As 2011 ends and 2012 approaches, it is a time to reflect. Despite the festive season, not all is rosy in the world today. Many of the major powers are facing problems of their own and how they manage will affect the rest of the world. This situation can be a cause for worry because they do not seem to be managing well.
While a little worry makes you cautious and instils prudence, too much worry can cripple you. For much of my life, I was a worrier. When faced with a problem whose outcome mattered to me, I could spend countless hours brooding over the worst-case scenarios.
But worrying alone does not change things. This was a lesson that I took many years to learn. I still worry today, but I no longer do so in excess. Instead, by understanding the nature of worry, I ensure that it does not work against me. How then can you deal with worry in a more effective way?
The Nature of Worry
Under ideal conditions, worry is a useful tool that can help you to attain your goals. When you react in the midst of a crisis, you are unlikely to make the best choices. To worsen matters, you may not be ready to seize the opportunities or to avoid the pitfalls.
Therefore, worry has its uses. It forces you to pause and take stock of a situation instead of charging forward without a clear plan. On the one hand, it makes you more prudent so you are less likely to make mistakes. On the other hand, you are more likely to consider scenarios where things could go wrong and prepare for them.
But in most cases, worry is a bad master. Why is this so? Taken to extremes, worry can paralyze you and prevent you from acting decisively to attain your goals. Therefore, to manage worry well, you need to understand its nature. With this awareness, you will be better able to manage worry in the future.
Worry thrives on uncertainty. For many of us, we crave certainty for things that matter. Uncertainty however, leaves gaps that our minds need to fill. If your mind cannot find answers in reliable facts, it fills those gaps with its own answers. This is usually your mind’s own colourful interpretation of events far removed from reality. But because you are not sure which scenario is real, the uncertainty remains.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to create a measure of certainty. By reflecting on the most likely outcomes, you can prepare to manage them as best as you can. This is after all what you would do if you had certainty about an outcome. By focusing on the solutions instead of the problem, you can manage your worry better.
2. Hopelessness and Despair
Hopelessness and despair fuels worry. The more helpless and hopeless a situation seems, the greater your worry becomes. You feel as if your world is crumbling around you and there seems to be no way to escape. You simply cannot think of a way to turn things around.
Ironically, what you think becomes your reality. The more you allow your despair to control you, the less hope there really is for you. When you despair, you give up the struggle to find a solution. How then can you ever hope to turn things around when you have already given up and resigned yourself to your fate?
So as far as you can, never give up. Change your methods, learn from your mistakes, try new ways, but never give up. Avoid the tendency to develop tunnel vision in the midst of adversity. Try to come up with creative solutions to solve the problems you face. Adaptability is the key. If you cannot think of any ideas on your own, find help and guidance from others. This is how you create hope in seemingly hopeless situations.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
One of the key components of worry is fear. When you wish for an outcome to happen, you fear that things may not turn out the way you want. This causes you to worry excessively about it. You might imagine how bad things will be and make a mountain out of a molehill. Like worry, fear is actually useful in making you cautious and prudent. But often when you allow it to go to extremes, it will cripple you.
Fear is strongest in the dark recesses of your own mind. The more removed from reality it is, the stronger fear becomes. To manage fear it is best to bring it into the open and face it. One way of doing so is to write out what you fear and why. Then you can see for yourself if it is truly valid or not. When you bring your fear into the light, you will see its true size and not the disproportionate one cast by its shadow.
No matter how much you prepare, your control and influence over events is limited. Even so, you should not give up this control. Without even attempting to guide and shape your life, the changes that happen will toss you back and forth. While you may not be able to avoid some misfortunes, there are many that you can avoid with preparation and planning. And to make full use of good fortune, you have to be prepared to seize it with both hands. All this can only happen if you take charge and manage events as far as possible.
What you have to do is to prepare as best as you can for all eventualities. When you are prepared, it does not really matter too greatly even if the outcome is unpleasant. Unless it is something unexpected, you are ready. Once, you have done all that is humanly possible, there are no more regrets on your part. The only thing left to do is to accept the outcome, whatever it may be. Here it helps not to prefer one outcome to another if you can. This will allow you to adapt as needed as events unfold.
One of the obstacles to happiness is worry. Since this is the case, manage worry well and happiness can happen naturally. May 2012 be a wonderful year for you all!
What are your views on worry? How has worry affected your life? How do you manage it? Do share your thoughts and comments below!