worry Chronic Worry

I had a lady yesterday tell me she was not in control of her life because “anything could happen at any time.” She talked about being killed in a car accident and gave several other tragic examples. What I learned was this woman was really good at worrying. She could worry about anything or about nothing.

Chronic worry plagues a lot of people. Bruce Van Horn once said, “Worry is using your imagination to create images of things you don’t want to see.” I thought that was an excellent description of worry. We get preoccupied with outcome we do not want. As a result, we constantly fear that outcome actually happening.

Worry Finds Tragedy

Worrying causes us to find negative events when they do not exist. In reality, the future does not exist – at least not yet. I don’t know the percentages, but many of the things we worry about never occur and even those that do are nowhere near as bad as our thoughts were beforehand. If what we believe could happen actually did, none of us would even be alive! Don’t let the improbable capture your focus.

dayspring counseling worryWorry Paralyzes Us

Worrying is often accompanied by helplessness. Like the lady I spoke with, excessive worry causes us to believe our life is not under our control. In reality, most of the things that happen in our lives are consequences of our own actions – good or bad. Believing the worst not only could happen, but is likely to happen, will rob our energy to take action.


Worry Can Be Beaten

Okay. You know excessive worry isn’t good for you. So what do you do about it? Try answering these questions:

1. On a scale of 1 – 100, how realistic is the outcome I expect? For the lady I spoke with yesterday, she decided the likelihood of being killed in a car accident was a 2 on this scale. Be realistic. Do the math if needed. Rate it honestly. You will have a tendency to choose a higher number in order to justify your worry. Check your rating with someone else.

2. Is the number high enough to consider important? Everyone has a different threshold for this. You have to decide yours. But remember that positive outcomes that have the same probability deserve the same attention. For example, if you rate the potential negative outcome a 10 on this scale, you might consider that significant. In doing so, you have to also give positive outcomes of 10 or higher the same weight. You will have a tendency to justify your worry. Fight this tendency. Personally, anything less than a 40 has to be a really gigantic thing for me to pay much attention to it. Your threshold can be different.
3. What can you do to change the outcome? If the answer is “nothing,” your job is finished. Further thought about it will only cause you anxiety. It will not solve the problem. By the way, you cannot just tell yourself, “Don’t think about that.” Find something to grab your attention – a book, a walk, playing with the kids, etc.
4. If you can change the outcome, develop a plan and implement it. Allow your worry to turn into action.
5. Relax. Even if you cannot impact the outcome, your expectation of how bad it will be is probably overblown. After all, you have gotten through life so far. You will get through the next thing, and the next, and the next.


What are some things you do to help you reduce your worry? Leave a comment with your strategies and help others.