Worry can consume you. Some see it as a form of caring but if we look at it closer, it is a form of fear; fear that we cannot control or fix certain situations or that something could go wrong.
Worry has the ability to affect your health. Have you ever heard the expression, “I’m worried sick?” It can actually happen.
I have spent a great deal of my life in a worried state. I believe I have come by it honestly through several generations of worriers. As a child, I am told one of my favorite sayings was, “I’m so worried.“ I’m not sure if I knew then what worrying actually was. I just saw so much of it being done that I thought it was what I was supposed to do.
As an adult I worried about everything; what would or could happen in any given situation; about what my future held; if I would see the end of the world; whether my children would be safe; if we would lose our jobs; if a relative’s illness would end their lives; if it would rain when we had big plans; if the person I just passed on the side of the highway would remain safe; if I would offend someone with something I said; if my friend’s problem had a solution; if people I saw on the news in a tragic situation would recover emotionally; if I would find a solution for a real issue; if someone was mad at me; or if my children would grow up with the values I tried to instill in them. The list could go on and on.
Practical Solutions for Situations Within Our Control
There are many types of realistic problems that may have a solution such as how to pay a bill, how you will meet a work deadline or the how to work out the details of a gathering, etc. These issues require our thoughts but not our worries. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with situations that require a solution:
- Create a time to worry, (or to think) about what you can do to find a solution. Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D wrote an article entitled, “How to Stop Worrying – Self Help for Anxiety Relief,” at HelpGuide.org, in which they state that you should give yourself a time period of approximately 20-30 minutes during the day for which to focus on your issue(s).
- Never dwell on issues at bed time. Be sure to not schedule your solution time too close to bed time, or while you are in bed. This will affect your sleep and you will not have success in solving any problems if you are tired and unable to sleep.
- Write it down in a “solution journal“. If you worry outside of that time period on something that may have a solution, write it down in your journal and return to it during your designated worrying time. This will enable you to free your mind for other things and lessen the anxiety.
- Cross it off your list. When you have a solution, write the solution next to the issue in the journal. Do not cross off the solution but cross off the problem, leaving it visible.
- Review previous issues that you have solved. The next time you have an problem, review what you have previously conquered. Have faith that if you conquered those issues, you can conquer the current one as well. You may even find that you had forgotten what you used to solve a similar issue last time and in review, find your solution written right there in your journal.
How to Reduce Anxiety Over Things You Cannot Control
I think it took a few major events to happen in our lives to realize just how much I worried about things and just how little control I actually had. My oldest son and I were in a car accident where a truck coming in the opposite direction turned in front of us, cutting us off and we hit him, sending us by ambulance to the ER. Five short months later, my youngest son was in the back seat of a car with friends when they collided with a tree, rendering him unable to walk for more than 6 weeks because of a compound fracture to his lower leg. Literally, 5 days after that accident my husband was on his way to work and was struck from behind in traffic by a tow truck. He was out of work for 4 weeks with severe leg injuries as well as several other injuries.
It was during that time when I realized that, yes, I nearly lost ½ my family in one week, all of us in a matter of 5 months. I had absolutely no control over any of those situations. I realized, during that time frame I spent at home caring for them that I would have to make some changes to my thought processes in order to not have a nervous breakdown when anyone left the house and got in a car. I realized that I would need to change my perceptions.
I still have anxiety at times when I get in the car and I still have passing moments of worry when my children leave the house or when there is severe weather pending when my kids are out driving but I take some steps that I hope will help you as they have helped me ease the fear and worry and anxiety over issues I could not control:
- Ask yourself, “Can I control what happens?” The truth is, most of the time, you cannot.
- Ask, “Am I trying to prevent a situation from happening that I do not even know will happen?” For instance, am I preventing my child from leaving with a friend simply because I am worried about what could happen? Be careful of this. It can cause major resentment and end in lies and deception. They often find ways to get what they want without our knowledge.
- Trust in a good outcome and trust in others. Realize the joy people could create for themselves if they did not let the “what if” thoughts stop them. Trust in others that they are there for you and those you worry about.
- Let it go. Change your perception, “In this situation, since I cannot control it, what can I do to enjoy it to it’s fullest?”
- Review situations after they occur. If you are worried about a situation and it’s possible negative outcomes, revisit the situation afterwards or ask someone who was involved in it. See that nothing you were worried about happened. This could prevent you from worrying the next time the same situation occurs.
- Think in a positive light. Be mindful of what you are thinking. If you catch yourself thinking in a negative light, change it immediately before it affects yourself and others. Write it down as stated above and give it to your journal. Do not return to this kind of worry though. Let whatever higher power you believe in deal with it and have faith that it will be handled.
- Do not voice the scenario you are worrying about. I try to remember one of Mark Victor Hansen’s famous quotes on the law of attraction, “what you think about, comes about.” Do not give the universe to opportunity to create your scenario.
- Do not pass your fear or worry on to someone else. If you have a fear about a situation that you cannot control that involves someone else, passing it on to them will not make them be any more careful than what they normally would have been, it will only pass on the irrational feeling to them or make them worry about something they too have no control over or make them worry about you worrying. That truly does not benefit anyone.
These are some examples that I hope will help you when it comes to worry and anxiety. It will be a work in progress. Bookmark the page, print them out, do whatever it takes to refer to them often so they become a habit.
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