Why Your Worries Can Not Change Your Situation. If you find yourself trapped in an unpleasant situation that causes worry and anxiety, it is best to consider what you can do yourself. Think about how you can influence the situation to make it bearable and bearable for you. Perhaps take the old farmer’s wisdom to heart: Change what you can change and let go of what you cannot change.
Don’t give worries power!
What’s the future going to be like? This is a question most people ask themselves at some point in their lives. Having worries and fears about the future in difficult situations is something quite natural.
Currently, many people are worried about their future because of the corona crisis. Some are afraid of contracting the virus; others fear more for their jobs. Having fears is not problematic per se. After all, our fears also protect us.
Those who fear infection are more likely to keep their distance from others. And those who fear for their jobs for whatever reason are already thinking about what they might do after losing their jobs.
But approaching potential problems wisely and with foresight is one thing; getting caught in a worry merry-go-round is quite another.
“No matter how much you worry, you will not be able to prolong your life by a moment.”
Even though it may seem good at first to take precautions and consider every eventuality, we can rarely improve our lives by worrying. On the contrary, today’s worries often rob us of the strength for tomorrow’s challenges and even have a negative effect on our quality of life and mental health. But how do I recognize that worry is taking over my life? And more importantly, what can I do about it?
Why Your Worries Can Not Change Your Situation
When worries ride a merry-go-round with us
We usually notice quite quickly and often instinctively that we worry too much. Nevertheless, we like to tell ourselves that our worrying is still within the realm of the normal. We don’t want to admit that worry is taking control of us and our lives.
To stop self-deception here, it helps to ask yourself four honest questions:
- Is my worrying bringing me closer to solving the problem?
- Does my worrying help me process the issue better emotionally?
- Would there be a downside to just stopping my thoughts and thinking about something else?
- Can I still sleep well and enjoy reasonably carefree nice moments, for example, a delicious meal or my hobby, despite my worries?
If I answer no to all of these questions, I can be relatively sure that I am worrying unnecessarily right now. This does not mean that the problem I am currently facing is small or unimportant. Not at all! But it does indicate that I am currently spinning in circles with my thoughts around this problem – in what is called a worry spinning top.
This somewhat funny term vividly describes what I do to myself emotionally when I worry about the same thing over and over again: I turn my negative thoughts on like a spinning top. And like a humming top, the worry carousel spins faster and faster without me moving from the spot. At best, I feel dizzy.
At such times, there’s only one thing that helps: get out! But that is exactly what is incredibly difficult once the worry spinning top has started to move. So it’s better not to start the spinning top in the first place or to learn how to brake it effectively. Here are some tips from my own life on how to do that.
1. don’t feed the worries!
One thing is clear: the faster the worry carousel has already started to spin, the harder it is to stop it. Therefore, the first and most important tip you can give yourself and others regarding worries is simply this: Don’t worry!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34
In the Bible, we are repeatedly advised not to worry and not to be afraid of the future. It is often said that there are 365 “Do not be afraid” verses in the Bible, one for each day of the year. In fact, God tells us in several situations that he will take care of us and that fears are therefore unnecessary. Why does he do this?
On the one hand, certainly, so that we trust him and do not rely only on our own planning and doing. On the other hand, however, also because worries do not bring us further.
They keep us busy, but they don’t help us solve any problem – present or future. Rather, they gradually eat away at any joy in life.
Why Your Worries Can Not Change Your Situation. Worrying is simply not good for us. Perhaps it helps to realize that this is also a psychological phenomenon: People like to worry because it suggests to their subconscious that they have some control over their own future.
In other words, by worrying, my psyche tries to anticipate possible negative experiences and thus hedge against all future eventualities. This may feel relieving in the short term (“I’m prepared!”), but in the long term, the worry carousel blocks our ability to act, as we become less and less able to engage with anything new.
