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Managing worry by Jenny McKim


Worry, as we know, is all about uncertainty – not knowing what is going to happen and fearing (often believing) that the outcome is going to be harmful. Recent research has shown intolerance of uncertainty to be the main driver to the experience of worry, and that most of our resulting coping actions and behaviours are simply attempts to increase our sense of certainty. Commonly, we will circle over the feared future event (that hasn’t yet happened and may never happen); devising multiple plans to meet every possible scenario; checking, rechecking and reassurance seeking. We can often end up feeling exhausted and demoralised as anticipating the future can be futile – it is uncertain and can’t be predicted. In talking to people, it seems as though a global sense of fatigue and has descended upon us all, as we try to grapple with the rapidly changing world we currently exist in – not knowing what is coming next, how each new development will affect us, and therefore how we can best mitigate it.

As a psychologist, I draw from well researched protocols to help people manage worry and uncertainty, by learning to stay in the current moment; to learn to think things through in a way that prevents their going round in circles; and to trust their ability to solve problems as they arise, rather than trying to anticipate them, even when being faced with the worst. For me, while I know the validity of this work; as a Christian I also know that, we can find peace in the absolute certainty that if we put our trust in God, we don’t need to feel worry or fear – that we are not alone, God loves us and has a plan for us.

As it is written in Isaiah 41: v13:

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

As Jesus teaches us also in Matthew 6: v25-27

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And John 14: v27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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