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Learning to Worry

posted Apr 20, 2011, 3:23 PM by Elizabeth Batson   [ updated May 29, 2011, 11:27 PM ]
When I was in high school, a friend told me, "Worry is like a rocking chair. You spend a lot of energy going back and forth but you never get anywhere." In the years since then, I have had plenty of practice with worry and have learned how to do it (and not do it) better.

For some problems, worry can be useful. Worry helps me plan ahead. Not only does worry help me create an action plan but also a plan B and plan C, just in case. However, eventually I reach a dead end where the worry ties me in knots without generating any productive results. That's when it is time to trot out the serenity prayer: Grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can't and the wisdom to know the difference. (And yes, this is easier said than done!)

Over the years, I have encountered more and more situations that I don't like but can't change. Eventually, I saw the wisdom in accepting reality. No matter what I want, some things are beyond my control. My only choice is how I respond - worry, anger, or acceptance. The universe continues in its path no matter which one I choose, the only difference is how I feel inside. When I get tired of banging my head against reality, I am ready to accept that some things are beyond my control.

Recently I discovered a third option - to accept that sometimes I just need to worry. Acceptance is a nice concept (and easier on the nerves) but if I'm not there, I'm not there. Worrying about my worry is even less productive than just plain worrying. Instead, I try to relax, accept the worry and realize that this too will pass.

If you want help managing your worry, check out the resource page on Worry and Stress.