Have you ever had one of those times that worry seemed to be the theme of the day? We all struggle with worry or anxiety. Often, we cannot change the thing we are worried about but we invest much energy, either consciously or unconsciously, in the process. We want and need our mind to slow down and give us a break from our thoughts. We are looking for peace and balance in our lives.
We all know that worrying won’t change the outcome but we still get trapped in the cycle. The worry process can generate much negative energy for us. It can invite us to try to control others’ behaviors or resent them when our needs are not being met. A new process that allows us to work through our worry will benefit us. There is something we can do. Consider the three questions below.
What you are worrying about?
What do you want to happen?
What do you need?
I suggest that you write these three things down when the worry is getting to much. After we identify and write down the specific worry we can move on to what I want to happen; “I want him to stop criticizing me; I want her to return the money I loaned her; I want my kids to do what I tell them to do…” and the list goes on.
Next, what do I need? “I need to feel loved and supported by him; I need her to understand that was money for my own bills and now I am in a bind; I need my kids to listen to me so I don’t have to get angry with them.”
After you have determined the answer to the three questions above, ask yourself another very important question. How much control do I have in this situation? The answer might surprise you. We often have less control than we realize or if we do have some control, we may not be using it in a way to obtain a positive result.
Often our worry is about the actions of others or when they let us down. It can be that we are powerless in a situation and we do not know what to do. Do I have any control over my husband’s critical comments? Do I have any control over another person’s budget or how they spend their money? Do I ultimately have any control over how my children choose to behave?
If you said, “I have no control” over my critical husband you may feel loss and disconnection in the relationship; his criticism may drive additional negativity and resentment. On the other hand, you may feel more hopeful. If you said, “I have 50% of the control because I can talk to him about how I feel, change some things I am doing, or ask him to make changes” then you can work on how you will influence change. The idea is to be realistic about how much control we actually have.
How we perceive the amount of control we have over circumstances or other people will have a direct correlation to how we manage our worries. Do I feel that I have any control over the situation causing my worry? If so, what are my choices now and am I doing everything I can do? If I have no control, am I spending my precious life energy worrying?
Sometimes I reflect on how many times in my life I worried, lost sleep and spent days being fearful or fretful, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, only to find out that the situation was resolved in some way I did not expect. Worry dissipated my energy and left me feeling drained. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is about knowing my limits and using my energy to create more positive outcomes.
Having skills to redirect our thinking, to understand our worries, wants, and needs and how much control we can exert in any given situation can greatly influence our happiness and our relationships with others. We can assess how we are using our energy and modify what we are thinking and doing. We can increase our happiness by managing our thoughts, understanding our options and using our skills in relationships with self and others. By managing our thinking, we increase our happiness and decrease our anxiety.