How To Stop Worrying and Start Living
Webster’s dictionary defines worry as being distracted or pre-occupied by something unpleasant that could happen in the future. Worry comes from the Old German word “Wurgen” which means to choke or to strangle. Worry can choke or strangle the joy and enthusiasm from your life. Medical research has found abundant evidence that chronic worry is physically harmful to the human body.
Worry is different from problem-solving. When you worry, nothing actually gets resolved. Decisions aren’t made. Plans aren’t formulated. Worry is like being in an endless loop of troubling “what ifs.” Your mind keeps coming back to the same place. Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. A lot of energy is expended, but you don’t go anywhere. Worry robs you of precious time – time you could have spent problem solving, researching or consulting with wise counselors.
To break out of the unproductive worry cycle, interpret your worry as a signal to begin taking constructive action. When you start to worry, switch to asking yourself problem solving questions. Simply ask, “What is the likelihood that what I am worrying about will come true?” Assuming that what I’ve been worry about did come to pass, how would I be affected? What if my worst-case scenario were to arise? What steps would I take to deal with it? The key is to form a plan and begin taking action.
One of the most powerful ways to reduce your worry habit is to spend time in prayer. “Cast all your anxiety on God, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Many people who struggle with worry have been helped by praying the “Serenity Prayer” that was written by Rev. Reinhold Neibuhr many years ago:
God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I personally find this prayer so helpful that I have a copy of it on the wall of my office. The prayer reminds me that some things are out of my control. Rather than worry about “the things that can’t be changed,” I can “let go and let God” and focus on changing the things that are in my circle of influence.