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Excerpted from Beyond Anxiety and Phobia by Edmund Bourne. Copyright © 2001 by Edmund Bourne. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"While it is fine to do your best in life, itís also important to affirm your intrinsic worth Ė who you are, apart from outer accomplishments."

  Edmund Bourne,
Beyond Anxiety and Phobia
, Part 3

Relinquishing the Excessive Need to Control

Worry has to do with predicting unfavorable outcomes associated with situations you canít fully control. By worrying, you provide yourself with an illusion of control. If you worry about something enough, then you feel that somehow youíre not at a total loss with it Ė you wonít be caught off guard. If you were to stop worrying, you imagine that you would give up control. Spiritual growth, regardless of the tradition or approach you follow, encourages the cultivation of a willingness to surrender control. Without relinquishing self-responsibility, you learn to allow your Higher Power to have some influence in determining the outcome of situations you feel you canít control. I believe this is one of the most important aspects of spiritual growth that can contribute to reducing anxiety. Being able, at times, to turn over your worries to a Higher Power can relieve some of the burden you think you have to carry in order to solve your problems.

Increased Self-Worth

As you develop a relationship with a Higher Power, you come to recall that you did not actually create yourself. You remember that you are a part of the universe of creation as much as the birds, stars, and trees. If this is a benign and supportive universe we live in Ė and developing a relationship with your Higher Power will help you to believe that it is Ė then, in essence, youíre good, lovable, and worthy of respect just by virtue of the fact that youíre here. We treat our pets with respect and love just for being who they are, yet we often fail to do so with ourselves. However you behave Ė whatever choices you make Ė you are still inherently good and worthwhile. Your own judgments of yourself, however negative, do not ultimately count if you are a creation of the universe as much as everything else. As one person humorously put it: "God doesnít make junk." (It is, of course, a mistake to assume that this type of reasoning can be used to justify ignorant or unethical behavior. Itís important to keep in mind the distinction between how a person behaves and what they are in essence.)

Relaxing Perfectionistic Standards of Achievement

If your essential worth is inborn, then basing self-worth on striving to meet external standards of perfection, standards prescribed by society (i.e., perfect career, perfect house, perfect figure, perfect children, and so on), is misplaced. Socially prescribed standards are relatively superficial, and striving for them does not provide ultimate satisfaction. While it is fine to do your best in life, itís also important to affirm your intrinsic worth Ė who you are, apart from outer accomplishments. When people are near death, it has been found that there are only two things that they invariably feel were important about their lives: 1) learning how to love others and 2) growing in wisdom. How would your view of yourself change if you evaluated yourself by these two standards?

Increased Capacity to Give and Receive Unconditional Love

A fundamental characteristic of your Higher Power is that it offers you an experience of unconditional love. This is a kind of love that differs from romantic love or even ordinary friendship. It entails an absolute caring for the welfare of another without any conditions. That is, no matter how another person appears or acts, you have compassion and care for them without judgment. As you develop a deeper connection with your Higher Power, you come to experience greater degrees of unconditional love in your life. You feel your heart opening more easily to people and their concerns. You feel freer of judgment toward them or of making comparisons among them. Unconditional love shows up both in your increased capacity to give love to others as well as to experience more of it coming into your life. You begin to experience less fear and more joy in your life as you help to inspire others to experience their own capacity for unconditional love. This kind of love also manifests itself through the experience of having everything you need in your life to get on with what you want to do.

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