Reality Check: Worry Stoppers

“It is within your power to feel better.” That’s according to Dr. Bob Wubbolding, in “A Set of Directions for Putting and Keeping Yourself Together.”

How much power do you have over your feelings? In choice theory, we say that a feeling is part of a whole “package” of behaviour, which includes our thoughts and actions. By changing what you are thinking and doing, you have the power to change your feelings.

What triggers feelings of worry for you? Do you worry about what happened yesterday? Or what might happen tomorrow? Or what people are thinking or saying about you?

Here are three worry-stopper suggestions, somewhat inspired by Dale Carnegie’s classic book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”

1.       “Live in day-tight compartments.” If you worry about the events of yesterday or the potential difficulties of tomorrow, try this: Picture yourself on a train. You’re in the compartment labeled “Today.” The compartment carrying “Yesterday” is behind you; shut that door! The compartment that holds “Tomorrow” is in front, its door can’t be opened yet.

How can this help? Live today. Regardless of whether you’re facing a task, a relationship, or a decision, do your best possible job. Today.

What about tomorrow? Carnegie quotes Montaigne as saying, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.”  Worry is not preparation. Preparation is what you do today, in today’s “compartment,” to prepare for tomorrow.

What about yesterday? If you regret an event of yesterday, then today, in today’s “compartment,” do something toward repair. If you were hurt yesterday, then today, do something toward healing. Today is the only compartment where you can act.

2.       “Sticks and stones…” Remember that old nursery standard, “Words will never hurt me”? If you worry about what other people say or think about you, remember: if you choose to let your happiness depend on whether everyone thinks highly of you, then you’ll never be happy. Why? Because someone, somewhere, will find fault! Even if/when you are perfect!

How can this help? Do a quality job, regardless of what the job is. Treat every person with your best behaviour, regardless of who they are. Do the right thing, to the best of your knowledge and conscience. When you know you are conducting yourself thus, how can it matter what other people think about you?

3.       Reach for relationships. Even when worrying, most of us know that avoiding the people who care about us is not helpful. Yet, it can seem like a good idea at the time! That’s because you’ll never have to answer that annoying question, “How are you doing?” In fact, you don’t have to think about it. (But you do think about it, don’t you?)

As difficult as it is, reach out. Talk to people (not necessarily about your worries.)  Interact. Avoid that trap of isolation that’s so easy to fall into.

As always, try suggestions that look useful to you; ignore the rest. If you try something and it’s effective, keep doing it. If it’s not effective, look for something different. The last word on whether a change is effective is always yours.

Do you have worry stoppers that work for you?

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