While worry has evolutionary roots in our ability to predict and thus prepare for the future, in its present form it’s actually something we can choose whether or not to acknowledge.
How Much Of Your Life Is Wasted By Worry?
Did you know we spend – on average – anywhere from 5 to 6.5 years of our lives worrying? And did you know that not only does 85% of the stuff we worry about never happen but if/when it does, we tend to handle it okay?
Are you like me in finding this completely ridiculous?
Are you also like me in that you, too, are a worrier?
Worrying is not fun. I worry about my pets, my wife, my family, whether or not I can pay the bills, whether or not I’ll do well on any particular project, terrorism, the state of local, national and world affairs, whether my favorite team will win a game – just about everything (or so it seems). At least once a week I’m kept awake well past bedtime because some worry – usually revolving around the safety or health of my daughter (being a parent multiplies worry in inconceivable ways) – won’t get the heck out of my head and leave me alone.
It’s a hard thing to deal with sometimes. It’s not crippling for me, mind you, but every now and then it can certainly slow my productivity and creativity down. I don’t like that.
Understanding The Roots Of Worry
The thing is, while worry has evolutionary roots in our ability to predict and thus prepare for the future, in its present form it’s actually something we can choose whether or not to acknowledge.
“Sure, Ender, that’s easy to say…”
Yeah, it is. I get that.
But ask yourself:
- Have any of the things I’ve worried about ever come true?
- If anything I’ve ever worried about has come true, was it as terrible as I expected? Was I able to handle it?
- Of the things I’ve worried about in the past, how many of them were/are inevitable? How many of them are anywhere near the realm of my control?
If you keep asking yourself these kinds of questions, it won’t take long for you to see that there’s no benefit in worrying.
“Yeah, but those questions are a little leading, don’t you think?”
And…? That’s kind of the point. Believe it or not, your brain is engineered in such a way that it if it sees something as useless, unnecessary or lacking for benefit, it won’t pay as much attention to it.
You just have to convince it of that. Or, in this case, trick it just a tad.
I don’t expect to be able to remove worry entirely from my life. In some respects, it is necessary. But it doesn’t need to control me, and I’m not going to let it.
When you start to worry, try acknowledging to yourself that that is actually what you are doing. Let your brain know. Ask it some leading questions. Don’t feed the beast.
It might take a while, but you’ll be surprised at the results.
When have you let worry paralyze you or keep you from being productive? What is it you worried about, and did you really need to? When have you felt yourself worrying, but didn’t let it control you? How did you defeat it? What were you able to do as a result? Share your experience below!