Monday, March 29, 2010

THE SHADOW OF WORRY

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” ~ Swedish Proverb

            Definition of worry: To torment oneself with disturbing thoughts. 
          Historical context of the word, worry: to strangle

            We are often plagued with troubles and concerns. The healthy approach is to practice problem solving. The unhealthy thing to do is to worry. All too often we slip into this destructive pattern, tormenting ourselves and allowing a situation or circumstance to strangle us.
            Financial problems, relationship grievances, children worries, job frustrations, health fears, the current political climate, you name it, we have plenty to be concerned about. But we should never worry!
            So what is the answer? I don’t know them all, but the following works for me—most of the time!

·      Tell yourself the truth. Worry plays on the monkey bars of our minds with “what ifs” and “could happens” We play out every horrible scenario, conjure up images, script dialogue, and rehearse it over and over in our imagination. Then if that isn’t bad enough, we create another possibility. When it comes to worry, we are all novelists.  Don’t go there! Stay in the day you are in and tell yourself the truth for that day because we do not know what tomorrow holds.
·      Find the source of your concern. When our house burned in 1995, we took a fire extinguisher course (a little late, don’t ya think?) The instructor started a fire, handed me the extinguisher and I aimed at the flame. He stopped me, turned to the other participants and said I had made a common mistake. I tried to extinguish the problem—the fire—instead of the source of the fire. If I had aimed at the wood, I would put out the fire. Get your mind off the jungle gym and discover the source of your problem. For the times that there is a “niggle” in the back of your mind that annoys you like a pesky fly, but you can’t identify it, write down everything that is bothering you. When I do this, I can identify ALL the things bothering me and I see that things are not nearly as bad as I thought.
·      Get a plan of Action. I had a friend who suffered an autoimmune disease that made her allergic to everything! Even cooking odors sent her into seizures. It started in France while eating seafood. She became deathly ill in the restaurant and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors had no idea what the problem was or what to do. I remarked how frightening that must have been. What she said to me has stayed with me, “Linda, I told myself right off, ‘you need a plan.’ My plan was to get home to the US and I worked the plan.” She went on to say that was how she coped with life since. Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to mitigate the situation?” If you’ve lost your job, do you have a current resume’? Do you need to apologize to anyone? Do you need a second doctor’s opinion and a treatment plan? Is there any way to cut your current expenses to help your budget?
·      Talk to someone you trust who will tell you the truth and give wise counsel. Often times others can identify things we cannot and give suggestions we’ve not thought of.
Being concerned is normal. Problem solving and goal setting is healthy. But as Leo Buscaglia said, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”



      

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