Fear & Other Tough Stuff: worry

Worry is a slippery thing.

On the one hand, it feels like something positive you’re doing. An expression of caring about someone or something.

You worry…

  • your recent graduate will have trouble finding a “real” job.
  • your spouse won’t get the promotion at work.
  • your sibling isn’t taking care of his health.
  • your friend is making a mistake to think about divorce.
  • you won’t be able to keep your clients if you raise your prices.

Of course, you care about your child, your spouse, your sibling, your friend, and your clients.

But worrying isn’t really caring.

Worry is about rehearsing bad outcomes in the future. It’s thinking about worst-case scenarios. It’s awful predictions on a loop in your mind.

There is no point to worry. It serves no purpose. Worry doesn’t change the future. But it does leave its disempowering, exhausting residue all over today.

Because make no mistake: Worrying steals your energy. It tangles your insides and twists your thoughts. It distracts you from the present.

Just imagine the energy drain of always preparing for things to go wrong. Well, not even really preparing. More like anticipating, expecting, and waiting for things to go wrong.

Seeing a threat around every corner is a bleak way to live.

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” —Swedish proverb

Worry also has a sneaky way of making you think you have control—when you don’t.

You don’t control the job market for your recent grad. And worrying won’t change the job-no job outcome. But it will make you kind of crazy while the job hunt is on.

Concern is different from worry.

Because caring and concern don’t run through worst-case scenarios and anticipate bad outcomes. Concern and caring look for ways to support, not fix. Ways to influence, not control.

It’s time to be the boss of worry and put a stop to those nagging, anxious thoughts that spiral in your head.

Here’s my break-the-bad-habit-of-worry challenge: Instead of worrying about all the possible negative “what ifs” you spent more time thinking about all the potential positive “what ifs”?