Worry Is a Dragon in Your Head

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius

Do you wake up in the morning with no energy? You remember a bill you can’t afford to pay. There are rumors of a layoff where you work. Maybe your kid needs braces, but you have no way to pay for them. Someone you love has serious health issues. You worry about these things.

As the day moves forward, you can’t seem to get motivated to do the things you need to get done let alone those things you would like to do. Maybe you start to wonder why so many bad things may happen.

Incessant uncontrolled worry is exactly the same as living in a constant state of fear. Living in fear will rob you of your energy, your happiness, and your health. Conquering the worry habit isn’t easy, but you can do it. You just need the right tools.

We all worry and sometimes for good reason, however most of the time we worry for no reason whatsoever. We worry about global warming. We worry about failing. We worry about our kids. We worry about the future. We worry about our health and the health of our loved ones. We worry about finances. We worry about what other people think of us.

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. —- Marcus Aurelius

In this post, we’re going to offer tools to help you get out of the worry rut. It took you awhile, probably a long while to get in the worry rut and it’s going to take some time to climb out of it. It isn’t going to happen overnight, so don’t worry about it.

There are two types of worries. Those you can do something about and those you can’t. For instance, if you worry about your adult kids. They are out of your control. The decisions they make right or wrong is up to them. On the other hand, if you worry about being physically unfit, that is a worry you can do something about. What you eat and drink is up to you. How much exercise you get is up to you. Most importantly, what you choose to think about is up to you.

Let’s look at another example that’s a little more complex. Say you worry about losing your job. You might think that whether you keep your job or lose it is exclusively within the control of your boss. That thinking would be correct, so what can you do?

You actually have two good options.

  1. You might think of ways to be more valuable to the company. What new skills can you acquire? What contributions can you make to help the business succeed?
  2. You realize despite your best efforts; the chances are there’s a layoff in your future. Pretend it has already happened. Right now, you’re still employed and though you are worried, you’re not in a state of panic. You can think more clearly about the actions you can take now in preparation for a layoff. Maybe you update your resume or check to see who is hiring.

A single heavy worry is like a dragon working diligently to destroy you from the inside out. If you have many worries, then you have many dragons trying to do the same thing.

At one point in my life, I found myself living in a constant state of worry and had to figure out some way of dealing with it. I didn’t like the idea of using medications unless absolutely necessary. After trying many different types of self-help techniques, I discovered a method that really helps me and maybe it will help you too.

When the worry dragons start to rear their ugly heads, I move them out of me and onto a piece of paper. I put the title “What’s Bugging Me Today” at the top of the paper then I start writing. Every worry I can think of goes on the paper.

When done, I read through what I’ve written. Those worries about which I have the power to do something about suddenly cease to be worries and are converted to action plans.

The worries over which I have no control, such as the actions of my elected officials, I must let go. I do this by focusing on the teachings of people far wiser than me. Nothing is permanent.

A technique used by psychologists to help with anxiety and overwhelm is something called grounding. Grounding will help prevent your mind from falling into the abyss of the past or rocketing into an uncertain future. You might also want to try it if your worries create a lot of anxiety. Grounding is wonderfully simple and effective. It’s a process of bringing you out of your head and into the present moment. The beauty of grounding is that the relief is instant. This is a technique that can be used anywhere at any time.

I found two excellent resources on using the grounding technique:

Someone near and dear to me told me that when her psychologist taught her grounding, it was tremendously helpful. I use it myself, particularly when I’m faced with one of the inevitable hard challenges we all face in life.

I leave you with a final quote from one of my favorite stoic philosophers:

I am an old man and have had many worries, but most have never come to pass. —Marcus Aurelius

Now quit worrying and go have fun and relax.

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