HOW ARE your nerves today? Are they calm and peaceful, or do they seem to be on edge, so that everything upsets you? Do you say that they will not let you sit still a minute, or do you merely tell your doctor in a plaintive manner that you are “so nervous”? These are common complaints which we hear daily. But if you are saying any of these things, or if you have been fondly believing that you are of a nervous temperament, prepare yourself for a shock. There is nothing the matter with your nerves; the trouble is elsewhere.
Let us examine the nerves. We find that each one is a thread of living tissue, and that these little fibers connect the brain cells with virtually every cell in the body. They resemble the electric wires in your telephone or radio, except that they are composed of soft tissue instead of metal. Each one consists of a central core surrounded by a membrane, thus resembling the wire in its insulating covering. Some of these nerves carry impulses from the brain to the various organs and tissues, while others carry messages from these to the great’ central office. The nerves are only a means of communication; they do not govern anything.
Since this is their duty, and since they only carry messages in one direction or the other, just as do the wires that connect your telephone with the main office, it is a misnomer to speak of these conditions of which you are complaining as “nervous.” In fact, if the nerves really become damaged from any cause accident or disease we have a definite paralysis or paresis as the result. These so-called nervous troubles are not of nervous origin. To find their source we must trace them back.
If we follow a nerve from its beginning, perhaps at a cell in the skin, we find that it ends in a brain cell. But we must not jump to the conclusion that these disagreeable bodily conditions are due to trouble at that point. When these little central organs are affected we also have some definite form of paralysis, either of motion or sensation, deter-mined by which group is involved. These brain cells are definite organs that play a part in the body function, but they are not the real beginning of the trouble.
The brain has been well likened to the central office of a telephone or telegraph system. We might go a little further in our simile. Each brain cell appears to be a minute telephone apparatus, through which messages are sent to different parts of the body, or through which calls are received from the distant stomach, liver, finger, or toe. So far we are dealing merely with a mechanism that we are using all the time. But it is purely a mechanism, and should be so recognized. Now in all these so-called nervous conditions the machinery is found to be perfect; so the trouble must be back of that. Here we come to that unseen worker within, the mind, which presides over the central office, and uses this wonderful mechanism to control the body. We must realize that any of these so-called nervous conditions, from the simplest case of fidgets to the most pronounced hysteria, is caused by some state of mind that is interfering with the orderly control of the affairs of the body. If we understand this point we shall at once see how to deal with these conditions.
Your hand trembles, and you say that you are nervous. For some reason you are not exercising a normal control over the muscles. There is an alternating faint contraction and relaxation, showing that the nerve impulses are not clear and decisive as they should be. There is a state of indecision behind this phenomenon, and this state is in the mind. In other words, so-called nervousness is a partial loss of control, or an irregular control, in the central office. When this becomes complete we have the condition known as hysteria. We all know people who become hysterical on the slightest provocation. They simply let their feelings take charge of them, and give up all self-control. This, then, gives us the clue. Nervous diseases are not nervous at all, but are varied degrees of emotional outbreaks. Let us follow this further.
We know that most of the functions of the body are carried on by the subconsciousness; so it is there that we must look for the real cause of the trouble. This part of the mind ordinarily works calmly and methodically, but if it is upset it becomes erratic in its action. It then behaves just as though it did not know exactly what to do, and the results of this indecision are seen in the outer behavior. It may give us trembling of the body, a case of indigestion, irregular heart action, or some other condition that we wrongly call nervous.
If you can imagine a train dispatcher sending a rapid succession of contradictory orders over the wires, you can see what would happen. Traffic would be disrupted. At places it would stop entirely, for engineers would refuse to move until “the old man made up his mind what he wanted done.” Your stomach, or some other organ, behaves in just this way if you allow a similar condition to possess you. The cells of your stomach are intelligent, but they are accustomed to obeying orders. If the directions cannot be understood, digestion may stop entirely. Then you blame your nerves, or send down a dose of pepsin, instead of getting back to the real trouble the upset mental condition and correcting that.
We know definitely what will interfere with the normal action of the subconsciousness. Any negative state of mind, such as a strong dislike, a buried hatred, a habit of condemning others, some little intolerance, or any other idea of this kind will have this result. So will a feeling that one has been unjustly dealt with, for this will induce condemnation. Fear acts thus, of course, and since all these negative thoughts are founded on fear, we may say that fear, known or unknown, is the cause of the trouble. You may mention worry. Worry is an expression of fear and a very common one; so our rule holds. We find that most nervous patients are victims of worry, because they fear some evil. All these fears and negative thoughts may have been acquired through years of wrong thinking, or they may be suggestions from others that the mind has accepted; which is very apt to be the case with nervous children.
So it comes to this: If you are nervous, or if you think that your nerves are on edge and that you are ready to fly to pieces, you are really afraid of some-thing. Your fear reaction to things, people, or conditions starts the train of negative emotions that upsets your subconsciousness, and so causes your troubles. This state should be remedied at once, for if it continues it may lead to serious functional or organic troubles later on. But don’t forget that nervousness is an alibi for fear, and a convenient one for many people, who develop a spell every time they are called upon to make a decision or to do something outside of their ordinary habits. The reason is the fear of doing or deciding, and the nervousness is the excuse furnished by the subconsciousness for not doing what is required.
