Anxiety, because it refuses to let anything go, is not unlike an emotional hoarder. Hoarders are anxious people. They are anxious about letting certain things go, such as refusing to throw out anything on paper. Their lives become so cluttered with things that they find essential, they have difficulty functioning.
Anxiety is a negativity hoarder, refusing to let go of any disparaging thought, potential terror, or possible disaster. Anxiety refuses to see the danger of the negativity it produces and panics at the thought of giving up hidden assumptions and mistaken beliefs. By refusing to let go of the small stuff, anxiety really majors in the minors.
The next time life hits you with some small stuff and you become anxious, take time to pay attention to what you say to yourself. Ask yourself these three questions:
- Why are you so anxious?
- What are you worried about?
- What are you sure is going to happen?
Start seeing these hidden assumptions and mistaken beliefs for what they are: anxiety clutter. The more you have to worry about, the more you’ll worry.
Anxiety will convince you that you’re not a hoarder but a collector. Anxiety will try to tell you that your anxieties are really treasures to be protected. Do not listen. Being anxious is a human trait and understandable. Staying anxious is a terrible way to live.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, gave his own instruction on living life on life’s terms. He said not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow would worry about itself. He also understood the nature of small stuff when he went on to say that each day has enough trouble of its own: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34)
How difficult Jesus’ instructions are to carry out. Don’t we find ourselves constantly worrying not only about today but also about tomorrow? Instead of living each day as it comes, we pile worry on top of worry!
Jesus instructed us to leave worry behind and to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Anxiety is not only a hoarder, it is also a jealous hoarder. Anxiety wants to monopolize all of your time and energy in worry and fear, leaving you little time to concentrate on the blessings and promises of God. Anxiety seeks to rob you of your peace and trust in God.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.