Should you worry? Four questions
If you’re exhausting yourself with worry and you’re struggling to calm your mind, what can you do about it? For a quick fix, you simply need to ask yourself these four questions:
1. What do you care?
2. How important is it really?
3. Who says you have to do that?
4. What difference does it make what others think?
Let’s take them, briefly, one by one.
What do you care?
You may well be thinking, “Well of course I care!” but do you really? Can you ask yourself what is it that you care about? At the heart of your worrying is there something specific? For example, you may be worried about something your teenager is doing. Concerns about their safety are valid of course, but if it is a piercing or a relationship, are you worrying too much? It may be that your worry stems from the fact that they are growing up and will be setting themselves free in the world. Perhaps the thing you are really worrying about is getting older, or being alone.
Take time to reflect on what it is that you are genuinely fearful of, and then address that specific issue.
How important is it really?
You may get yourself into quite a state about something that isn’t particularly important. The cycle of worry and anxiety feeds itself constantly and before you know it your worrying is out of hand. If you’re feeling panicky because of your worries, stop and take a time-out. How important is what you’re worrying about? Did you spill something on the carpet? Are you worried what your landlord will say? Are your library books late? Is your boss giving you too much to do at work?
Take back control of what it is that is worrying you so much. Have the carpet cleaned. Pay the fine at the library. Say no to your boss, or even better, do what you can in the time that you have and do it well. Let your boss worry about work that cannot be completed in the time they give you. S/he gets paid to worry – you do not.
Who says you have to do things?
The only person putting pressure on you, is you. With practice you can stop caring about other people and set the agenda for your own life. It is not simple to do, it takes work, and you have to be strong and assertive - but only you are in charge of your destiny, and only you can make the changes necessary to prevent the pressure.
It’s your life, you make the decisions!
What difference does it make what others think?
If you worry too much because you’re scared of what other people think of you, it’s time for a reality check. We all judge each other to a greater or lesser extent, and quite frankly it is an unkind thing to do. The antidote to this is to simply not care what other people think. Their opinions should not be valid in your life, especially if you are doing the best job you can of being a human being.
Think of it this way, in the last few weeks of your life, what will matter to you most? Will it be that you had a great time and saw some amazing places? Or will it be that you had your nails done every other week so that someone didn’t judge you? Will it be that you had wonderful experiences with fabulous friends and spent time laughing, singing and dancing? Or that you sided with a bully because you were too scared to stand up to them at the expense of someone else? Will it be the time you spent with your family, or the time you spent in the office or in the traffic?
It is your life. Make your choices on the basis of what makes you happy and proud of yourself. Change what you can change and don’t worry about what you can’t. Life goes on, and one day, you won’t go with it, so live in the here-and-now, and don’t worry about the future.
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