Worry, the Thorn in Our Soil…

Tips on how to decrease worry and improve your mindset
Worry and anxiety choke our faith. A lot of us know this, but still struggle deeply with a mindset of fearful anticipation. Matthew 13:22 says the seed that falls among the thorns is like someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life, choke the word making it unfruitful. What exactly does this mean?

If we stay with the analogy of a seed, planting our faith in a worried heart is like planting a seed in thorny, rocky soil. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the seed will soon die; there is no nourishment or source of life in this soil. Our worry, fear, angst, and even panic do the same thing to us: cut off our life force. 

You may be thinking, “Really? If I worry, it will cut off my life source?” Well, not if you worry once or twice, or even on occasion. But if you live in a constant state of worry or anxiety, the answer is an easy yes. 

God is our life source, and worry and fear are barriers to him, not connectors. They steal our joy and peace. They steal our ability to trust and have faith. We may say we have faith yet live in a frequent state of second guessing and/or worst-case scenario thinking. 

In all honesty, I am a natural worrier and glass-half-empty kind of girl. I’m aware that this is the opposite of the message I portray through Tattoos of My Soul and as a Life Coach. I encourage people to be confident. I even have T-shirts and hoodies with this very word on them. I talk about how gratitude changes brain chemistry and how our thoughts are the very essence of who we are. I say all of this, yet I’m a natural worrier and pessimist? 

Yes! That’s 100% correct. I put consistent intention towards reframing and countering this way of thinking. 

Self-assess for a minute to determine if you are in this group, who I’ll lovingly call “the nailbiters.” I can say this because I’m there with you. 😊 

Do you: 

Frequently feel anxious at any indication of challenge/difficulty/upset to your plans? 

Frequently play out worst-case scenario scenes in your mind? 

Jump to conclusions quickly when a problem arises? 

Often have black or white thinking as it relates to issues/circumstances? 

Pray and “hand it over to God,” only to return to your negative mental rant minutes later? 

I could keep going, but most likely you know who you are if you said yes to more than one of those questions. 

Faith and trust are the opposite of worry and fear—the fertile soil that is free of thorns. Every time we give attention and focus to things that increase our faith and trust, such as time in God’s word, we are watering and nourishing the seeds of faith and trust. Over time, these seeds grow more and more and become the foundation of all that we are. This allows us to be spirit-filled and full of spiritual energy. It’s like a fuel tank. When the tank is empty, it’s hard to maneuver through the challenges of life, but when the tank is full, we can manage anything that comes our way. 

It boils down to this very basic truth. We humans (myself included) often struggle to choose trust instead of worry. We want control over everything, and when we don’t have it, we go on an internal tailspin. These tendencies, though, are the thorns and the rocky soil, and do not produce fruit in the long run. 

BUT, if we can reframe our thoughts, we can begin producing fruit and gain spiritual energy that propels us through all the challenges of this life. 

So, how exactly do we do this? How do we increase our spiritual energy and build a foundation of trust and faith? How do we get rid of the thorns, and produce the fruit? 

Here are my top 8 recommendations (the ones that help me the most!) 

1. Dive into God’s word on a VERY frequent basis. This is one of the primary ways God communicates with us. Plug in frequently so you don’t miss the message. 

2. Implement at least 20 minutes a day for quiet time, meaning time for yourself to pray, mediate or simply sit in silence. This is calming and increases peace when done consistently overtime. 

3. Reframe negative thoughts. Avoid the “what if” frame of mind. When this comes up, catch your thought process before it runs wild. Focus on the present moment, and trust that God is working in your favor (even if you can’t physically see it). 

4. Exercise! Yes, exercise decreases worrisome thoughts as it produces the feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. It’s hard to worry or feel anxious after a good workout. Instead, you’ll feel confident and like you can conquer the world! 

5. Eat and drink well. Nutrition (or lack thereof) absolutely plays a role in our mindset. Do some research and incorporate foods and supplements into your diet that support mental well-being and keep natural depressants, like alcohol, in moderation. 

6. Surround yourself with UN-like-minded people. That sounds funny, but you need to do it. Identify the naturally optimistic, glass-half-full people in your life. My husband is this person for me. He helps to balance me out in this way, and it is one of the things I love about him the most. 

7. Keep your mind focused, engaged, and active. There is a quote that says, “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” When we are mentally engaged and focused on a task that requires brain power, we are less likely to go down that panic-filled rabbit trail. Keep your mind active and engaged on a daily basis. Avoid idle brain time. 

8. Finally, implement a gratitude practice. As I said earlier, gratitude changes our brain chemistry. Actual MRI’s have shown this. You can make a daily list of two to three things you are grateful for or fill a family gratitude jar. How you do it doesn’t matter, it’s the act of expressing gratitude that does. 

These tips may seem simple and basic, but they can and will make a huge difference if done consistently overtime. 

Yes, our minds may gravitate to thorny and rocky soil, but we don’t have to let them. By raising awareness to our thoughts, we can start eliminating the thorns, and make our way to more fertile soil. It is in this place we will begin producing the fruit that leads to increased peace, trust, and faith. A calm confidence will wash over us, and we will realize that the energy we have used to worry all this time, can be refocused and used in a much better way.              

Activating Faith, an Inner Muscle