A man interviewing for a job found himself in the presence of a nervous, fidgety factory owner who looked anxious, gloomy, and grouchy. “The only vacancy here,” he told the applicant, “is a Vice President position; and the person who takes that job must shoulder all my cares.” “That’s a tough job,” said the applicant, “What’s the salary?” The factory owner replied, “I’ll pay you a million a year if you’ll take on all my worries.” “Done! I’ll take the job” the applicant said, “When will I get paid?” “That my boy,” answered the owner, “is your first worry.”
With all the effort and energy needed to worry, it’s unfortunate that worry doesn’t work. I wish it did. For many of us worrying is like a second job. It would be nice to get some compensation for all those hours spent losing sleep. Regrettably, its benefits are zilch, nadda, zip. There are no benefits for worrying, but there are plenty of consequences to add to a worried soul: insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, tummy disorders, cardiac conditions, increased illness, and a shortened life-span. Worry seems to keep our adrenaline churning and that’s not a good thing.
In confronting problems, worry is a dysfunctional strategy; not to mention a complete waste of time. When we worry, we’re not thinking, we’re feeling. We’re feeling fear from “what if’s.” When we worry, we usually don’t make sense because our feelings are irrational and reactive. We’re not problem-solving or coping, we’re obsessing, we’re ruminating. It’s like the mouse frantically running on and on, faster and faster on its tread wheel–all strung out, frazzled and going nowhere.
Worry starts to brew when efforts to maintain control of our lives are met with resistance, unexpected circumstances, or the on-going stress of employment. A need to stay in control creates a variety of worry because we fear our problems can’t be solved, and then what? Add to that any rigid thinking, unrealistic expectations, and impatience, and it’s no wonder we’re worry warts. Rather than respond to situations, worriers react with feelings that assume the worse case scenario.
The good news about worry is that it can be tamed. The first step is a willingness to let go of all that negative turmoil in your head. If you’re ready, this practice will remove worry from your life.
First, get a notebook–size 8×10″. Using the notebook forces you to look at your worries with a much more objective eye than you’re used to. It makes you an observer of your own life and you’re able to distance yourself from intrusive thoughts. On the first page write Worry #1 and give it a date. Now write down the worry. Example: I’m worried my car will not survive much longer.
After writing Worry #1, in your notebook provide the answers to these questions: When do you worry about this situation? What scares you? Why does it make you nervous? Why is it a problem? What is out of your control about it? What are you afraid will happen? What will it mean if it did happen? It doesn’t matter whether your answer to each question fills several pages or half a line. What’s important is that you write it down.
Your next entry is Possibilities and Options, and represents what you think is possible action to resolve the problem and thus end the worry about the situation. Here is where you problem-solve, brainstorm, and get things in perspective. Here is where you THINK, not feel. Be objective. Be reasonable. Write down the facts.
The last entry is People To Consult and Outcome. Here you write down supportive individuals that you can contact to assist in sorting out your options. These people are not on the list to rescue you or fix the problem for you. Their assistance ought to be geared to keep you focused on the facts. Remember that something based on a “maybe” or a “might be” is a myth, not fact. Something based on an assumption is also a myth, not a fact. Problem-solving is seeking solutions based on the facts. Write down possible solutions or steps necessary to obtain more facts before making a decision. Sometimes the end result will be out of your control and will require you to “let it go.”
Every time you’re worried about something or mind-boggled about “what if’s” enter it in your Worry Book and complete the four entries. This will help you avoid the emotional worried state of “worst case scenario” where many worriers go first, and stay. If you really want to remove worry from your life, you’ll commit to using your Worry Book. It works! Sleep at last!
Think about it. In caring, Sandy
©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net