Monday, January 29, 2007



From OED:

7. intr. for refl. To become eaten, corroded, or worn; to waste or wear away; to decay, become corrupt. Also with asunder, off, out. Obs. Cf. FRET v.4 2.

8. trans. To chafe, irritate. Chiefly with regard to the mind: To annoy, distress, vex, worry. Also, to fret oneself; and to bring into or to (a specified condition) by worrying. Cf. FRET v.4 1.

9. a. intr. for refl. To distress oneself with constant thoughts of regret or discontent; to vex oneself, chafe, worry. Often with additional notion of giving querulous and peevish expression to these feelings. Also, to fret and fume, and fret it out, and const. about, after, at, over, upon.

Today I was fretting, and I had two thougts about it. The first was an old gospel song which I learned in Sunday Morning Church®. The lyrics were

Fret not, he's watching over you,
Fret not, the Lord knows what to do.
Fret not, you're sure to stand the test.
Commit and trust, delight and rest.

The lyrics are from the first 7 verses of Psalm 37 in the Authorized Translation. Here are the same verses from the Message:

Don't bother your head with braggarts
or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they'll shrivel like grass clippings
and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.

Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he'll do whatever needs to be done:
He'll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.

Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don't bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

If you read the rest of this psalm, you will encounter something which occurs all over the place in the bible and which absolutely mystifies me, namely, an extremely simple and clear dichotomization between "the righteous" and "the wicked". This is something I simply cannot see in "the real world".

My second thought about my fretting was in regards to my very recent learnings about mindfulness. I realized I could somehow regress a little and rather than fret about what I was fretting about directly, I could observe myself fretting about it, as a sort of wise, compassionate, yet somewhat detached observer "Look at that--I am all worked up about ________. I'm feeling ___________ right now, and it's affecting me in the following ways. I am loved, and isn't this fascinating. I can bring my love of learning, one of my major character strengths, to bear on this fascinating phenomenon. Etc. Etc.

I found the mindfulness thing a ton more helpful than the Bible thing.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Benjamin, I love the detached observer technique!

I read about it in a book about how to manage OCD. Not that I have OCD but I read it out of curiosity, to see if it had any good tips in it.

I think I'm using a version of it when I tell myself "Ok, so you feel bad - why don't you go do some laundry until you feel better?"

And of course if I get something off my to do list then that will help me feel better anyway.