And as with any other bad habit, there’s only one thing that helps: consciously decide against it. Because one thing is also clear: worrying is deep inside us. And every time we do it again, this habit becomes a little more second nature to us. Therefore, at every turn where there is a reason to worry, we have to decide not to worry.
2. take away the power of worries!
All right, but what if I am already deep in worry? What if it is simply impossible for me to let go of my worries? Even then we can do something and that is to consciously approach the worries.
I have learned something from the principle itself and that is: Worries usually get smaller when we consciously face them. Their power lies in the fact that they attack us in everyday life and we circle around them all the time, while we actually want to do other things else.
What I usually do at times when I am worried about certain situations is to arm myself with a pen and a piece of paper and we wrote down what was bothering me and what options I had for action. This does not get rid of my worries in one fell swoop, but I was now able to do something about my fear of the future.
Of course, there are dangers to this method. Dealing with one’s own worries can, in the worst case, intensify fears, especially when it comes to situations that I myself can do little about. It is also possible that I use the method as an excuse to continue spinning in the worry circle.
Therefore, it helps to write down results. If I write something down, I can always look at it again and know: “I have already thought about that. I don’t need to do that again now.” A confidant can also be a help.
3. Zero in on the delightful!
Taking away the power of worries is something very important. But this can only be achieved if we actually turn our backs on worries after successfully analyzing our problem. Distraction is therefore very important when it comes to combating worries. Distraction, but not repression. If we only push worries away, they will always come back. To prevent this, we have already looked at our worries and analyzed them.
But now that this has been done, the worries no longer have anything to say. This must also become visible in our actions. If my head still wants to circle around the problem, I have to consciously say “Stop!”. No, not only do I have to say it, but I also have to put it into practice in my actions.
If I always have to think about a certain problem when I am lying in bed and want to sleep, often only one thing helps: get up again and do something else. That is usually better than continuing to toss and turn in bed. Stopping the worry spinning top before it picks up too much speed is crucial to prevent worry from taking over my life.
Stopping the worry spiral before it picks up too much speed is crucial to prevent worry from taking over my life.
At first, it may feel like you are running away from your worries. That’s exactly why we usually struggle with such clear stops. But let’s make a review: We know that worry harms us and gets us nowhere. We have faced our fears and designed courses of action. In this situation, there is no, absolutely NO reason to give worries further power over us. So stop them!
The best way to do this is not only to stop our thoughts and actively do something else but to consciously turn to things that are good for us and bring us joy. Some people find it helpful to go for a run to clear their minds. others call a friend or watch their favorite tv series.
The important thing is that we also consciously choose this distraction. And that it is something that does us good and doesn’t just numb us in the short term. Because if we don’t have good methods to distract ourselves from worries sometimes, bad habits will develop that will only harm us further. But if we have good coping strategies, we can deal with worries and fears much more calmly.
If we don’t have good methods to distract ourselves from worries, we will develop bad habits that will only harm us further.
Trapped in the Worry Web?
We realize that we can do something about worries. Nevertheless, we very often fail to do so. Why is that?
I think, on the one hand, it’s because we sometimes like the role of the worrier. Worry encourages self-pity, and self-pity somehow feels good. In the best case, I also receive pity and attention from others. That flatters my soul. So I continue to worry because it gives my soul the attention it is craving.
However, I will eventually annoy others with my worries. And in the end, feeling sorry for myself does me no good either. It makes more sense to look at why I feel so needy and to satisfy my needs instead of continuing to give space to fears.
On the other hand, as already mentioned, we often believe that by worrying we can regain some control over our lives. But this is exactly a fallacy. We are not in control of our lives. If I think I can prepare for all of life’s eventualities by playing out every worst-case scenario in my head, that is simply nonsense.
It makes more sense to realize that I am not in control of my life and to accept that. Instead of clinging to myself and my worries, I can cling to God. He is all-powerful and knows my future. This can give the courage to accept the imponderables of life more calmly.