Obstacle Busting: Worrying


“Confront obstacles as they appear, don’t waste energy fearing what you may meet in the future.” Isabelle Allende

This quote leapt out at me the first time I read The Kingdom of the Golden Dragon. I am a recovering worry-holic. I know it’s a complete waste of time, as most of the things I worry about never happen. In fact, it’s worse than a complete waste of time because worrying makes life worse. Worrying opens the door to fearfulness which can lead to bad decision making (which gives you more to worry about). Worrying can cause utter paralysis and stop you from moving forward.

Worrying is using your imagination to create things you don’t want – horror stories for your life. Who wants that? And for most of your life, you’ve been dealing with what happens as it happens. You have had to, that’s life. We confront failure, loss, uncertainty, bad outcomes all through life. We deal with them because we have to. I have no reason to doubt that you will continue to do so.

As I’ve got older, I have become more confident, more skilful, wiser, stronger, more optimistic, more positive, have more of a ‘can-do’ attitude, I’ve learned to ask for help, and I take myself even less seriously. Taking all that into account, I could conclude that not only will I continue to overcome all obstacles I might meet in the future, I shall do it with wit, grace and flair. So will you.

“If a problem is fixable, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.” Dalai Lama

Of course, this is very easy for the Dalai Lama to say, not so easy for the worry-wart to do. So it may actually be easier to dive into the worry a little bit and find out what you’re really concerned about. I find writing it out really helpful. Our worries tend to go in an endless loop, so if you actually write down what you’re worrying about, you’ll often find it’s just the same thing over and over again. Then you can ask yourself:

Is there anything you can do about it? If so, do it and stop worrying.

If not, let the worries go. Again, sometimes easier said than done! So if you know there’s nothing you can do and you keep going over and over it in your head, keep writing. Sometimes a solution presents itself; sometimes you just need that release of working through the possibilities and contingencies; sometimes you’ll just realise that you’re going round in an endless loop, and you need to go do something else to distract yourself.

By the way, you can also do this by talking, but be sure to pick the right person to talk to. A fellow worrier will not be helpful, most likely they will give you extra things to worry about. Someone who is the antithesis of a worrier will not help you either. Dismissing someone’s concerns will not make them go away (even if they are ridiculous concerns). Find someone who is sensible, a good listener and has a good dollop of common sense.

If you’ve explored your worries and there’s no solution to be had and you’re still worrying, it’s time for delegation and evasive action. If you’re a believer, delegate to your higher power, your Guardian Angel, your Ancestors, your Guides. If you’re not a believer, hand it over to your higher self. Then go distract yourself. If there’s nothing you can do, carrying on worrying is not going to help the situation or you.

So go do something else – go for a walk, clean out a cupboard, dance your worries away, play a game you have to concentrate on, read a book, watch a film. One of my clients had spent days worrying about a situation they could do nothing about. To distract themselves, they played some card games, and during one game, came up with a great idea of what to do if what they were worrying about came to pass.

Hey presto! The worry was eased. Ironically, said excellent solution wasn’t needed because the thing they were worrying about never came to pass! And isn’t that most often the way?

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality” – Seneca

The moon might hit you on the head. There is no point whatsoever in worrying about it. Don’t let worry paralyse you – take your worries out, look at them, fix them if you can, let them go if you can’t.

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