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Raise Your Hand if You Worry

Worry has value in that it prompts us to plan. But when worry overplays its hand, life becomes another thing entirely. Understanding the history of worry and how to effectively manage it can lead to positivity, achievement of goals, and above all--peace.

Raise your hand if you worry. Yep, that’s everyone. Did you notice that I specifically did not qualify that statement? I didn’t specify if you were worrying now, or if your level of worry was insignificant or overwhelming. I simply stated to raise your hand if you worry.

Everyone worries.

How you handle the worry vastly impacts your life.

I’m not an expert, but I will venture a guess that worry is a vestige from when humans had to concern themselves with basic necessities. Like not getting attacked by a pack of wolves, or ensuring enough food stores were gathered to get the village through winter. In this sense, worry is the prompt to properly plan.

Not going into the woods without a way to defend yourself is a plan for marauding wolves. Planting new or additional crops is a plan for when current yields are not sufficient for merciless winters. There is not a need to plan when you are not concerned about something. After all, would you arm yourself against the prospect of cuddly bunnies hopping through the forest? Not likely, because it is not a worry.

At its heart, worry has value. Worry prompts planning, which prompts preservation of life.

The issue is when worry overplays its hand. Instead of prompting you to plan accordingly, it metastasizes, inventing situation after situation, paralyzing our ability to take action. It then feeds on the paralysis and takes over, kind of like if the tour bus manager becomes the lead singer by force. (Nothing against tour bus managers, they just generally shouldn’t become the face of band.) In that vein, worry should not take over our consciousness.

So how can we approach worry in a useful yet measured way?

  1. Identify the immediate or core worry.

  2. Focus on that immediate or core worry, and not the worry of the worry of the worry.

  3. Tell yourself again, focus on the immediate, core worry. Don’t let your thoughts continue to derail.

  4. Now that you’re focused, determine the no-holds-barred, absolute worst-case scenario of that worry.

  5. Figure out how you would handle that worst-case scenario if it manifested.

  6. Plan what steps you need to take to mitigate that worst-case scenario.

  7. Got that in your head? Now, refuse to spend anytime worrying on any other iteration of that worry. You’ve already figured out how to handle the worst-case scenario, so anything less is manageable.

  8. Stop concerning yourself about that immediate, core worry. You already have a plan in place (see #6 above).

Sometimes the worry is the unknown. Maybe it’s a looming medical test. Maybe it’s a fear disguising itself as a worry. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism. When the worry is an unknown, refuse to give it precedence in your daily life until it becomes a known. Worrying in and of itself does not change the situation. Whatever will be, will be. Worrying for the sake of worrying is a never-ending spiral of self-destruction.

See worry for what it is. It is a tool for proper planning that requires you to take appropriate action. The plan and steps may take a single day, or it may take years.

Turn that worry into a goal. Turning a worry into a goal transitions the negative into a positive. Instead of worrying about money, determine a goal that will put you on better financial terms. Instead of worrying about your health, determine a goal to improve your quality of life.

Be at peace with yourself. We are our worst critics, overanalyzing one thing or another. Have you done your best with the resources you had available? Have you conducted yourself in a respectful manner that is considerate of others in your circle? Then be at peace. Your best is good enough.

Managing worry is a life-long process. New worries come, and old worries go. Some stay the same. In closing, I urge you to not allow worry to overplay its hand.

Don’t let Bob the tour bus manager become the lead singer of the band.

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1 Comment

Charlotte A. Cason
Charlotte A. Cason
Feb 05, 2023

You really hit the nail on the head with this article! My 3 children always tell me I worry to much things that may not happen. But I only worry about things that I know could happen and do happen, thus I take steps to not put myself in danger. But you said it so much better than I. Thank you!!!!

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