Shlomo Ezagui

Anxiety? Give Up Control

Hand pointing at a Anxiety word illustration on blue background.

At the time of the secular New Year, when we draw closer to the end of one chapter of life and can already anticipate the turning of the calendar page, many of us begin to feel anxiety about the year to come. The next few chapters will introduce some tools and techniques that religion offers to deal with this anxiety and anxiety born of other life issues.

There is a strong connection between anxiety disorders and certain common personality traits. God created everyone with what mysticism calls “an animal soul.” Everyone has got one. This source of life energy generates and propels negative feelings and anxieties in our lives. The animal soul must be addressed if one wishes to achieve long-term relief from anxiety and tension.

Excessive need for control. Perfectionism. Extreme cautiousness. Excessive need for approval. Insecurity, over-dependency, and a tendency to suppress negative feelings. These are some of the traits that are common in people with high anxiety.

Our sages tell us, “Half the cure is knowing the sickness.” Without recognizing the anxiety-producing parts of your personality and learning to approach life from a different perspective, you may end up suffering from anxiety symptoms forever — locked in a constricted world of your own making — when in truth, freedom and relief is possible.

The various anxiety-inducing personality traits I listed above share several psychological and emotional features: an unrealistic and disproportionate sense of ego.

Through the many forms of media, the world we live in dictates that an intelligent, strong human being must have the answers to everything. There is a how-to guide or a six-, seven-, and eight-step solution to every difficulty. Whenever we are faced with a problem, it is entirely our fault, or we are entirely responsible for fixing the mess.

When a person sees himself as “self-made” and depends entirely on himself, it is no wonder that a person can and will buckle under enormous pressure he unnecessarily placed upon him/her self. We are told, “He is rich, and therefore he must be smart.” Or worse, “He is smart; therefore, he will certainly make it big in life.”

The smartest of all men, King Solomon, tells us, “It is not to the wise bread.” Bread and success do not come because a person is wise “because it is He who gives you strength to succeed,” says the Bible.

Let us consider the first trait I mentioned above: the excessive need for control. This notion that “It is all up to me and the results are all my own doing” contradicts what we are told in the Ethics of our Fathers. A most potent instruction and lesson to remember in life is that “It is not upon you to conclude (and bring about the complete final results of any effort), and you are not free to desist from doing something.”

We certainly must give it all we have got when discharging our responsibilities. Our obligation to make an effort means giving it our all and never stopping trying. However, a big world doesn’t always align with our agendas. As much as we try, someone bigger and better than us, God, may have some other plans for the entire universe, and those plans include the best situation for each individual, including me.

It is impossible for anyone person or group of people to control anything. We try our best and succeed (if it is so determined in Heaven and success is in our best interest) with a bit of help from Above. It is unrealistic to take it all on your shoulders. Give up the control and leave a little room in your life for God in His immeasurable wisdom and power to help you succeed where, and when, it is best for you to succeed.

Chapter 82

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
Related Topics
Related Posts