Saturday, February 24, 2024

Inner Reflections: Worry Has Absolutely No Value

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“When the neonatologist came to my hospital room and told me that my second daughter had less than a five percent chance of surviving the night… and to “prepare myself,” I didn’t get hysterical. I got on the phone, called my physician brother and found a place to airlift her for surgery half-way across the country. Immediately after her successful surgery, almost 27 hours later, I began crying, couldn’t stop, and finally had to be sedated”. Jann Hoke – “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Writer. Artist. Lawyer.

Live in the Moment. Like everyone else, you cannot predict life’s every turn, so make the most of each moment. Worrying stems from a desire to be in control. We often want to control our environment. Or we may want control over the outcome of every situation. But the more you try to control everything around you, the more anxious you will feel.

It is a vicious cycle to break – worry, try to gain control, fail, and worry again. Repeat.

Worrying about things you cannot control – like the state of the economy, or the election outcome or someone else’s behaviour at home – will drain you of the mental strength you need to be your best. It can also lead to other toxic habits, like blaming yourself too much or micro-managing other people.

Fortunately, you do not have to resign yourself to being a lifelong “worry-wart.” You can take control of your mind and train your brain to think differently.

Here are two things you can do the next time you catch yourself worrying about things you can’t control:

  1. Develop a realistic sense of control.

Identify what is within your control and what is not. For example, one can control ringing the doctor and making an appointment at a chosen time convenient to both; however, you cannot control nor foresee traffic jams that would delay you from getting to the clinic on time. In the workplace, you can give your employees the tools they need to succeed, but you cannot force them to be productive.

When you strike a healthy balance of control, you will see that you can choose your own attitude and behaviour, but you cannot control many external factors.

When you are faced with a problem or experiencing discomfort, ask yourself, “Is this a problem I can solve? Or do I need to change how I feel about the problem?”

If it is within your control, tackle the problem. If it is out of your control, focus on changing your emotional state. Use healthy coping skills, like engaging in a hobby or practicing meditation, to deal with the uncomfortable emotions that get stirred up when things are out of your control. For example, Daughter-in-law issues, Son-in-law issues, handling family can be stressful and could stir up many emotions at times!

  1. Schedule time to worry.

There is no magic trick or special pill that will make you stop worrying right away. There is a psychological trick, however, that can help you contain your worrying. The trick involves scheduling time to worry.

It sounds ridiculous on the surface. But it really works. And there are studies to back it up.

Set aside 15 minutes each day to worry. Mark it on your calendar or add it to your schedule. Make it consistent if you can. Think something like, “I will worry from 7 to 7:15 p.m., every night.” (You might not want to worry right before bedtime though. That might keep you up).

Whenever you catch yourself worrying outside of your time frame, remind yourself it is not time to worry and that you will have plenty of time to think about those worries during your scheduled time.

Once you arrive at your worry time, then worry all you want. Sit and think about all the worries that are outside of your control. You can even write them down if you prefer.

Then, after 15 minutes have passed, tell yourself it is time to get back to your everyday life. Get up and go about your usual business. With consistent practice, research shows you will contain your worries to just fifteen minutes a day. That is a big improvement if you are used to worrying 24/7.

  1. Mentally strong people do not:
  • Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
  • Give Away Their Power
  • Shy Away from Change
  • Waste Energy on Things They Cannot Control
  • Worry About Pleasing Everyone
  • Fear Taking Calculated Risks
  • Dwell on the Past
  • Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
  • Resent Other People’s Success
  • Give Up After the First Failure
  • Fear Alone Time
  • Feel the World Owes Them Anything
  • Expect Immediate Results

Hence, Build Your Mental Muscle! Becoming mentally stronger requires you to have a balanced sense of control. Stop worrying! Do things you have control over. Develop healthy habits. Develop emotions, thoughts and behaviours in ways that set you up for success in life.

This is the key to reaching your greatest potential, regardless of age.

As Christopher Robin (from Winnie the Pooh) said, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Remember, that “Life is a flash of lighting in the dark of night”. Take charge… Why Worry?

Dr Monika Dass
Monika Dass is a Chartered Psychologist, a Chartered Scientist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, UK. A trained pianist and vocalist from the Trinity College of Music, London, Dr Dass has influenced many lives with the joyful learning of music

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