“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened” - Mark Twain
What Is worry? Worry is a very strong feeling of anxiety. It’s fear of the unknown – the thought that the worst will happen.
We may become overly concerned with future events. We may engage in repetitive negative self-talk with all the worst case scenarios. A lot of our thoughts will begin with …
“If only ….
I would have stayed at home”
I would have said”
I made the opposite decision”
“What if …
I get into a car accident?”
I get fired or laid off?”
My teenager gets pregnant?”
I become ill?”
Worry is a behavior – a habitual way of thinking. If your parents were chronic worriers, chances are you will be too – then you’ll pass it on to your children. Since worry is a habitual behavior, you do have the ability to overcome it – to replace worry with a more positive habit.
What Do We Worry About?
When it comes to worry, studies have shown the following statistics:
40% never happens – so in essence we are wasting our time by worrying.
30% of what we worry about has already happened. Learn to “let go” and forgive yourself and others. You cannot change the past – no one can. Accept it for what it is and go on.
12% are needless worries, such as what someone else thinks about us.
10% are petty and unimportant such as we worry about what’s for dinner, we worry about being late, we worry about what to wear.
8% of what we worry about actually happens. Of this percentage…
4% of our worries that happen are beyond our control. We cannot change the outcome. These worries may include our health, the death of a loved one or an impending natural disaster. Often times the reality of these events are more bearable than the worry.
4% of what we worry about we have some if not all control over the results. Basically I think this is the consequences of our actions or inaction on the problems and challenges we face.
Given these statistics, you may find it worthwhile asking the following questions:
- How many times do we work ourselves into frenzy over a situation that is beyond our control?
- Why do we allow worry to stress us out so much that we become ill?
- Why do we waste our mental energy with worry?
I can’t answer these questions for you. What I can do is offer you techniques to overcome worry. It’s up to you to decide to stop the worry habit.
How Can You Stop or Reduce Your Worries?
“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.” – Mary Hemingway
1. Prepare for the worst – Hope for the best. This comes right from the advice of Dale Carnegie in “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. Accept the worst possible outcome and then take action to improve upon the worst.
2. Get Busy. When you find yourself beginning to worry – get busy on your to-do list. If you don’t have a list – then write one. List your goals and the action steps required to meet them. One of the benefits of your to-do list is you will stop worrying about forgetting something important.
3. Distract Yourself. Call a friend. Read a good book. Watch a funny movie. Take the kids to the park. Take a walk. There’s dozens of things you can do.
4. Get Support. Friends and family can be an excellent source of support. Especially if they will tell you how they see things. Sometimes just talking things out, helps the worry go away.
5. Make a Decision. If you’re worrying about an unresolved personal or business issue – then it’s time to make a decision. Once you decide what to do, you can begin taking steps for the best possible outcome.
6. Confront the Problem Head-On. It’s usually not the problem itself that is causing your worry. It’s usually the anticipation of the problem. How will others be affected or react? Deal with the problem as soon as possible.
7. Practice Relaxing. It is important that you take time to totally relax. Close your eyes take long deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. With each breath tell yourself to relax. It just takes a couple of minutes of this exercise for the tension to leave your body.
8. Listen to CDs. This can be your favorite music, brainwave CDs or behavior modification tapes that are designed to dissolve worry and anxiety. (These do not have to be self-hypnotizing or subliminal – but of course you can choose these types of tapes.)
9. Journal. After writing down everything they are worried about in a journal, most people feel a sense of relief. In writing you may have discovered what you are really afraid of, and then you can objectively work on improving the situation.
10. Take Care of Yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat a healthy diet and exercise. When you nurture your body and mind, it’s easier to put things in perspective. It’s easier to cope with the unexpected.
11. Count Your Blessings. You have a lot to be thankful for. Look around you … We live in a beautiful world. You can be thankful for your health, your family, your mind, your country, your house, your job, your TV or even your microwave!
12. Monitor Your Thoughts. Be aware of your thoughts and be ready to replace worries with positive thoughts. Be prepared with a positive thought or quote, such as “Calmness is the cradle of power” (Josiah Gilbert Holland).
There are many techniques you can use to stop worrying. The important thing is to consistently use them until the new behavior becomes a habit.
Cindy Holbrook manages a blog that focuses on Overcoming Life’s Obstacles. She pulls from her personal experiences as well as through her 15+ years working in social services. Pick up your free e-book “Your Guide to Happiness” when you visit CindySense.com.