Worry comes in many forms. We worry that the kids may be getting sick (right before a family vacation), we worry about how we are perceived by others, and what the e-mail from your boss is all about (curse you e-mail pre-header pop-up!!!). Worry is a constant for everyone (and different from anxiety, which is a whole other level), it is one of the things that is hard-wired into the human psyche because it is a call to action. Without worry our deadlines would likely not be met, bills paid, or precautions taken. Worry can be a healthy thing.
Worry comes in two types; the kind you can do something with and the kind you can’t. Worrying about whether or not you will have relevant skills in the job market 30 years from now is an example of the type of worry you can do nothing about – you have no control over what the job market will look like then. Worrying about whether you’ve got all your figures correctly represented in a presentation you are giving this week is the kind of worry you can do something about. In fact, that kind of worry shows how much you care about your work and your organization, so give yourself a “high-five” for being a good person before putting your head down to double check your work.
The question is not what to do with the worry you can do something with, it’s what to do with all the worry you can do nothing about. The worry that makes itself at home in your mind and isn’t easily dismissed or quieted. The first thing to do with it is name it; worry. Just like that. Then to consider if it is constructive worry (something you can control) or unconstructive worry (something over which you have little to no control). This helps you to apply discernment, leading you to take the action needed to dispel the worry (of note, worry itself is not an action, it is a state of mind). Once you’ve identified something as an unconstructive worry there are a few things to think about. This type of worry doesn’t actually have any benefit, it just sucks energy. And while we are busy worrying away about something we cannot change or control, we are missing out on something else that may be of benefit to us in the present moment. So, ask yourself if worrying about this will help you in any way? If you worry about this now, what is passing you by?
The more often you name your worry, and the more often you examine your unconstructive worry, the better you become at putting it aside and living more in the present moment (it takes practice). The present moment has a lot to offer you, like enjoying your commute (the sunshine, the trees leafing out, or the music on the radio) or a shower/bath (feeling the care you are giving to yourself, the warm water soothing your skin, the smell of your shampoo or the way the bubbles swirl into the drain). It lets your mind rest and be ready for the next call to action when you do need to step back into the arena of life.
Give yourself the break you deserve.
"Worry does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”