As long as I can remember, I’ve been a worrier. What if? What then? As an adult, my biggest subject of worry has been my kids. Will they be ok? What does it mean if they are struggling? My dad always said this to me: “Andrea, worrying is like riding a rocking horse. You can ride it and ride it and it won’t take you anywhere.” Oh, so true. As a recovering worrier, I ask- is worrying useful? Ever?
In general, worrying keeps you stuck in thoughts that are direction-less. They aren’t really problem-solving thoughts- they are just thoughts that keep your brain spinning in a loop. A good question to ask when you are worrying about something is, “Will continuing to think about this solve the problem?” If the answer is no, put it aside. Trust the process of things working out.
When we step out of worry and into problem-solving mode, we are interested in finding solutions rather than simply beating to death concerns we feel helpless to solve. As I am writing this, I am sitting at an airport in Baltimore. I have a layover in Denver, and then fly to Great Falls where a big snow storm is supposed to hit before we land. The old me would want to know that we will make the connection ok, and that we’ll get home safely (today!!). The new, “less-worried” version of myself isn’t worried at all. It is 100% out of my control so why worry about it? If we get stuck in Denver, so be it. Not a big deal. It relieves so much mental strain to just let go of things that we cannot help.
This weekend is my daughter’s senior prom. Her dress was supposed to be shipped two weeks ago but we found out a few days ago it never got shipped and now it’s too late. Prom is in 3 days and she has no dress. And I’m really not worried. We’ll find a dress. We’ll figure it out. I am not going to waste an ounce of energy being mad at the company, wondering if she’ll not go to prom because she has nothing to wear…I know we will figure something out and she will look beautiful. Why waist energy being negative about it when that will accomplish absolutely nothing toward getting her a dress to wear? The only thing that will help is actually finding a dress. We’re working on it!
The Savior himself had a few things to teach about worry. In Matthew 6:7, He says, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit (18 inches) unto his stature?” He understood (of course!) that we would be inclined to worry and warned us to avoid it. Really, worrying is the opposite of having faith. Faith says, “It will work out.” Worry says, “How??!!” Faith says, “It’s all happening for a reason.” Worry says, “How can this possibly be okay?”
I would be lying if I said I am completely cured from worrying, but as I dig deeper into thought work and shifting my thinking patterns, the more I am releasing the need to worry. It has proven to be completely useless, and often very harmful for me. It can get me so worked up into an anxious tizzy and brings no solutions.
If you are a worrier, next time you find yourself worrying, check in with yourself and make sure you like your reason for worrying. If you don’t, put your adult, “This will work out” hat on, and trust that it really will be ok. Things work out. Worry just prolongs and adds to problems. It never solves them. I love what Mark Twain had to say about worry, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” Don’t waste one more ounce of precious brain space worrying!