How to Dial Down the Worry
What do you worry about?
If you haven’t worried about anything this past week, then don’t read this article.
But I’m guessing you have. 🙂 Even the most enlightened and spiritual will find themselves in a state of worry.
We worry about different things. We worry about our daughters, marriage, job, parents, or money.
Your daughter worries just as much as you but over different things. (Even if she acts like she doesn’t care about anything)
She worries about her friends, boyfriend, or no boyfriends. She worries if she’ll make the team or get into the college of her choice.
Worry is an uninvited guest.
You don’t wake up and think I will worry today. It hijacks you when you are driving, taking a shower, or trying to get some work done. It comes unannounced and then it doesn’t want to leave.
Worry eats up all your attention.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are, when you have a worry attack, it consumes all of your thoughts. That’s why you can’t focus and you end up preoccupied, scattered, and in a big fog.
When worry takes over you make stupid mistakes, like going to the grocery store to buy milk, and then you buy everything but the milk.
Worry drains your “I feel good” energy.
Imagine your brain is a computer. Worry is like viruses and adware. When viruses attack your computer everything slows down and you are left staring at the spinning circle.
The same is with worry. You can’t focus on the good things in life, because all your attention is eaten up by worry.
Your thoughts start spinning just like the spinning circle on the computer and your brain freezes up.
Worry robs you of blessings and is contagious.
I remember 2 years ago in January I was leading a retreat an hour outside of Houston. The day before we were going on the retreat, Houston had an unusual freeze. It only freezes in Houston every 5 years. The media was milking this for all its worth. They kept showing accidents on the freeway caused by ice. (Actually, they showed one video of the same accident over and over again.) The news told everyone to stay home. The whole city was worried about the weather. (Anyone living north of Houston would have thought all this worry was ridiculous.)
The women on the retreat called me to see if we were going to cancel the retreat. The worry was contagious and I didn’t want to be responsible for any accidents. After looking at the weather report, (praying) and knowing Houston, I decided to have the retreat. It ended up the roads were fine and there was no ice. The next day the weather warmed up into the 50’s. It was an amazing retreat for these women. We laughed and these women had significant breakthroughs that changed their life.
We could have all missed it. The collective worry could have kept us from an amazing blessing.
4 Ways to turn worry around
1. Name the worry
Worry thoughts spin so fast in our brains it’s hard to know what we are worrying about. These thoughts are like an old fashioned record that gets stuck and plays the same thing over and over again.
Take 5 minutes and write down what you are worrying about. Write everything about it. What are you afraid of now and in the future? How does your worry impact the people you love? Write it all out.
Though this feels counterintuitive this saves you time in the long run.
2. Let your worry plead its case
Give your worry time to plead its case. Here is the secret. Tell your worry I will listen to you one time, now give me your best shot. And then really go for it. Worry. Worry. Worry. Now you are done. You don’t have to worry about this same thing 5 million more times.
3. Now it’s time to cross-examine your worry
After the worry has pleaded its case you are going to cross-examine.
Ask your worry “is this really true?” The worry thought is going to say, “Yes it is true.”
Then you can ask another question, “How likely will that happen?” Yes, bad things happen, but how likely is this going to happen to you? These questions help you take the mountain down to the molehill.
4. Take action
Now that you have a more realistic picture of what you are worried about, ask yourself this question. “What action do I need to take?” Is there something I can do to proactively deal with my worry?” Decide what you are going to do and then let it go.
See, worry is about feeling out of control.
When you decide what you are going to do, the worry calms down because you have taken back the reins.
5. Look for the blessing
Is there a blessing behind your worry?
Here’s how this plays out. You are worried that your daughter won’t do well next year at school and will fail out. Write down every worry that pertains to this worry because these viruses multiply quickly. You ask “is it true that she will fail out of school?” You answer “she could.” Then ask yourself “How likely will that happen? You say she could fail out of Biology and Math but probably will do fine in her other classes. Then you ask yourself “What action can I take.” You decide that you will line up a tutor for next year. You make another decision that you will evaluate how she is doing after the first month of school. Now you don’t have to worry, because you have a plan in place. Ask yourself, “What is the blessing behind the worry? The blessing is when you are not preoccupied, you can enjoy your daughter more.
Ask yourself this question. How would your life be different if you spent one day not worrying? Take a worry break. If you can’t go a whole day without worrying try going one hour. If you can’t go one hour then try going ten minutes. Worry is automatic and habit but with practice, you can start dialing down the worry.