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Between politics and a worldwide crisis, it feels natural to worry. But worrying can also make problems bigger and rob you of any perspective if it hangs around too long.

Learning to work alongside the unknown and embrace the things outside of your control only makes life better for you and your loved ones the ones you love.

In this episode, Dr. Rick reanalyzes what it means to worry and how you can transform it into unquestionable trust and faith during uncertain times.

Show Highlights Include:

  • Why worrying strips you of thinking rationally – and how to remain calm and with common sense the next time you face a crisis. (1:15)
  • Why Jesus told people not to worry 2000 years ago and how to you can stop negative thoughts from robbing time and happiness in your life today. (4:00)
  • Why hope is never lost and the powerful results that come with trusting God (and the universe) right now. (8:51)
  • The “Philippians” way of changing hopeless thoughts into faithful lessons immediately. (12:30)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thank you for stopping by. I am thrilled to talk with you about something that continues to plague me. It plagues many people and I think I have some instructive conclusions that might help us get over it. It's called “worry.”

Hey, how many of you remember the song back in the late-80s? I want to say it was about 1988 when I first heard Bobby McFerrin sing, “Don't worry. Be happy.” Y'all remember that song? And despite that great melody, despite the encouragement by Bobby in his song to enjoy the moment, to embrace life, to allow the sun to beat off your face, we still worry. [01:10.5]

In fact, for many of us, I would argue that worry is a constant companion, and lately I've been thinking I want to rid myself of so many of the bags of worry in my life. So, I want you to just listen, I want you to think, and I want you to reflect on some of the things that I want to share today.

I'm recording this particular podcast in the midst of a global pandemic. Not only is there a global pandemic going on, but there's racial tension all over the world, especially here in the United States, and there's also political unrest that has reared its ugly face all throughout the United States as well. [01:55.5]

These global exigencies and exigence is an imperfection in life marked by an urgency. These global challenges, I believe, they've produced an anxiety epidemic, and so every day we're in this seemingly never ending cycle where new anxieties are evolving. As a matter of fact, if you watch the news, I believe that a lot of the newscasts are simply resulting in this negative cycle, continuing to perpetuate, and it causes us to lose perspective, and that's just not good.

Psychologists tell us that there are several reasons why we worry. We worry in an attempt to solve problems. Whether those problems are perceived or real, we become emotionally activated by worry, so we're not thinking in a calm and rational way, but we're thinking in more of an emotive way. What can we do to get out of a situation, even if the situation is not real? That just doesn't make sense and yet I find myself doing that. [03:02.2]

It's interesting, when a future outcome is uncertain, we want to make sure it turns out well. We have a hard time with uncertainty and I think this pandemic has clearly indicated that. I mean, think about it for a moment.
Think about how this time of uncertainty has compounded our worry.

First of all, we got worried about getting COVID. We got worried about COVID spreading. We were worried about sheltering at home, sheltering in place. We were worried about relocating to a home office environment. We worried about the lack of resources and lost wages. We worry about how long things would be this way. We worry then about the vaccinations and when will they arrive and who will get them first, and we even worry about which vaccination we want to get. Uncertainty is a worry producer, and, sadly, I know that firsthand. [04:01.2]

I think back to when my first wife, Trina, was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Do you know the hardest part, one of the hardest parts of that six-year season in our lives was this? I remember the time between Trina discovering the lump in her breast in a self-examination and the time of the diagnosis. That was probably about a two-week period and that uncertainty drove us absolutely crazy. That's when the “what ifs” enter into your life? What if it's cancer? What if it's death? What if things don't turn out the way that we hope that they will turn out? And it's during that time of uncertainty, that my mind tends to default to the negative case and I begin to obsess with worry, trying to think things out and work things through. [05:03.6]

My point is simply this. It's in a time of uncertainty that we really tend to be become more anxious because we simply cannot figure out exactly what's going to happen in the future. With Trina's illness, I convinced myself, though, that worry was productive. I tried to problem-solve. I tried to rehearse different scenarios. My thinking was this: somehow if I worried, maybe things would get better.

I know that doesn't make any sense. Worry became my companion that it literally kind of stuck around and sort of prepared me for the worst case scenario, and my thinking was, If I worry about the worst case scenario, the worst case scenario won't be such a devastating blow. Friend, I want to tell you, my thinking was completely wrong. It was toxic. As I would later learn, it didn't prepare me for Trina's death whatsoever. [06:04.2]

As a matter of fact, I remember reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, that bestseller. He says worry is “unreasonable”, yep, “unnatural”, got that one, “unhelpful”, mm-hmm, and “unnecessary”.

Worry is just not productive, one negative thought leading to another. The next thing you know, there's an avalanche of negativity. You become more stressed, more anxious. It brings up more negative possibilities and convinces the brain that the worst is going to happen, right? Worry changes absolutely nothing.

Now, I want you to think about this statistic that psychologists tend to share. 85% of what we worry about never happens. I'm going to say that again. The overwhelming majority of the stuff that we worry about never materializes, and yet think about how much effort we put into worry. [07:06.7]

Uncertainty doesn't have to be the incubator for worry. As a matter of fact, I've been thinking more and more how I can use uncertainty to help me deepen my trust and my faith. Psychologists say that our brains don't always distinguish between reality and imagination, so I'm thinking to myself, if that's true, why not feed my brain a reality that I am certain of that's in the positive case?

