Are you a worrier? What do you worry about … your health … the future … pleasing your boss? Perhaps you worry about stretching your money, your time, or losing your job. Or maybe you just worry because it’s a habit.
Statistics say that at least 95% of what one worries about never happens. So consider the amount of time spent worrying that could be used to reduce the “to do” list you’re worried about!
You know, humans are the only living beings that have the capacity to worry. Not only can we imagine the worst, but we can convert that image into physical symptoms. Dr. Charles Mayo said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects the health.”
I read about a talented young woman who dreamed about becoming a doctor and how wonderful it would be to help people heal and save lives. She fantasized about the income she could earn doing what she would love doing. But then she began to worry. She worried about the amount of time it would take to become a doctor and how much it would cost. She vacillated between desire and doubt. As a result she never took the entrance exams and she never achieved her goal. But she did a really good job at dramatizing the old adage, “Worry is like a rocking chair that gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.” If this young woman had used the time she spent worrying to study for her entrance exams and to focus on a positive attitude, things may have come out differently for her.
Worry can be a habit as addictive as chemical abuse. It has no productive purpose or positive quality, and it always creates a negative, downward spiral. Yes, we can have legitimate, real concerns. When something arouses concern it gets our attention and makes us feel uneasy. But here’s how Webster’s Dictionary describes “worry”: “To strangle or choke, to annoy or bother.” Worry is the state of feeling anxious and uneasy about almost anything. It can be obsessive, irrational concern.
When we worry we can strangle the flow of ideas that could help us solve our concerns. It can choke off the flow of peace and well-being. Wayne Dyer remarked “The tragedy about worrying is that we immobilize ourselves in the present moment.”
You might think that worrying helps you prepare for a situation that might happen. But all it really does is glue you to the worst possible scenario. All it really does is strangle your peace of mind and your enjoyment of life.
There are two basic things that all worry has in common: First, you never worry about anything positive, do you? Secondly, worry is always generated by the imagination. So obviously, if you want to obliterate the worry habit you get to focus on what’s positive and use your imagination to create constructive, workable solutions to valid concerns.
The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying, “If there is a solution to a problem there is no need to worry. And, if there is no solution there is no need to worry.”
Take time to notice your unhelpful thoughts. If you catch yourself saying things like, “He worries me to death,” or “I laid awake all night worrying”, or a zillion other expressions of worry-thought that does nothing more than magnify the possibility of a bad outcome, then practice stopping. Just stop. Stop and ask yourself, “Can I do anything about this right now? Is it even within my realm of influence to ever do anything about this?” If the answer is “no”, then why would you waste your precious time worrying? When you can do nothing about something but you insist on worrying about it, you don’t have a worry problem, you’re dealing with a control issue; an addictive demand that insists on something being the way you think it should be. Let it go. Surrender it. Give up the need to be right.
Something else you can do to overcome worry is to ask yourself what you would say to a friend or family member if they were saying the things you are saying with respect to worry, then take your own advice.
If you don’t already know the serenity prayer, it can be a big help when worry comes knocking at your door: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”