Life keeps us busy with what we need to handle during the day – work, home, relationships, and all those personal worries and problems. I carry around in my head things to do, what happened last night, someone who wasn’t happy with my decision, confusion about a project, funny joke a friend told me and the list goes on.
I bet you head swarms with the many things that need to be done along with worries and problems. Swarm is a good word as I think of bees and their buzzing, and my thoughts are buzzing around in my head.
Worries and problems are two separate issues.
When we think of our worries, we are aligned more with anxiety about something we think will happen, though most of the times never occur. Worrying absorbs so much energy so how can we take control of this habit, because
worrying is a habit.
I know that people who worry, which is many of us, don’t want to recognize this as a simple thing called habit. Instead, we see it as a way to ward off bad things happening to us by being prepared when we worry. Worriers believe the world is not safe so need to continue worrying about any potential problem that may surface.
We may even think this is a way to problem-solve potential issues. Worrying keeps us busy, so we believe we are doing something, but in reality, we are only taking up space in our minds and not doing anything constructive to create a change.
Maybe something you worried about happened, and you feel justified in continuing to worry. If 95% of what we worry about doesn’t ever happen, I think it would be wise of all of us to step back and start to evaluate what we worry about and start letting go of the 95%.
Don’t try to stop worrying with your thoughts, instead write down all the worries and ask yourself about each one:
- Is this worry true?
- If so, then it is a problem
- So how do I handle this problem?
If you need to worry, then pick a specific time of the day, set it aside and worry about all the things that could go wrong. When the time is over, your worrying stops, and then congratulate yourself on taking back your energy. It’s time to move forward and do what needs to be done.
A problem is based on a situation that is not welcomed or potentially harmful, and we need to deal with it. For example:
- Bills need to be paid,
- a project needs to be completed at work,
- need to attend a sick child, so they get better,
- I have no food in the house, and it’s time to go shopping.
The above are everyday problems or situations that occur that require your attention. These are actionable steps.
Other problems require more solution thinking such as how to deal with a co-worker that you are having an issue with, what about not meeting the budget for the month, or a problem with your partner that keeps happening. If you use the worry habit with any of these, you will not do anything to solve it and could potentially exacerbate the issue and make it worse.
Problems require action to solve them, whereas worrying doesn’t need any effort outside of worrying.
So how can you deal with worrying or problems? Here are some ideas you can use to bring into focus all those worries and problems that reside in your mind and create tension and anxiety for you:
- Write down all of your worries (fears) and problems
- Next to each one, decide if it is a worry or a problem. Remember the definitions above of worry and problems.
- Next to that, write down when you first started to think this or were aware of the concern or problem.
- Separate worries from problems
- Look at your problem list and decide which one you are going to tackle now. Start with a small problem so you can build up your skill in solving your problems.
- Brainstorm all of the ways you can solve the problem and don’t think any of them are silly or stupid…just write it down. Be open and don’t edit any idea because that only blocks you from finding a solution to your problem.
I’ve made this list, and it was immensely helpful in clarifying what I can and can’t do. The ‘can do’ are choices, the ‘can’t do’ has to do with life is filled with uncertainty and until I’m sure something is a problem, why do I want to spend my energy on it. I’m working on this habit and hope you do too.
How to Handle Your Worry List
You did create a list of worries and problems. I think when you start working on your problems, you may find that your fears have diminished the more active you are in solutions. Worries keep us busy, so it’s hard to find the energy to solve problems.
You can add to your worry list. I would recommend that you revisit the list regularly to access whether it still needs to be there.
Do you think that you can’t stop worrying? What would happen if you were to do the actions steps above? Would you lose anything by doing it? Have you come up with solutions to handle your worries?
Women’s Group Topics
Women know how to worry as we feel responsible for everything around us. Discuss how worry has helped you solve problems. What worries have materialized and became problems?
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”