What will you do for your case of nerves? Medicine is powerless to cure these conditions. Sedative drugs relieve the symptoms, but only by putting the mechanism partially asleep. They do not get at the cause, for no medicine can affect the mind. The conducting apparatus gets the treatment, and this is not at fault. Besides, if too strong drugs are used, or if they are relied on exclusively, a habit may be formed that will be difficult to break. We must get back to the cause.
In recognition of the fact that the real trouble is mental, many forms of psychotherapy have been devised, some of which have shown fair results. But I believe that the best treatment of all is a generous dose of Truth, to be repeated until the habit of correct thinking is well established. In this way we establish control of all things on a firm basis, and the trouble will not return unless the patient returns to his old habits of thought.
Why should you ever lose control of yourself ? You are a child of God, yet you tell me that you cannot stop trembling when you are faced with certain possibilities. Does God tremble? If not, then neither should you. You have somehow separated yourself from Him, and you are thinking weakness, because you fear that you cannot overcome the thing before you. The minute you begin to think weakness all the old fears have their opportunity to attack you, and they make the most of it. Train yourself to think strength, and they will scurry away. The lesson is obvious. Attend to your thoughts. If you let them run riot they will stir the subconsciousness into erratic action, and you will be, as you say, “very nervous.” You must manage your thoughts, or they will manage you.
If you wish to control these outbreaks, realize first of all what you are. It is only in the personal consciousness that you make the mistakes that cause your trouble. Lift yourself above this to the I AM state, and assume control. If you think you cannot do this by yourself, turn it over to Christ, the great I AM within you, and He will give you the power that you need. Call upon Him in your trouble, and He will quiet these inner storms just as He stilled the tempest on the lake when His disciples awakened Him. But you must call.
When He stilled the waves He said to them, “Peace, be still.” Peace is the great treatment for these so-called nervous conditions. Remember that God is peace. He abides in eternal peace. So should you, His child. Claim the peace of God. Claim that it fills every cell and fiber of your body. Claim that you are surrounded by it. It is really everywhere right now, if only you will realize it. Affirming peace will make you know that there is no lack of it anywhere, that the seeming unrest that is troubling you has no true existence. When you let this peace possess you and become a part of you, your nervousness will vanish.
For example: A lady called me on the telephone about one o’clock in the morning.
“Oh, Doctor,” she said plaintively, “I am so nervous that I can’t sleep. I have been walking the floor for an hour. What shall I do ?”
“Go back to bed and go to sleep,” I replied. “There is nothing but God, and He is peace. Think of this: ‘He giveth unto his beloved sleep.’ ”
“I will if you say so,” she answered.
“Go on,” I said. “You will sleep soundly.”
The next day she called me about noon to tell me that she had hardly got into bed before she was asleep, and that she had not waked until ten o’clock. She considered it marvelous, but it was really very simple. The idea that God is peace and that there is nothing but God went home. Her own mind grasped the spoken word in the proper way, and she responded at once. This same method has been used successfully several times.
This is, briefly, the method for handling the immediate outbreak. If we wish to cure the condition, we must go deeper. We know that the basic cause is fear; so we must take steps to get rid of that. Here is where Truth surpasses every other method. We have many affirmations for overcoming this foe, any of which may be used with good results. But we find in the Bible a sovereign recipe bearing the highest guarantees. Perhaps you may remember it. It is this: “Perfect love casteth out fear.” Think this over. It is well worth while, for it is a true remedy.
Perfect love, that all-embracing love which the Master demonstrated, is the direct antidote for fear. It is so strongly positive in all its properties that no trace of fear can exist in its presence. Fear and love cannot be in the same mind at the same time, any more than a room can be both dark and light at once. One is true, the other false, and the lie cannot exist in the presence of the reality. Cultivate this perfect love; then the fear will go, and with them will go the nervousness of which you have been complaining. God is love; so if you fill yourself with love you are filling yourself with God, and He will be manifested as harmony and peace through you.
Dislikes, hatreds, condemnations, intolerance, and the like are due to fear, but they are kept alive by the absence of love. You cannot express these negative ideas if you have real love, for true love does not dislike, hate, or condemn anything. It is tolerant of all people and things as expressions of the one Father of all. Opening the mind to the flow of divine love frees one from all these false ideas, this worthless trash that never brings any good. All negative states vanish before love.
Fear is the real name of the demons that Jesus cast out of the sufferers of His time through the power of His perfect love consciousness. Fear is the one unclean spirit that has always afflicted mankind, and it expresses itself in such a multitude of ways that we sometimes think it is legion. Exorcise this imp and be free. It is only through a knowledge of the truth of Christ in you that you can do this. Turn to Him for help, and He will drive this devil out of you today. He is the way to freedom from all the attacks of this adversary. Follow this way, and you will come into the light where “nerves” are unknown, and where peace reigns eternal.
Use the two steps I have outlined for you. Fill yourself with the peace of God to free yourself from the immediate trouble; then become an open channel for the inflow and outflow of divine love. Let it radiate to everybody, and you will soon find that all nervous troubles have gone.
I am a child of God. I am in full control of my thoughts and of all my affairs. Through Christ I have power over all things.
God is peace. That peace fills every cell, nerve, and fiber of my body. The peace of God surrounds me and fills me. I am at peace; nothing can disturb me. I am not nervous or irritable. I am calm and peaceful, because God is peace.
Divine love fills me and radiates from me to every creature at every instant. I am an active channel for the outflow of divine love. It fills me and rules me in all that I do. This love casts out all fear, and I am free.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.”