How Should I Deal with Anxiety?

Anxiety can be helpful or harmful. Multiple prophets in the Book of Mormon acknowledge feelings of anxiety, and those feelings are generally caused by their love for others.

When Lehi spoke with his sons near the end of his life, he shared with them the confidence he felt: “The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell,” he said. “I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” But he was not entirely worry-free. He was concerned about the spiritual welfare of his sons: “I desire that ye should remember to observe the statutes and the judgments of the Lord; behold, this hath been the anxiety of my soul from the beginning” (2 Nephi 1:15-16).

One of Lehi’s sons, Jacob, began both of his sermons by telling the people how much anxiety he felt for them (2 Nephi 6:3, Jacob 2:3). After posing a difficult question to his readers, he expressed confidence in his ability to answer the question, but also some concern that he might “stumble because of [his] over anxiety for [them]” (Jacob 4:18).

King Mosiah translated the Jaredite record because his people were anxious to know about the people who had written it (Mosiah 28:12). After he abolished the monarchy and explained the virtues of a representative government, his people “became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins” (Mosiah 29:38).

And after preaching the gospel to an unreceptive audience in the city of Ammonihah, Alma made his final plea in these words:

I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance (Alma 13:27).

From these passages, I have learned the following principles:

  1. Anxiety can motivate positive action.
  2. When we love other people, we will feel anxiety for them.
  3. Anxiety can motivate us to speak up and encourage other people to do what’s right.
  4. A good leader will be aware of the anxieties of his or her people and will take appropriate action.
  5. We should be aware of our emotional state and careful that our anxiety doesn’t impair our steady fulfillment of duty.

Today, I will follow the example of Lehi, Jacob, and Alma, acknowledging the anxiety I feel for others and acting upon it. Like King Mosiah, I will take seriously the anxiety felt by the people I lead. I will strive to channel my anxiety, and the anxiety of others, toward productive action.

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