Are You a Master at the Art of Worrying?
Worry is a strong trait that runs in my family. My grandma was a master worrier. She would get incredibly anxious when any family or friends were sick or traveling. You always had to call when you got to your destination so she knew you were safe.
I can remember worrying as a kid. What if someone breaks into our house while we’re sleeping? What if the house burns down? What if no one asks me to dance?
I see it in my daughter. Last night she slept on the couch because she was worried there might be wood ticks in her bed since the cat had been sleeping there. (She knew the cat had been sleeping on the couch, too.) She definitely worries a lot about ticks.
I don’t remember where I stumbled upon this message, but it has totally shifted my relationship with worry. Worrying about something won’t stop it from happening.
A few years ago, I read this wonderful and wise quote by Leo Buscaglia,
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
Sure, we can use our worry to take precautions and mitigate the risk of it happening. But after we’ve checked the sheets for ticks and put the cat outside, we have to decide to stop worrying.
Sometimes I find it helpful to have a conversation with myself and question the chances of my worry actually happening. Am I wasting my energy (and losing sleep) for no reason or benefit? Is worrying actually going to change anything? How can I shift my thinking and focus on something else more positive like a favorite memory, something I’m grateful for, or something I’m looking forward to?
I like Mark Twain’s quote,
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
Practicing this approach has made a big difference for me. Now, when I have something in my life that makes me worried, I can more easily put it out of my mind (after I’ve taken any necessary precautions) and shift my thoughts to something more positive.
What worries are sapping your energy? Based on this approach, what would a conversation with yourself about this worry look like?
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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association