Epictetus, once said this, “When I see an anxious person, I ask myself, what do they want? For if a person wasn’t wanting something outside of their own control, why would they be stricken by anxiety?”
This is a very reasonable question to ask ourselves or anyone we see being stricken with anxiety. What are we worrying about? Why do we allow our head and mind to be loaded with all sorts of things we can’t control. Every day has enough burdens of its own. Mostly for us parents. The anxious parents worry about their children at school, their safety, about the Covid-19, shooting, snow, feeding, clothing, bills, school fees, and the list goes on.
A Lady Stricken With Fear
Yesterday, after the service a lady shared a testimony about the emergency call she received from her’s child school, informing her that their school have been locked down for the day. And that her mind went off as soon as she heard that, but that reason was due to a student found with a gun to school. Due to the police investigations, there will be no in and out movement till the investigation is over the schools informed her. The lady narrated how fearful and worried they were. How she was literally shaking.
We all want a safe world, where we and our loved ones can find absolute safety, and enjoy real freedom. But is that illusive thinking or a reality that can be achieved? Your guess will be as good as mine. What of the traveling experience these days. Since the past Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, travelers have had some horrible, stressful experiences.
Wants Driven Anxiety
What do we say about a frenzied traveler, all he or she wants is fair weather, free from snow, rain, low temperature, not windy, no flight cancellation, no long queue, and no drama by the airport staff. Right? But what happens when the reverse is the case? The person is giving in to worry, anxious thoughts, oh, why am I going to make it to my destination safely?
What about business people, mostly the investors, always anxious about how the stock market is reacting every day with current events? The person is worried if he is going to lose or gain, whether the market is behaving positively so that the person can be sure that his or her investment will pay off.
Today, health care workers report to work filled with anxiety. Worried about losing their job, working extra assignments, contacting Omicron Virus, worried about the weather, and so forth. All these are legitimate concerns understandably so.
However, the point I want to establish from the Epictetus quote is that as human beings, our worries or anxieties are rooted in one thing, and that is in our want. We want something outside our control. For instance, we all want good weather no matter any part of the world we live in. But do any of us have any control over the weather changes? Not all. Or do we have control over how the stock market will react to any social or economic events?
In all the examples given, we can see that it is our desires, wants, expectations that trigger our anxiety. Because we are expecting from people or from the government what they are not ready to provide, or expecting things to be as we wish while the opposite is the reality. As a result, we get worked up, agitated, anxious, sad, downcast, betrayed, and such other negative feelings.
Practice the Spiritual Principles
No wonder the Christians are admonished in Philipains 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts…” I have begun to practice this spiritual principle and I tell you the result has been transformational.
Therefore, any time you find yourself getting anxious, ask yourself; Why am I anxious? Do I have any control over the situation? Does worrying, pacing, and being worked up doing me any good? If not I recommend that you practice the tip in the passage I quoted above and you will be able to over your anxiety.