At some time or other we all worry about something. Worry is a natural defense mechanism that tells us to “be prepared”. Some people take it to an extreme, to the point where they never feel prepared. Their life centers on “What if…” and the answer they receive is never a positive one. They feel nervous and anxious, with tightened necks, nervous stomachs and sleepless nights. Many excessive worriers turn to medication to cure the symptoms. A better way is to fix the problem. Here are some ways that people have learned to escape the dungeon of excessive worry.
People never worry about what is happening now. They only worry about the future. Since no one can predict the future, we have clear choices. We can realize that the present has no danger and therefore be in the moment and enjoy it. We can change the way we look at something. Changing the way we look at things changes the way we feel about them. A good example is being in an unhealthy relationship. We worry that if it ends “I will be alone.” But instead we can think “if it ends, I can be free to find a healthy relationship and that being alone is better than being unhappy.” Another example is being out of work and looking for a job. Some may worry that “I may never find a job.” Instead we can think, “There are so many jobs out there, I will definitely find one that is right for me.” Both positions may be right but one makes you feel awful and hopeless while the other one makes you feel empowered and optimistic. Which would you choose?
I have a client that is angry at her husband because he doesn’t take care of his health. I suggested she focus on loving and enjoying him now because no one knows what tomorrow can bring. Her response was, “that’s going to be hard!” My response to her was, “what if you’re wrong?” What if it is not hard and, if it is hard, do it anyway.” Hard doesn’t make it impossible, just more of a challenge. Living with worry is hard!!
If you want to stop worrying, here are a few tips from the experts: Dale Carnegie, from his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: “First ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” Realize that you will handle whatever comes whether you worry about it or not. From Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now, is to remind oneself to be in “the present moment.” The idea is that the negative thought process generated by the ego in the mind, can only exist in the past or the future. By reminding ourselves to be in the present moment, that negative thought process cannot affect us.
Learn to eliminate the “what if” pattern and replace it with strategies and solutions. Then, just let it go! You will probably never need those strategies, but they’re already in place if the need arises.
Learn to take slow deep breaths often and focus on the blessings in your life. Focus on what you have not to be grateful for and realize you are happy now and enjoy that feeling NOW!