Anxiety or fretfulness is a persistent feeling of uneasiness over the unfolding of future events. On the one hand this can be good in that it provides us with motivation. The fear of being hungry and homeless provides the drive to go out to work. In such cases, when we see the paycheck and settle into a routine we usually calm down. On the other hand there are many for whom this apprehension persists regardless of the circumstances. This can be either specific, whereby there is an identifiable object of worry or nonspecific, for which there is no apparent reason for being so vexed. This level of discomfort is the opposite of trust and confidence. Thus the root cause of anxiety is in not understanding the relationship between us and our Creator. Even those who truly believe in the Almighty are unable to acknowledge that he is in control of all events and that everything that happens is for our good.
Moreover, the dark spirit within us wants to foster the feeling of independent existence. It has a distinct advantage because G-d has deliberately concealed his presence to allow for self awareness. Hence when we operate our five senses we cannot experience G-d’s presence. We can only learn about it through reading and studying. However, once we come to learn and understand that the Omnipresent has created reality within Himself, we begin to realize that nothing is left to chance. Therefore, to fret over what will be is the same as declaring a lack of trust in G-d.
What If . . .?
With specific anxiety, there is the worry over any number of planned activities. The fretful person is always asking “What if “ questions like, “What if I am making the wrong decision? What if something happens? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t make the sale? What if the car breaks down? What if a terrorist bomb goes off? What if it rains? What if the agent or editor rejects my book proposal? What if my book gets published and doesn’t sell?” Since most people go through such questions everyday, it is a miracle that anyone can make a decision. The question that people should be asking is, “What if I just accept whatever happens and thank G-d for it?”
I’m Worried about something . . . I just Can’t Put my Finger on it
With nonspecific anxiety there is a constant feeling of uneasiness that the person cannot identify. This symptom has undoubtedly become more prevalent since the proliferation of suicide bombings that began around the turn of the new millennium. However, the underpinning of this kind of stress is uncertainty. Most people gravitate toward predictable outcomes. The realization that a situation exists for which the outcome is unpredictable gives rise to apprehension.
The Resolution – Finding Faith
As said previously, the root cause of anxiety is not being able to trust in the Almighty. It is that simple. The question then is, “How do we fix it?” Developing such total faith in G-d requires transformation. For most people G-d is a mere concept, because He does not allow us to see His glory, to hear His voice or to feel His presence. On the other hand, G-d’s revelation is here in the physical world in plain sight. It is the Torah, which is comprised of the Five Books of Moses, the books of scripture from Joshua to Isaiah and the books of the Talmud, much of which is accessible in many different languages. This is the will and wisdom of our Creator. And, as we have learned from the Tanya, everything that originates from G-d stays within Him, especially His written and spoken words.
Therefore, as the Alter Rebbe has said many times in the Tanya, to study Torah is the same as being one with The Almighty. Once you receive this revelation, no doubt remains that there is one true G-d who controls the world. At this point you can direct your thoughts and speak to Him to declare out loud your complete faith and trust.
Furthermore, you need to begin to realize that in reality you are totally dependent on G-d for every breath. We all walk around in a sea of air. The weight of that column of air that is above us at all times is bearing down on us. This is called atmospheric pressure. It is this heaviness that would prevent our lungs from expanding to fill up with air if not for the thin sac around the lungs in which there is a constant vacuum. If any air gets into this sac the lungs would collapse and the atmospheric pressure would cause death. Moreover, we seem to know exactly how fast and how deeply we need to breathe to regulate the amount of oxygen in the blood without giving it a single thought. Hence it is G-d’s loving care that keeps us breathing an average of 20 times per minute, 1,200 times per hour, 28,880 times per day, 202,160 times per week and 10,512,320 times per year.
Additionally, when we eat, what prevents us from chewing on the inside of our mouths or biting off pieces of our tongues? Again, it is G-d’s loving care. Add to that all of the other thousands of chemical reactions with hormones, enzymes, ions and the flow of millions of electrical impulses every minute and you can easily see that every heart beats with the same rhythmic Divine intervention. If all of the complexities of the human body aren’t enough, what about the ecological systems by which the earth and its trees bear fruit or the animals that give us meat and clothing. Want something to worry about? What if all of these things that keep us alive were left to chance?