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First of all, I want to start by saying I worry. A lot. For as long as I can remember I listed  worries  instead of counting sheep to go to sleep at night.   As I got older it only got worse.

Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients that suffered from anxiety caused by worry.  Often, they were met with common phrases that others had used with me.  “Why worry when you can pray?" "Worrying about something doesn’t prevent it from happening." "Don’t worry about tomorrow - focus on today." "Keep talking about it”. All of this is true, but it never prevented me from worrying.   In fact, the more I talked about things I worried about, the more I worried.  I would post notes on my mirror and frame cute sayings for my desk so I could see them and share them with others.   And then I worried.

Worrying about our children, finances, relationships, and health issues are things most people tend to focus on and experience some level of anxiety over while searching for solutions.  It can be a signal to make a change or let us know something isn’t right.  Without it, we might not take those steps to take corrective action.

Then there’s the extreme worry that interferes with our quality of life.  That is what I have experienced.   It’s a running joke with my friends that I could be a risk assessor for a major corporation.  It’s exhausting.   Constantly scanning my world trying to predict anything that could possibly go wrong or cause harm to my loved ones takes away from the joy and peace I might otherwise experience.

My reality has been that worry is most closely related to feelings of powerlessness and the inability to prevent harm from coming to those I love.  The more powerless I feel in a situation, the more I try to control and manage it causing more worry and anxiety.

Here’s a classic example.  My daughter is not the best driver in the world.  She manages to get around but it has been a source of worry and anxiety for me for 14 years.  That’s a normal reaction.  Most mothers would be the same way.  But, from 250 miles away, I am certain that if I manage things properly, I can prevent her from any accident on the road.   So, I will follow her on Find Friends.  If I notice her stopped too long or traveling in the left lane too long it is my responsibility to notify her and correct the problem.  I can’t text her because she shouldn’t read texts while driving.   Calling is the best option but that can certainly distract her, too.  But I HAVE to let her know I am worried.   And I HAVE to remind her how to drive safely.  So I call.   “Don’t take your eyes off of the road”, "Don't text", “Don't search for songs”, “Don't forget to get gas”. Then I worry until she arrives safely at her destination. In the meantime, I don’t enjoy the people I am with or the activity I am engaged in.  It’s a physical reaction.

Now, imagine this level of anxiety and worry every day with any situation.  It causes interruption to our sleep, nutrition, and relationships.  It’s like being in a hamster wheel that never stops.   The minute one source of worry is resolved, another one is right there to take its place.

Although I will most likely be someone who worries to extreme, I have found a couple of things that have been really effective and have made a huge difference in recent years.  Before I share, I’d like to make it clear I am talking about worry and anxiety that is able to be redirected.  It’s always good to seek the advice and counsel of a professional therapist who can diagnose and recommend the appropriate level of treatment, which might include medication.

The first thing I had to realize is - I AM NOT GOD.   Seems obvious doesn’t it?  That’s the role I was taking on.   If I warned those around me of any possible danger, they would be ok. If I intervened quickly enough, they would be ok.  If they weren’t ok, then I didn’t do my job.  The only thing I found to remedy this was to dig a lot deeper into seeking and expanding my relationship with my Higher Power.  The more I do this, the more trust I place in that Higher Power to do the job I took on without being qualified.  I like to visualize placing my loved ones in the hands of a loving God.  But I have to do more.  Action is the key to being successful.   So when my daughter is driving, I visualize giving her over to God and then I don’t sit and look at my phone.  Checking every hour  while she’s traveling has been a realistic goal.   I’ve found the more I do this, the easier it gets.

Next, I wonder.  Talking to my mentor and friend one day, I was babbling on about all of the things I worried about.   She listened patiently and when I was finally done she said, “Why don’t you turn the worry into something positive? Instead of saying "I’m worried about …", try saying "I wonder if…”.

Bam.  Just like that my perspective changed. It’s really simple but makes a huge difference.  Knowing that worrying about something doesn’t have the power to release the anxiety can be frustrating.  But what if we turn that worry into a curiosity or a positive thought?  Here are some examples that come to mind:

Instead of “I am worried about my daughter driving at night”, I can say “I wonder if she enjoys the time she spends on the road?” or “I wonder what time she will get home?”

Change  “I worry about my dog getting older and dying" to  "I wonder what I could do today to make my dog happy?”

Replace “I worry about my finances in this difficult economy" with  “I wonder what I could forego this month to make ends meet?”

Applying this simple method not only helps shift our focus to something actionable and positive, it gives us practice on how to redirect our negative thoughts.

It really does work.

Some of us will always be worriers but after making an effort to do this for a considerable length of time, I can honestly say my stress level is down, my thoughts are more positive, and I have more clarity in stressful situations.

Practicing this along with other known solutions such as breath works, grounding exercises, and therapy can greatly reduce our anxiety and worry.

I wonder what would happen if you tried it?

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Nov 10, 2022

Luv this--changing worry to wonder!!! Works great when I’m stressing. So simple but also so effective. I’ll be Passing it on😁

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