Empty Your Backpack

Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up. [Proverbs 12:25]

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

You can see it in their eyes.  Sometimes you can see it the way they walk.  They are the burdened.

The statistics are staggering.  In 2013, the most recent data available, 3 million Canadians, 11.6% of the total population over the age over 18 reported that they had a mood or anxiety disorder.  Mood disorders are characterized by a general lowering of a person’s happiness while anxiety is characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of nervousness and fear.  93% of people with one of these disorders have taken prescription medication with anti-depressant drugs the most prescribed type of drugs for patients between the ages of 25 and 44.

What causes anxiety and depression?

I’m no Doctor but based on my experience I can say with certainty that there are two main causes of depression and anxiety.

First off, depression is mainly an inability to forgive your past mistakes.  I’ve heard it said that depression is the imaginary demon we all carry reminding us of past injustices and set backs we have experienced.  The demon wants us to feel bad about ourselves, its desire is to hold us down and keep us from moving beyond feelings of disappointment and frustration.

Depression has also been described as anger turned inward.  That’s why when people try and get is to really examine our feelings we often lash out.  We don’t want to think about it because it hurts too much so we settle on a generalized, low level depression to numb the pain.  When that stops working we reach for a prescription or other type of bottle to further suppress our true feelings.

The cure of depression therefore is to examine the past.  Stop, take it out of the backpack of experience we all carry, look at it and let it go.  The past belongs in the past.  Like Rafiki says in The Lion King,

“Ah yes, the past can hurt.  But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”

Anxiety on the other hand is an attempt to live in the future.  Anxious people are constantly worried about what might happen and end up worrying themselves out of experiencing life as it happens.

This isn’t the same as being cautious.  Caution is warranted planning.  It accounts for the possibility of something going wrong and takes steps to either prevent disaster or mitigate the damage that could occur.  Putting on your seatbelt or wearing a helmet to play baseball is cautious, thinking about having a wreck every time you get in the car is anxiety.

The cure for anxiety is similar as the cure for depression.  Stop, take it out of the backpack of experience, look at it, take reasonable cautionary steps and let it go.  The future belongs in the future.  Or as Jesus said:

do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34]

So, leave the past in the past and the future in the future and live each day, no each moment as it comes.  In that way we will carry a much lighter backpack and enjoy life more. Tell me what you’re going to let go of today in the comments below…

Here’s a little more wisdom for the great shaman Rafiki for good measure…


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