Many people believe that worrying will help solve a problem. There is a grain of truth in this.
But, more often than not, worry is the way we try to cope with our fears of the unknown — and of potentially bad outcomes.
Not knowing for sure doesn’t automatically mean that things will turn out badly. It just means we don’t know right now. And worry won’t give us certainty anyway. Besides, the majority of the things we worry about never happen.
The question is: “Does worry work for you or does it make you miserable?”
Productive worry leads to to-do lists of actions we can take, even if the list includes only one solution for each thing we worry about. Unproductive worry is about things we can’t do anything about — and keeps us from enjoying other aspects of our lives.
If you truly can’t do anything to influence the outcome of what you’re worried about, stop worrying about it. It wastes your time and energy. Deal with whatever happens — if and when it happens. For now, focus on the more important things in your life — things that you can do something about.
But, don’t be so quick to decide that you can’t do anything about it. Are you sure?
Focus on the problem and make a To-Do list. For example, if your elderly mother has a serious medical condition that you know little or nothing about:
- Learn as much as possible about the condition. Talk to her doctor. Do research on the Internet — start with MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine. Then visit the websites of related organizations and associations for more information. Study the symptoms and progression of the disease so you can anticipate what might come next.
- For more severe conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart problems, etc., get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in the condition — your family physician is not an expert in conditions like these.
- If she needs surgery, don’t settle for the doctor and hospital that’s most convenient — the best outcomes are usually found in:
- hospitals that perform the procedure most often, and
- doctors who perform the procedure most often.
- Finally, to be more confident that something else won’t catch you by surprise, take a look at our article, From Chaos to Confidence.
Here’s just one example: “Choose a Thyroid Surgeon Who Does Dozens of Operations a Year.”
Remember: The best ways to reduce or get rid of your worry about something is to:
- Learn as much as you can about it, then
- Make a detailed To-Do list that includes who is responsible for doing each item on the list.