I admit to having a bent to worry, but I've learned to reduce the time I waste on this illogical way of thinking by 95%.
My First Encounter With The Worry Monster
My late grandmother was sweet, kind and a very wise woman... but her ability to effectively eliminate worry was a missing weapon in her arsenal when dealing with life's inevitable ups and downs.
I was 10 years old in 1961 when Hurricane Carla blew right over Port Arthur, Texas, then my hometown. Advanced warnings called for an evacuation, so we left town three days before the storm blew in.
To a 10-year-old, missing school and taking an unplanned vacation is the stuff of dreams and I had the time of my life! Sleeping on cots, staying up all night, exploring new places... it just does not get better!
My grandmother's perception of those events however, was totally flipped and although I was busy enjoying the getaway, I could sense my grandmother's anxiety. She cried 90% of the time, and other family members were always consoling her. She was worried about losing the house she and my grandfather built and owned.
When the storm blew over and the all clear to return was given, she was still crying and praying, "please, please let my house be OK."
Well, fun time was over for me because now we had to drive back home and that meant back to school - YUK!
I vividly remember this next scene: We were 10 blocks away from my grandmother's house and she was an emotional wreck. When we drove within eyesight of her house all of us could see not a shingle was missing and the house was standing. In fact, it looked the same as the day we left.
So what do you think my grandmother did when she saw her unscathed home? She cried harder than ever before! This was all very perplexing to a 'could care less' 10-year-old boy.
Why in the world would she STILL be crying? Unknown to me, all of this was making a subconscious impression on my still worry-free mind.
Plenty To Worry Over
The following scenario plays out across America millions of times every day:
Husband trudges through the front door, spots the mound of mail on the kitchen table.
He rips into the first 3—all bills.
Wife spots the action, sees her husband down in the mouth and asks, "What's wrong?" Husband retorts, "Between taxes, mortgage and all our other bills I'm worried out of my mind how we are ever going to make ends meet!"
Wife reaches for the orange-dyed, plastic mini-bottle, gently pinches a Xanax bar and hands it lovingly to husband. Husband wolfs it down. (End of scenario.)
Wordtracker reveals 101,000,000 results in Google for the word, 'worry'. Jeeeez, there is a lot of worry going around. If YOU were asked to make a list of things to worry about, how many reams of paper could you fill?
Right off the bat I can think of a short list:
The incessant, monthly bills, health, children... I did say short list. But I'm probably somewhat like you; worry is just a part of everyday living, and I do worry!
What Is Worry?
Google did a favor for me and published a "definition collection" for the word, 'worry'. Here it is:
- be worried, concerned, anxious, troubled, or uneasy; "I worry about my job".
- disturb the peace of mind of; afflict with mental agitation or distress; "I cannot sleep--my daughter's health is worrying me".
- concern: be on the mind of; "I worry about the second Germanic consonant shift".
- lacerate by biting; "the dog worried his bone".
- concern: something or someone that causes anxiety.
- a source of unhappiness; "New York traffic is a constant concern"; "it's a major worry".
- touch or rub constantly; "The old man worried his beads".
- a strong feeling of anxiety; "his worry over the prospect of being fired"; "it is not work but worry that kills"; "he wanted to die and end his troubles".
- Worry is an emotion in which a person feels anxious or concerned about a real or imagined issue, ranging from personal issues such as health.
This worry issue is an emotional reaction to something that has not happened. When I finally realized the futility of worry, its ridiculous nature became almost laughable—I know people who worry about not having anything to worry about!
OK, it's obvious worry is totally illogical, so why do we worry? Simply stated, we learn to worry at a very young age from watching our family, friends and acquaintances.
A Hard Habit To Break
Here's the bottom line... worry is a hard habit to break, and I know people who have tried various, mostly unsuccessful methods.
I've seen people use prayer, prescription drugs, street drugs, exercise, religion, confession, meditation, logical thinking, hypnosis, counseling, alcohol, and eating--all to no avail. They all stayed aboard the worry train going to nowhere.
What's the lesson?
Worry is Big Time costly! Mentally step back and take stock of what is lost when you make the decision to worry:
- Healthy, replenishing sleep
- Peace of mind
- Ability to "live in the moment"
- Job mastery
- Flair for using talents
- Joy of helping others
Is It Hopeless?
What if I told you the ability to not worry is only the stuff of dreams? Or, the notion that stopping it is futile so don't even try?
Well, the good news is: You can end this dream-killing, ambition-murdering, work-stopping emotion.
At the beginning of this article, I admitted to having a bent to worry and I still do, but I've learned to reduce the time I waste on this illogical way of thinking by 95%.
Remember the hurricane story? How many hurricane stories could you tell—stories where the ending was in doubt and the resulting climax went your way? I'm betting you can think of 100's if not 1,000's.
There exists no Big Secret to ending worry other than facing this evil imposter, disguised as a normal way of thinking, head-on!
Look at it objectively and truly see how worrying is not only a huge waste of time; it's absurd!
Take the proverbial bull by the horns and rip this beast from your mind... and here are three great ways to do it.
- When you are tempted to worry, think of Mr. Spock of the Starship Enterprise; picture his face and mentally repeat his famous line, "Totally illogical, Captain," or come up with your own similar character or method of dealing with the temptation.
- Mentally shout "STOP!" three times, then ask yourself, "Have I done all I can do to fix this situation?" If the answer is yes, simply watch the negative thoughts float away. Don't ask that question half-heartedly—have a REAL talk with yourself.
- If you've done all you can to fix a problem: If you have given a 110% effort, THEN THE OUTCOME IS TOTALLY OUT OF YOUR HANDS! See that eternal truth and claim it as your new way of worry disposal. It's exactly what I did, and it works very well.
5 Famous Stop Worry Quotations
- 'The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable'
- 'How much pain have cost us the evils that have never happened'
... Thomas Jefferson
- 'I never think of the future - it comes soon enough'
... Albert Einstein
- 'It is not work that kills men, it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more on a man than he can bear. But worry is rust upon the blade. It is not movement that destroys the machinery, but friction'
... Henry Ward Beecher
'Ask yourself this question:
"Will this matter a year from now?" '
... Richard Carlson, writing in Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
If none of the above strike a nerve, do a little online research and find the one that works for you.
Just Don't Do It
Nike's amended slogan makes for good advice when it comes to worry.
Last night, I followed what I thought were instructions from a reliable source that would have enhanced my website's performance. Even though I closely followed every step, my website crashed. Grrrrrrr!!!
Was I angry? As Sarah Palin say once famously said, "you betch'a!"
Did I worry over it? Not one iota. I slept very well last night, thank you.
This final quotation, known as The Serenity Prayer, has been most helpful in my daily quest to lose the worry monster. It reads:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Constant worry is a destroyer; think your way out of doing it and take it very seriously...
Just don't worry about it!
When all else fails, sing it away
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2016 James Ranka
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on September 22, 2016:
Thank you, denise w. anderson for that comment. I agree that worry IS a hard habit to break, but once you are able to see 'the forest for the trees' it's amazing how much better life can be. I hope that just one of these tips can help you. (sincerely!)
Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on September 22, 2016:
I like that last option, if in doubt, sing! Perhaps if I did more of that, I would worry less! These are great tips, and all have worked for me. Unfortunately, like you said, worry is a hard habit to break!