As someone who has treated myriads of people who struggle with anxiety disorders, and have struggled with it a bit myself – it is important for our mental health and overall well-being to be aware of the many positive ways our world is continually becoming a better place. The human race has made progress in very notable areas, including but not limited to: economic growth, lower levels of poverty, increased technology, less war and violence, less hunger, less child labor and infant death, increase in leisure time, higher sexual accountability, and higher levels of education.
Of course we should not minimize the problems we have and should continue to address- but I’ve noticed that there are three very notable places where the way things are presented are done in a way that elicit fear and anxiety: the general media, political debates and religious settings. It’s a good idea to limit how much listening and viewing we do – especially to stations/programs/people who present information from a polarized perspective. And when looking through the Mormon lens, the Plan of Happiness can be deterred for many sitting in the pews when the focus turns too often to Satan, the inevitable doom leading up to the Second Coming, the checklist necessary to feel worthy, the “evils of the world,” etc. If you don’t struggle with anxiety or depression, then these messages can be heard and thoughts can quickly redirect to the more positive aspects being shared. However, if you do, this cognitive redirection is much more difficult. And with about 30% of our adult population dealing with a mood disorder at any given time – that’s a lot of people sitting in church struggling to feel worthy, unafraid, and not overwhelmed.
I would encourage that as we share our messages, testimonies and lessons that we highly focus on the Good News of the Gospel – eliciting hope, healing, redemption and grace. Especially during this time of year. And that we put problems in perspective with all the good and progress that surrounds us.