This week I was tested on the concept of worry. I am so glad to report that I’ve obviously learned the lesson and passed the test. I encountered a situation. What made me most anxious was the amount of uncertainty involved. Uncertainty, for me, means lack of control. I do not like feeling that a situation is outside of my control even though I often realize that it is. But I sat back in this instance and thought “don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry.” It’s funny that when the lesson is clear, all of the answers come clearly. So, here’s what came to me with crystal clear clarity.
No matter what happens in life, worrying is not going to change the situation or the outcome. It will only serve to drain your energy, foster negativity, and possibly cause or contribute to physical malaise or illness. Now I’m not suggesting that we don’t encounter situations in life where one potential outcome is very bad or detrimental. I’m simply suggesting that worrying about it is not the best solution. What should you do instead?
1. Prepare for the worst- Ask yourself a) what’s the worst than can happen? Once you know the answer to that question, ask yourself b)what can I do to repair things if the worst thing occurs? One of the most interesting facts of life is that the worst that can happen rarely does. We worry and we stress thinking about how bad the worst thing will be… and THEN it never occurs. So we have spent days, weeks, months devoting a lot of time, energy, and attention to something that never comes to fruition.
But, in the rare instance that the worst that can happen actually occurs you need to be ready with guns blazing. The diagnosis is what you feared most? You are not able to keep your home? Your family member is guilty of what they’ve been accused of? In the case of a medical diagnosis, worrying is the WORST thing for you. You are in a fight, often times for your life, and you have to be ready for battle. The worst that can happen is that you have the illness but understand that this is NOT the worst thing. You are still ALIVE and now you have to put on your armor, surround yourself with other warriors (at least in spirit) and you have to fight for your life. And trust me, you can not fight and worry at the same time.
2. Recognize what is outside of the realm of your control. Sometimes we worry about things that are outside of our control. Let’s face it. Some of us are professional worriers. We spend our time worrying about other people’s lives, jobs, relationships, children, etc. There are several things that may be in play a)some people need to learn the lesson the hard way or b)”you’re gonna learn today” may be in play. Even our children, whom we always seek to protect, must learn their own lessons. As much as it may hurt us, we have to allow others to follow their own paths and learn their own lessons. Worrying about the outcomes of certain lessons, while perfectly natural, is not going to lesson the pain sometimes involved for the other person nor help. You can only work on orchestrating your life. Let others follow their own paths.
3. Be proactive- instead of sitting around and waiting for the worst that can happen think about what you can do NOW to prevent the worst from happening. Spend your energy there. You have work to do. There really is no time for worry. Make it happen.
Solutions 1 and 3 may seem in direct contrast to one another. I contend that they are not. I’m suggesting that you do whatever is within your power to prevent the worst thing from happening. However, because everything is not always within our control, the worst may happen (or what appears to be the worst at that time). If that occurs then you must go to solution #1. Now that this has occurred what can I do to change the circumstances? There is always something you can do and technically worrying is not DOING anything.
You are blessed with the life you have been given. It is your most precious gift. Don’t spend any time on wasted, fruitless effort. Life is for the living. See everything as a blessing and an opportunity for growth and change. Once you realize the truth of this, you begin to really internalize the notion that there is no need to worry. It’ll be all over in the morning.