When was the last time you heard the expression, “Don’t worry about it”? Maybe someone said it to you or maybe you used it yourself! Worrying is one of those states or pastimes that all of us experience at one point or another. However, some of us seem to be more prone to it than others. I have been thinking about the act of worrying recently, after a conversation with a friend who was worried that her mother was worried about something! Most of us have enough stress in our lives already without bringing worry into the mix, but that may be easier said than done!
Worrying is actually a habit. And it’s interesting that most of the things we worry about have either already happened, thus we no longer have control over them, or they haven’t happened yet and are mere possibilities in the future. But why do we worry in the first place … and what do we worry about? There are no clear answers to those questions as our individual worries may vary from one person to the next. Nevertheless there are some similarities. Let’s look at the breakdown of a study on worry carried out by the late Scottish author and physician A. J. Cronin on his own patients:
Worrying about things that won’t happen: 40%
Worrying about things in the past that can’t be changed: 30%
Health worries: 12%
Miscellaneous, petty worries: 10%
Real, legitimate worries: 8%
It is normal, even encouraged, to be concerned by a problem or situation, and then to actually take steps to deal with or confront it. But the level of futility involved in the worrying of Cronin’s patients is surprising and almost shocking. Consider the first two points: nothing could actually be done to resolve or even appease the worrying 70% of the time! Worrying can actually have a strong affect over us, causing us significant uneasiness or anguish. And when worrying becomes too pronounced or causes us to suffer significant grief, it can result in “burnout” and other stress-related illnesses.
So, how do we get our worrying under control, and better yet, what can be done to stop or abate it in the first place? If you are struggling with certain worries, here are my suggestions. First, take a minute to consider the source behind your worries. Is it something that has actually happened or will happen, or is it simply a “what if” situation? If your concern is real, then evaluate the situation, make a plan and take action. And in the process, I suggest sharing those worries with a friend or loved one to alleviate bearing all of the burden on your own. However, if the issue at hand is simply a “what if” situation, think of three or more positive possibilities rather than imagining worst-case scenarios. After all, positive possibilities are just as likely to happen as negative scenarios! And the former is certainly more agreeable.
“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
Actress, Mary Tyler Moore
Your action for today is to take a chance and call someone you’ve been avoiding calling.
Have an extraordinary day!