The Worry Warrior

Are you a Worry Warrior? Worry is not a useless emotion. I’m pretty sure it isn’t an emotion at all.  It is more of an activity in the mind that comes from an emotion. The emotion it comes from is called fear. Worry is an indicator of the depth of beliefs. It is one of those activities that tends to spiral out of control and grow at alarming rates to produce all sorts of stressful side effects

The things you don’t worry about, you don’t worry about because you have no fear in that area. When there is nothing to fear, there is nothing to worry about so naturally there is no worry. The less worry you have, the less stress and tension you have, and the more attention you pay to the situation at hand. Worry comes into play when underlying fears cause the mind to expect a certain outcome based on previous experience or lack of experience. It is the act of focusing your thoughts on an outcome that you don’t want.

Worry grows with focus. The more we focus on something, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more it seems more of a reality. Before you know it we have the worry sitting right in front of us and it seems very real to us.

What are the things we worry about? We worry about our families and their health and safety.  We worry about our pets and their health and safety. We worry about our friends and their health and safety.  We worry about ourselves and our own health and safety.  We hope we don’t get sick when a flu bug is going around. We hope our kids don’t get sick when they are at school. We start our thoughts with “I hope… “, which is not really hope at all and doesn’t generate a feeling of hope. It is worry.

We worry about the weather. In winter we worry about the snow and storms and will we be able to drive home safely. In summer we worry about the heat and will we get sunburned or sun cancer or dehydrated. All of these things we address with the preface of “I hope…”, which is not really hope at all and doesn’t generate any feelings of hope. It is worry.

We worry about what we will say to someone or what we did say to someone. We worry about what someone said to us. We worry about how we interpreted what someone said to us.  We worry about what others will say or not say. We worry about what others will feel or not feel.

Worry is an activity of the mind that when unleashed, runs wild in the imagination, building the most fantastic story ever told. None of that story is based on fact. The fabric of the story comes from fear-based emotion. Sometimes worry arises as a faint nagging of unease that begs for focus and attention.  Worry begets more worry. More often than not, the thing we are worrying about doesn’t happen at all in the way we were thinking about it.

Someone close to you has a cold and you are worried about their well being and recovery. You start to worry. How did they get it? Are they getting enough nutrients? Is their immune system compromised?  Before you know it, in your mind, you see them contracting some rare incurable disease that permanently incapacitates them. You will have to take care of them for years in a coma. Then they die. Your mind creates how devastated you would be, what the funeral would be like, what people would say to you and how you would handle it bravely or crumbling into despair and depression.  You can’t live without them. You are all alone in the world.

And why does this happen? Because that happened to someone else you knew or heard of?

Have you ever been worried about having said something to someone, and then worried how they took it.  You concocted an entire story line, complete with plot, opinion, results, and repercussions.  You worked yourself up into a state of massive stress and tension. Perhaps you even made yourself sick to your stomach or brought on a migraine.  Then when you finally screw up the courage enough to “deal with the unbearable situation” and confront the other person or to apologize to them, you find that they never gave it another thought. So… was that worth it?

Is worry ever worth it? It is worth extra focus, extra stress, and the results from worry often lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication, and illness.

Once the act of worrying is shifted from focusing on outcomes that are not wanted to a focus on love and caring for the result you do want, the level of stress experience toward the situation will drop significantly. It takes practice to identify when you are starting to worry and replacing those thoughts with those of love and caring. Here are four simple steps, using The OARS Method, you can use right now to start learning how to stop worrying and live a more peaceful, caring, worry free life.

The OARS Method

  1. Observe your own thoughts as you are thinking about a situation that worries you.
  2. Acknowledge that you do have valid concerns in that area.
  3. Release the focus on the thoughts you don’t want
  4. Shift your focus to the loving and caring result that you do want.