– Mark Twain
In today’s world, there are plenty of things to worry about and the list seems to grow everyday. And every day, I meet people in my personal and work activities, who demonstrate through their words and their actions that they spend far too much of their time worrying. What do they worry about? Well that depends on the person, however inevitably their worries fall into one of two catergoris…THINGS I CAN CONTROL and THINGS I CANNOT CONTROL.
Before we delve into these further, let’s define worrying. According to the Websters Dictionary worrying is defined as “To feel or experience distress or anxiety”. The act of worrying is nothing more than a mental and emotional way to cause ourselves unhappiness, stress and anxiety. It is bad for our health and wellness and leads to a great many physical and emotional illnesses.
1) Things I cannot control
If you find yourself spending any time at all worrying about things that you have no control over in your life, you need to STOP NOW. By definition, you have no control over these things and whether they happen or not, hence worrying about them is accomplishing nothing positive in your life. Let’s face it, from time to time circumstances or events will occur that will be of an unpleasant nature. Tragedy and misfortune are a part of life.
“Sunny days wouldn’t be special, if it wasn’t for rain
Joy wouldn’t feel so good, if it wasn’t for pain”
Being prepared for the inevitable rainy day is always a great idea. Take a few minutes to plan and prepare for things that may concern you. If you live in a an If you live in an area where natural disasters may occur, stock up on items that would be useful if one takes place. An ounce of prevention is equaled to a pound of cure. However, after you have done this, do not spend another second of your life worrying about whether this tragic event will or will not take place. The time you spend worrying will only add negative energy into your life, and take away from the time you should be spending focusing on the wonderful things you do have.
2) Things I can control
I have a friend, who everytime we meet up, talks about his difficulty making ends meet. We live in a world where a great many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes, in the absence of a solid financial plan, paying the bills can be a challenge. Even with a plan, as the cost of living rises faster than our salaries, we should be regularly examining our plan to see if yesterday’s plan meets todays needs. So as I sit and listen to my friend, I asked him a simply question. “You seem worried about money. How is that working for you?” He replied not so well. Here was my advice to him. I told him I wanted him to book an appointment with his wife for a couple of hours within the next few days, and schedule a time to sit down and look at his plan. I then added that I wanted him to set up a weekly appointment time, one that must be kept, to discuss the financial needs and challenges they faced. I then finished by asking that he not think about his money problems for one second outside of this regularly scheduled time. Nowhere in the Websters Dictionary does it say “Worrying: A proven technique to resolving ones problems” All it does is lead to more problems. Follow this step by step analogy of exactly how this happens.
Step 1 – The decision to worry
Worrying is something we choose to do. It is not forced upon us. Worrying is a conscious decision to focus on a negative part of our lives. We choose to spend time thinking about these issues that worry us.
Step 2 – Thoughts lead to emotions
These thoughts directly drive our emotions. These emotions consist of fear and anger amongst others. These emotions can be described as that knot in your stomache, and they manifest themselves into physical symptoms such as headaches and nausea. Hence the term “Worried sick”.
Step 3 – Emotions lead to actions
These emotions and the physical symptoms they produce directly lead to our actions. Whether you are someone that smokes when stressed, pops pain killers to deal with the headaches, takes a sick day from that ulcer that is acting up, eats junk food to feel better or drinks to escape, these emotions are directly related to whatever coping mechanism we use.
Step 4 – Actions lead to results
Actions based on negative emotions such as fear and anger give us negative results in our lives. When sick we do not excel at our jobs or our lives. When drinking or on pain medication or sleeping in we are not putting out that effort that is needed to accomplish great things…our results are directly impacted by our actions and negative actions will lead to negative results.
Step 5 – Negative reults lead to more worry and more negative thoughts
This cycle is nothing short of toxic and it consumes us and drags us into a rut. When we perform badly due to the fact that we spent all of our time worrying about our problems instead of doing something about them in a productive manner, we will produce nothing more than MORE WORRIES.
The good news is that this cycle of worry and fear and anger and resentment does not have to continue. You can choose TODAY to make positive change in your lives, by choosing NOT to worry. Instead, book an appointment with yourself and your loved to sit down and discuss in a constructive manner how to solve this problem. The amount of time and frequency of sit downs will depend on the scope of the issue itself. Outside of that scheduled time, spend NO TIME OR ENERGY thinking about this problem. Replace these negative thoughts with positive ones and experience the exact opposite cycle in your life; where positive thoughts lead to positive emotions and positive actions and positive results and more positive thoughts. Find something you love, be it your children, a family pet or your favorite hobby and focus instead on things that put a smile on your face.
When we choose to stop worrying and stop focusing on the negative things in our lives, we unlock the power of positive thinking, and with this power, we can overcome any obstacles and begin that process of positive change in our life.