Some of us will spend countless hours stressing over something or obsessing about an outcome that may or may not even happen. It’s an emotion fueled by fear and worrying is our way of coping. It takes up a lot of time and energy, which are our most precious commodities. It’s time and energy that you will never get back, whether what you are worried about happens or not. Imagine forking over $100 for every hour that you worried about something you can’t control over your lifetime. How much money would you be out? Here’s the double zinger – only 1% of what we worry about happening ever actually happens.
Worrying gives us a false sense of control over a situation we feel powerless in. If we think the problem to death and think of every possible outcome (which is impossible, by the way!) we think we will be prepared for it happening. Even if there’s only a 1% chance of it actually happening. It is a distraction from us focusing on what we can control – which is our response to feeling powerless.
If you find yourself worrying about something you don’t have control over, ask yourself what is making you feel powerless. For example, say you’re worrying about losing your job, you’ve done the best that you can in your position, but your employer is downsizing. If you stay focused on worrying about losing your job, you’re stuck because there’s not much you can do to influence the outcome.
But maybe the real issue behind your worry is that you’re concerned that if you lose your job, you won’t be able to find another job, or that you’re skills aren’t as relevant as they could be. This is good news. These concerns are something that you can work to have some control over. You can start looking for new jobs to see what’s out there. You can reach out to old connections and network. You can take some classes to gain new skills that will make you more marketable to new prospective employers.
By focusing on your own feelings of powerlessness in the situation, you can dig a little deeper. Digging a little deeper will allow you to pinpoint what’s fueling the worry and you can take inventory of what you do have control over in that situation. Then you can focus on the actions you can take that you do have control over to put yourself in the best position possible.
What are you spending time worrying about today that is beyond your control?