What To Worry About? How To Choose?

Up until around 11:00 this morning,  if you had asked me how I was doing I would have said things were pretty good.  But with a combination of a couple issues, I quickly discovered just how stressed I already was.  Without a preexisting stress load I think I would have been fine, but in this case I felt totally deflated, almost sick.  Today’s “crises” were just the proverbial straws that broke the camels back.  And from that moment I have definitely felt like a broken camel!

About what things do people worry?

bills/money/job security, health, popularity, competence, our children, our relationships, issues of injustice in our communities and the world, climate change, time/schedules, keeping up, technology or lack there-of, commitments, failures, love, blog stats, phobias…

The list could go on but I’m sure we are all too aware!  The question is, regardless of the number or nature of our worries what do we do about them?  “Don’t worry, be happy!” was not the phenomenal hit that it was by accident.  It speaks to one of our common issues.  Does that mean that we should just let go of everything and do nothing to manage our stressors?  I hardly think so.

There is the Serenity Prayer; God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. This idea is sound.  If I am not able to change the weather, there is no use in my worrying that it is snowing outside even if it might result in having to make changes to my plans.  It doesn’t let you dodge the responsibility for things like changing your spending habits if you are having money trouble.  It acknowledges our struggle to discern which things we should be responsible for and which are beyond our control, but most importantly it starts with asking for help!  This is not something I will be able to handle on my own, but I have help with me all the time.

Another popular approach to worry is summed up in the expression, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”  In fact Christine and Richard Carlson have written several top-selling books with that title.  This idea could help us with choosing.  Many things in our lives may be irritating, but most things won’t matter even tomorrow, let alone years from now.  My only quibble with this idea is that if you have enough small stuff built up with which you have not bothered it may come from nowhere and knock you to your knees.  It is fine to say don’t sweat it, but that doesn’t actually mean to bottle up your response convincing yourself, as you do, that it doesn’t matter.

Somewhere in the middle there lies the answer.  I know that my situation will work out just as it always does.  I know that I tend to assume how other people will react based on my own tendencies to perfectionism and control.  So here is my plan.  I went out to lunch with a good friend and vented a bit.  Now when I go home tonight I will resist the temptation to curl up in a ball under a blanket and block out the world.  I will spend some time with my daughters, some time with my dog, get supper ready and then spend the evening with my husband.  After that when I do curl up, it won’t be on my own to block out the world, it will be with God who will listen to my prayer for help.

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