For me, I am a man of faith and the Holy Scriptures instruct me not to worry. As a matter of fact, Jesus issues it as a command in the Sermon on the Mount when he says, “Don't worry.” It's an imperative. It's a command. So, if our brain struggles between distinguishing reality from imagination, and worry is imagined, then why not feed our brains with the reality of God's word? [08:10.3]

As I get older, I realize that I should have worried less about certain chapters in my life. As I reflect back on certain adventures, I now, at age 65, wonder why I spent so much time worrying because all it really cost me was tension, poor sleep, irritability, fatigue and frustration. It robbed me of productivity, creativity, and imagination.

Here's the real key for me. As I look back over my life, all the times, all the seasons that I worried, it was indicating a lack of trust, right? It was indicating that I was placing more trust in my ability to problem-solve than I was in trusting God. [08:57.8]

We're overwhelmed with worry because, I think, we're obsessed with fear, and we're obsessed with fear because we choose not to trust. When we choose not to trust, we have no other choice but to give into anxiety because we don't see any way out, and when that happens, friends, we lose perspective.

I shall never forget. September 1996, the scene was a funeral home and I'm standing in the front of the funeral home, looking into my first wife Trina's casket, and I'm holding the hands of my two little boys. Friends, it doesn't get much worse than that. I remember turning to my father and I remember saying to my dad, “I've lost hope, Dad. I've lost hope,” and I'll never forget what he said. My dad said, “Son, you can't lose something God gave you. You haven't lost hope. You've lost perspective.” [10:02.8]

I have thought about those words for 25 years and I am living proof that he was right on the money. You can have so much anxiety in your life produced by uncertainty that you literally see no way out, and when you don't see any way out, it's not that you lose hope. It's that you lose perspective.

Do you want to stop worrying? I do. I am becoming more and more convinced that if I want to just decrease my worrying, I have to believe that in something bigger than that which worries me. I literally have to believe in something bigger than my worry. Whether you call it the universe or a higher power, or your version of spirituality, that's your business and I respect your opinion. I really do. As a Christian man, I call it God, not just God, but the God of the Holy Scriptures. [11:06.0]

My relationship with God encourages me to trust even when I don't see a way out, to believe that somehow I'm going to make it with his help. As a matter of fact, that's what I define as hope, that quality that God places within each and every one of us that places this transformative demand upon our heart to believe for the absolute best outcome. So, my source of strength is the Holy Scriptures. In just a few verses, Jesus said multiple times, “Don't worry.” He even asked the question, “Can all your worry add a single second to your life?” He says, “Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.”

You might be listening and you might say, Rick, that's good advice, but I don't believe in the Bible. I understand. I meet people every day that don't believe in the Bible. But you know what, friend? Believe in something bigger than your worry. I highly recommend the Bible, but believe in something that's going to pull you up, that's going to change your perspective. [12:21.3]

You might be listening and you might be saying, Rick, I need help because I constantly default to the negative. Every one of my thoughts are bad thoughts. I get that. I've lived on that block as well, Friend. Number one, I would say, eliminate the words “I can't” from your vocabulary. Come on, somebody. “Can't” is one of my three bad words that I've eliminated from my vocabulary, in addition to “I forgot” and “I'm sorry”, but that's for another time. [12:56.4]

Second, say something that reinforces the behavior that you desire. This is really important because it really works to inform the heart what the brain is saying, what the brain is thinking. Speak it out loud. It's important that your heart hears what's on your mind. There's a scripture that says, “As a man speaketh, so is he.” So, I will speak affirmations to myself that contradict the notion of “I can't”, and one of my favorites is when I say, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ.

Here's my favorite go-to verse when I worry. It's found in Philippians 4:8. The Apostle Paul said, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” [14:09.5]

Friend, I want to tell you something. Just challenging yourself to focus on what's true, what's honorable, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, that's a game changer. For me, it boils down to two realities and choosing one over the other. For me, am I going to trust God with my life or am I going to worry and be filled with fear and anxiety about my life?

Trina passed away after a six-year battle with breast cancer. I'm here to tell you that worry did not help one bit. It was unnecessary. It was unreasonable. It was unproductive. It did not help one bit. [14:58.4]

You know what did help? Those moments where I challenged myself to grow my faith, those seasons of uncertainty where I challenged myself to trust God, those moments when everything was stacked against me in the boys, when they were stacked against Trina, when I challenged myself to think about what's true and what's honorable and what's right, what's pure and what's lovely. You know what those thoughts gave me? They gave me hope, the belief that somehow with the help of God, we're going to make it through this together, and I'm living proof that I did. I didn't have the outcome that I wanted, but the point is we made it.
Oh, friend, I want to tell you something. If you can just figure out a way to trust something bigger than your worry and decrease your anxiety just by 10 percent, it'd be a better day, wouldn't it? [16:04.2]

I want you to think about these things. I highly recommend you trusting in Almighty God. You figure that one out on your own. But trust in someone or something bigger than your worry and begin to challenge your mind to dwell on that which is honorable and true and right and pure and lovely. Next thing you'll begin contemplating hope. That's right. Hope.

Think about these things for a few days, friends. I sure hope you do and I'm so glad we had this chance to just discuss this notion of worry for a few minutes. In the meantime, I want you to really decrease your worry by making sure that that which you trust in is far greater than that which you worry about.

Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask. How you livin’? [17:06.6]

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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