In these articles, I explore the wide realm of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and delve into how our thoughts shape our inner worlds, external behaviors, and moods.

In Logic-Based Therapy and Everyday Emotions, Elliot Cohen identifies Dutiful Worrying as dutifully disturbing oneself and others until one is certain that an ideal solution has been found to the perceived problem. There are many problems with Dutiful Worrying, not the least of which is there are no ideal solutions, only tradeoffs. We must forego one opportunity when choosing another.

Another toxin in Dutiful Worrying is the underlying anxiety. The sharp pangs of anxiety can trick us into thinking the way to handle problems is to obsessively worry about the solution. The antidote to this toxin is the virtue of Prudence, or Wisdom. Wisdom, teaches us to get a realistic grip on our thoughts about our circumstances.

You cannot control your circumstances. You cannot control other people. But you can control yourself, your own mind. This is all you have control over, really. And you have the power to discipline your thoughts with a little effort.

The Prudent person counters worry by striving for an enlightened grasp of moral standards. Note the term, “enlightened,” a reference to light. Solomon poetically describes the presence of the light of Wisdom:

Therefore thou didst provide a flaming pillar of fire
as a guide for thy people’s unknown journey,
and a harmless sun for their glorious wandering.

Wisdom of Solomon 18:3, RSV

Wisdom brings light into the darkness of our confused minds during our suffering sojourn on this temporary earth.

The Prudent person also seeks what is in the best interest of oneself and others. Worry, on the other hand, demands certainty with solutions and frames reality in black-and-white terms (“Damned if I do, damned if I don’t”). This will only end in failure and disappointment because it is not realistic. Such an attitude doesn’t match the real world but insists the world must match our ego. But Wisdom is humble. It accepts grey area and frames life’s challenges in constructive and realistic ways, always guided by enlightenment.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet
    and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105, RSV