Have you ever been unable to sleep because you were thinking about something that was bothering you? Have you ever left your house, drove to the airport, got on a plane and then wondered if you turned off the coffeepot? Something like it?
Worry can wear you down emotionally and physically. There are many ways that you can deal with worry. Some especially effective methods are summarized below.
The Wisdom of the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry. And if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.
His message is to focus on the solution and not the problem. However, when wrongs can’t be righted or circumstances can’t be controlled, one must accept the things they cannot change.
The Logic of Statistics
Many people who have written or spoken about worry have told the statistics story. The earliest source that we could find of the story and most probable author was Thomas S. Kepler, a respected biblical scholar. He wrote about a woman who realized fears were ruining her life. She began to keep track of what was worrying her and she found:
40% of the things she worried about were about things that would never happen.
30% of the things she worried about were about things that had already happened, water under the bridge.
12% of the things she worried about were about others’ opinions and when she thought about it she realized that criticisms are often made by those that are jealous or insecure and therefore unjust criticism is a disguised compliment.
10% of the things she worried about were needless health worries, which made her health worse as she worried.
8% of the things she worried about were “legitimate,” since life has some real problems to meet.
If you consider the above as probable statistics, it would seem that only 8% of the things that you worry about are worth the worry. Next time you are worried about something, perform a check to see if the worry is in a category other then the 8% category and if it is, perhaps logic will help free you from the worry.
“Will This Matter a Year from Now?”
This idea comes from Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Dr Richard Carlson. You ask the question, “will this matter a year from now?”. This provides a check on whether the circumstance that is causing worry is important. More often than not, the situation is not as important as you have made it out to be. Whether it is an argument, a mistake, a lost opportunity, a lost item, a rejection, or a sprained ankle – will it matter in a year from now? If not, the source of worry is probably just one more irrelevant detail in your life.
This approach does not solve problems, but it can put things into perspective. Dr. Carlson says he finds himself laughing at things that he used to take far too seriously and now, rather than using up energy feeling angry and overwhelmed, it can be used spending time with loved ones and creative thinking.
“What is the Worst That Can Possibly Happen?
Dale Carnegie, in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, credits this method to Willis Carrier (the man who invented the air conditioner). You start by asking the question, “What is the worst that can possibly happen? To use an example, assume that in a business setting a mistake has been made which will impact a particular customer. In this example the answer to the question may be: the customer will get very angry, phone to yell and then take their business elsewhere. The next step is to get mentally prepared to accept this worst possible scenario, if necessary. Then, try to improve upon the worst. In this example you might call the customer before they call you, explain the situation, apologize and tell them how much you appreciate their business. Perhaps you could send them some small token of your appreciation (flowers or a cake?) or give them a special price or deal.