Do you ever feel anxious? If we examine statistics, there is a good chance that you do! One study estimates that one out of every five people suffer from an anxiety disorder in a given year, and one out of three people experience an anxiety disorder at least once in their lives.

But what is anxiety? defines anxiety as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune,” and compares anxiety to words like doubt, dread, jitters, misery, nervousness, mistrust, panic, suffering, uncertainty, and uneasiness.

The word anxiety is based on a Greek word that means “to choke.” What this means is that when a person is feeling anxious, the stress of life is blocking the gentle, peaceful flow of prosperity and abundance within them. Anxiety is an emotion that chokes the abundant life that God created you to experience.

For many, anxiety is rooted in worry about having enough money to pay the bills. Ironically, the anxiety a person feels about money actually restricts the flow of money into their pockets. Think about it this way: Have you ever missed a day at work due to anxiety? There goes money out of your pocket. Have you ever paid for an anxiety medication to control your anxious thoughts? There goes money out of your pocket again. Have you ever purchased alcohol or drugs to keep your anxiety at bay? Once again, there goes your money.

Sometimes we buy things we don’t need to avoid anxious thoughts, or we drive around in our cars burning up gasoline because the stress of sitting alone with our thoughts is too much to handle. In this example of worrying about money, we can see how anxiety causes us to experience the very thing we fear!

The same principle is true of other things as well. We worry about relationships, and the anxiety we suffer negatively puts us in a bad mood and leads to arguments and isolation. We worry about gaining approval and acceptance at our workplace, and anxiety negatively affects our job performance. We worry about getting sick, and the negative emotions of anxiousness weaken our immune system and lead to sinus infections, allergies, and colds that drag on for weeks.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus talks about anxiety when he describes how a farmer scattered good seeds onto ground that was already covered in weeds. He called the weeds “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.” Jesus explains that these things “choke” the seed and make it unfruitful.

When we understand that anxiety is an emotion that restricts flow, we can begin to understand how to solve the problem. The following steps will help you to overcome anxiety so that you can begin to experience the flow of abundance in the area that is causing your to wory.

Step 1: Identify your fear.

This may seem like an easy first step, but this can actually take some time — and possibly some help from a counselor. Often, we experience anxiety because our fears are generalized and difficult to name. One step you can take to solve this problem on your own is to find a quiet place to sit at a table with a paper and pen. Take a deep breath and then write down the five things that bring you the most fear in life.

Step 2: Identify your courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather, it is acting with boldness in the presence of fear. People who have courage are not people who aren’t afraid. They are people who are willing to act in a fearful situation. You may remember the story of David and Goliath in the Bible where the young shepherd boy courageously faced a giant with a slingshot and a stone. The soldiers of the army of Israel did not have courage, but David did. The soldiers did not have to summon the courage to fight the giant. Instead, they placed their faith in a boy who did. In the same way, you need to identify your source of courage. You may not be able to face the giants, but God can. The Bible tells us to give our worries to God, saying, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Step 3: Face your fear.

As long as a problem remains unresolved, fear and anxiety will persist. The only way to escape the anxiety is to get rid of the problem that is causing it. As an example, suppose you knew that a 20-foot-long python was living under your house. Would this cause you some anxiety? What would you do about it? I doubt you would feel comfortable going to sleep each night knowing that there was a snake in your crawlspace that was capable of eating you alive. The only way to rid yourself of the fear and anxiety of this situation is to make a phone call to someone to get rid of the snake! When the snake is gone, the anxiety is gone. Similarly, after you have identified the fear that is causing your anxiety, you have to do something about it. It is not enough to simply understand the source of your fear. You also have to identify the source of your courage and face the problem.

God does not want you to live in anxiety. He does not want your life to be “choked” with worries and fear. In fact, he wants the opposite for you. He wants you to be fruitful and abundant in your emotions, in your relationships, in your finances, and in your ministries. God is willing to help you overcome anxiety, but the first step is to invite him to walk with you through the shadows and uncertainties of life. It is a relief to know that the Good Shepherd walks with us in comfort, guidance, and protection. When we understand that Jesus is the source of our courage and strength, and as we come to accept that there is no problem too big or too small for him to solve, we can walk increasingly in peace, assurance, and abundance of life that he has promised us.

[Are you facing anxieties in life that are choking your ability to experience peace, prosperity, and abundance? Click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor].

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