Last week, I mentioned that we have a choice to make about worrying. We choose whether or not to worry about something. If you’re a chronic worrier, I suspect you might disagree with that statement and insist that you can’t help it. I’d like to share a couple of ways to help you manage your worries.

Worry is a valid emotion, but sometimes we need to step back and think about the things that concern us.  The key question to ask ourselves is, “What am I worrying about?” Is it something that’s happening right now or is it something that might possibly happen down the track?  If it’s something actually happening now, is there anything you can do about it?  If so, identify what you can do and do it, or note when you’re going to do it.

If there’s nothing you can do about the situation, it is often referred to as a hypothetical worry. An example might help here. A couple of weeks ago, I had an OPG (full mouth x-ray) taken. A few days later I had a phone call from the dentist’s receptionist saying my dentist would like to investigate a couple of spots on the x-ray. I made an appointment to see the dentist as soon as possible (the only thing I could do at that point). Like any normal person, in my mind I went to worst-case scenario.  That’s when my worry went from being a real problem to being a hypothetical worry.  Yes, I could have a major problem, but it was unlikely. All the worrying in the world wasn’t going to change anything and I’d taken the only possible step that I could. Worrying about the situation and dwelling about it was only going to cause me a lot of stress. I had to make a choice to let the worry go.  If the dental situation was problematic, I’d deal with things as they arose. It has taken time to develop the habit of questioning my worries, but it’s well worthwhile practicing it. Excessive worrying can cause a lot of pain and may lead to anxiety in some folk.

How many of the things you worried about last year actually happened?  Be honest with yourself.  I would suggest that the vast majority of them never materialized. If they did, you obviously got through them.  Next week, I’ll share another tool for managing worries.

(By the way: My trip to the dentist went well.  There were no problems. I was so glad I hadn’t wasted a week of my life worrying, however, I do have to confess to feeling a great sense of relief as I left the dental surgery.)

Another great verse from the Bible about worrying comes from John 14:27 where Jesus says – ‘Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’