doing it, predict what will happen. Then write down what did happen. Keep trying this with various control issues until you learn that there really is nothing to worry about.
When Depression Makes Church So Hard “Having struggled with severe depressive illness for over twelve years, I can tell you that I never (never!) want to go to church on a Sunday morning. It is an exhausting battle every single time, and I don’t always make it.”
Why CEOs Devote So Much Time to Their Hobbies “In public and in private, CEOs state that their leisure interests help them cope with the ever-increasing demands of the top job. They typically invest considerable time in their leisure, and even block off time far in advance to protect it from “life taking over,” as one interviewee said. A few common themes stood out about how their passion helps them:”
How perfectionism became a hidden epidemic among young people “Broadly speaking, perfectionism is an irrational desire for flawlessness, combined with harsh self-criticism. But on a deeper level, what sets a perfectionist apart from someone who is simply diligent or hard-working is a single-minded need to correct their own imperfections.”
Obey God with Your Creativity “The other reason I say that imagination is a Christian duty is that when a person speaks or writes or sings or paints about breathtaking truth in a boring way, it is probably a sin. The supremacy of God in the life of the mind is not honored when God and his amazing world are observed truly, analyzed duly, organized clearly, and communicated boringly.”
Encouragement for Bible Reading from Puritan Women “These women found themselves in different situations but each one made the Bible central to their lives because, despite the hard passages and personal doubts they had, they knew its basic message could be understood and that by reading it, they communed with God himself”
Counseling Together: Ten Benefits to Co-Counseling with Your Spouse “I love team counseling. Whenever I counsel a woman, I involve a female co-counselor or trainee. She might be my wife Lauren, or she might be another godly sister in Christ. Perhaps I want to give that woman added training and experience. Or she might bring valuable experience or expertise. Or maybe she has a positive relationship with the counselee, or better fits her demographic, etc.”
Tips on Preaching Narratives “Since we move by and large towards the Reformed spectrum of the Christian church our tendency inherently is to be most comfortable when we are preaching Paul–and as a consequence, to be least comfortable when we are preaching from things that are very different from the Pauline style–with the result that we tend to preach the whole of the Bible as if Paul had written it. We take historical narrative or poetic narrative and there is really no difference in the style of our exposition whether we are preaching from one part of Scripture or from another.”
1. “Do not worry” is the single hardest instruction in the Bible. Although anxiety and depression are the most common emotional health problems among Christians, the church rarely addresses them and is ill-equipped to deal with them.
2. Churches often communicate that being worried is proof of a shallow or weak faith. This compounds the problem because then the worrier has the additional worry that they are offending God by their lack of faith.
3. Matthew 6:25-34 is an example of divine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Jesus is challenging us to transform our response to perceived threats and find better ways to face the challenges of life. Lessons from that passage include:
Jesus challenges us not to remain independent of God by incessantly worrying about our own needs but to be God-reliant for all our needs
Jesus does not command us to give up all concern for what we need but to give up insightless, faithless obsession with security.
Jesus teaches us not to “run” (v. 32) after the certainty of provision. This word “run” indicates a desperate obsession.
Striving for certain security is not just irrational and fruitless; it undermines God’s good character.
4. There are two types of worry—today worry and tomorrow worry (v. 34).
Today worry (v. 34b): The solvable worries you can deal with today.
Tomorrow worry (v. 34a): The unsolvable floating worries, or hypothetical “what ifs” about tomorrow.
5. Jesus leads us out of bondage by leading us into the now. He teaches us to focus on the present of the Kingdom of God. Once we get better at focusing on the present Kingdom of God rather than our security, trust and peace will increase.
6. The Christian life can be undermined by seeking and demanding absolute certainty. Most Christian problem worriers find themselves drawn toward desperate attempts to attain certainty regarding their faith, which ultimately undermine confidence in their relationship with God. They will worry less if that learn to accept a degree of uncertainty rather than demanding it. In the next chapter, we will look at tolerating uncertainty.
1. Worry is like a weed. If we just prune the top branches, it will soon grow back.
2. Worry damages low self-esteem. It undermines our confidence in the things we know are true and makes us doubt all our decisions.
3. 70% of people with GAD experience depression at some point. This is because they tend to focus on negative events and make negative forecasts.
4. Most problematic worry has some core worry rules. These rules act like fertilizer that surrounds our worry plant. “Worry rules are the opposite of God’s grace to us: they are always absolutes; they are harsh and judgmental in tone and completely inflexible.”
5. “Worry rules” and “worry beliefs” often appear to be helpful attitudes or outlooks. That’s why people are often reluctant to change them.
6. Three characteristics to help spot “worry rules” are:
Shoulds, musts, and oughts. (e.g. “I should be able to do this more easily”)
Always and never. (e.g. “Things never work out for me.”)
Consequences or if-then rules. (e.g. “If I am nice to people, then I will have lots of friends)
Until we change or re-evaluate our worry rules, we will not pull worry out by the roots.
7. “Worry beliefs” actually champion worry as a good thing. These beliefs are the greatest obstacles to healing and recovery, mainly because we think they are actually helping us. They include:
Worry aids problem-solving
Worry helps to motivate
Worry prevents things going wrong
Worry protects from difficult emotions if things do go wrong
Worry makes for nicer people.
8. Learning to break worry rules and doubt worry beliefs is the way to healing. There are three simple ways to do so:
Challenge the weakest first. Undermining one worry rule will weaken all the others.
Challenge the logic. See the inevitable hole and flaws in your rules and beliefs.
Challenge the benefits. Ask how do you benefit from adhering to this worry rule and how would you benefit from breaking it.
9. Changing your behavior will change some of your worry feelings. Despite the feelings, do what you fear doing and more positive feelings will generally follow. “Overcoming worry rules in a challenge where you must lead, but you undertake it with Jesus, reliant on his comfort and encouragement.”