Like many people, I’ve had years of my life where I was a chronic worrier. Looking back, all that worrying didn’t help me a bit, and almost always made things worse! So today, here’s five suggestions on how to make sure you don’t fall into Worry’s grasp . . .
1.Most of the things we worry about never end up happening.
When I was in college, a classmate said to me, after knowing me for just a few weeks, “Tom, why do you worry so much about things that never happen?” What he meant was that in the vast majority of cases, the things we worry about never become realities. And, now that it is many years later, I can confirm that he was right. I had made worrying such a habit, such a way of life, that my mind went straight to the worst outcome for everything. My classmate’s advice was a nice slap in the face that told me my approach to life was wrong.
2. Worrying about something doesn’t help or change anything.
In the movie Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks’ character is a lawyer for a Russian spy who is on trial for his life. The spy is upbeat and carefree, and eventually his lack of worrying gets on his lawyer’s nerves. “Don’t you ever worry?”, the lawyer says, to which the spy concisely replies, “Would it help?” Worrying doesn’t change a thing about what is going to happen. So you can be positive or be miserable – that choice is up to you. When you force yourself to think positively, focusing on the good things in your life, that feeling stays with you. And don’t feel “guilty” for being in a good mood.
3. When you worry about things, you give them life.
I am a moderate believer in the Law of Attraction, which I think is depicted a bit too simplistically in popular media, but I am indeed confident that our thoughts and words have an effect on our external conditions. Somehow, the universe hears our worrying and interprets that imagined negative outcome as something that we want. There’s definitely a connection between feeling negative and what starts to come into your life, and worrying is a form of negativity. Whatever you are concerned about, don’t pour fuel on those small flames and turn them into an inferno.
4. Worrying doesn’t make you more prepared.
Most people who worry think it is a way of preparing themselves for the worst. I’m a firm believer in being prepared, and one of my favorite quotes is “If you want peace, prepare for war”. However, worrying is when you invest emotion into being prepared – the emotion of fear. A close friend of mine says that you should never worry about anything for more than an hour. His view, which I agree with, is that after an hour you’ve exhausted all solutions to the problem that you can consciously come up with. If there is indeed a solution, it will come to you when you don’t expect it, e.g. when you are in the shower or walking down the street. The more you worry, the less energy you have, and when you are tired you are definitely not at your best.
5. Imagine you were someone else listening to all your worrying.
This is a great tool to help you shrug off your worries and perhaps even have a laugh at yourself. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is worrying too much? They start to sound unreasonable, and eventually often sound ridiculous. Imagine if someone were listening to you, as you talk about all types of situations which will very likely never happen! What would you say to someone like that? You’d tell them to stop!
So next time you feel the grip of worry closing around you, keep these suggestions in mind, so it can’t get a grip on you.
–By Tom McKinley, author of Winning the Fight to Be Happy and Make the Right Decisions Early.
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