Worrying

I worry often, and as many of the people that know me would confirm – I “live in my head” a large part of the time. Overthinking has often made me unnecessarily worried, tired, grumpy and whatnot. In fact worrying can lead to some serious health problems such as stomach and digestion issues, weakening of the immune system, skin conditions such as psoriasis, hearth problems and difficulty sleeping. The most important part about worrying is that it’s in our heads. And that means we have a certain level of control over it – it depends on our perspective and what we have focused on.

My life is full of terrible misfortunes, most of which haven’t occurred.

Analyse the situation honestly. What’s the worst that can happen?

Very often when we worry we actually haven’t sat down to think. To analyse the situation and figure out “what is the problem?”. Why am I worrying about this? We also don’t know the real facts, but have just a skewed perspective based on what someone said or we believe without researching it.

Another interesting and important thing to note is that as humans we believe we are right. It is just the default state for most of us and that is necessary so that we can commit to do things. If we don’t believe we are right in doing them, then we can’t begin. The problem comes when we start worrying – we believe we are right in worrying and also we focus on the facts that prove what we already believe. All this happens on a subconscious level and it can be prevented if we choose to consciously sit down and think.

Ironically, when we worry we do think, but not proactively and analytically. When worrying emotions are the ruler. One way of dealing with that is to pretend you are collecting the facts about the difficulty at hand and imagine you will present them to someone else. Hell, if you wish even tell someone close to you that you want to present them with the issue at hand and show them the facts. As soon as you do that, as soon as you even say things out loud the “mist” of confusion and emotions “evaporates” and you see which assumptions were false or at least weaker. Additionally, if someone else is listening, they can catch the parts you miss or still have a bias for.

In your real or imaginary presentation sit down and write the answers to these questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • What causes it?
  • What are all the possible solutions?
  • What solution do you (the listener) suggest?

After realising the worst, reconcile with yourself to accepting it (if necessary).

There is only one way to happiness and that is to stop worrying about the things beyond our control.
– Epictetus

This is old wisdom and we all know it. It doesn’t mean to accept everything and be inactive, but there are some things that you cannot change, and that’s ok. You have to accept it, to accept that it won’t be perfect, it won’t be on time, it will be difficult and painful and that it is still ok, you can manage it. It’s not you, it is simply how life works.

Remember if you wish this metaphor. The threes in the north do not break under the weight of heavy snow, because they let their branches bend down. If you look at the threes in the south with their branches standing up, when the snow comes early, the weight of the leaves and ice break them or even uproot the whole trunk.

Devote your energy in preventing the worst

Once you have analysed the facts, accepted the things you can’t change it is time to start doing sh*t. It’s not about being sad and worried in the corner, but the previous two parts lay a foundation for a healthy and reasonable next step. Once you know what the worst can be focus all your energy in preventing it. There’s nothing else to do, because if you improve your chances of the worst not happening then every other possible situation will also increase it’s chance of materialising. This provides a single point of focus, hence a much more effective effort and use of your resources.

Summary

As worry is inherent with everyone it is something we need to be aware of and learn how to deal with. Worry is based on our thoughts and the perspective we have of our situation and the world around both of which can be extremely skewed. Even if we are truly in a difficult situation the only steps we can reasonably take to deal with it are: analyse the facts, find out what is the worst that can happen, accept it and start dealing with the things we can improve or try to prevent.

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