3 Steps to Overcome Worry and Find Peace

Depression In Young Age

It’s possible to find peace.

I have a small admission to make.

I tend to worry a lot.

No, I’m not a chronic worrier that sweats the small stuff, like if my favorite brand of green tea is in stock at the grocery store, or if my favorite wide-receiver will be available in my fantasy football draft.

I worry about if I’m being the best father that I can possibly be for my little girls. I worry about whether or not this blog is making a meaningful difference in anyone’s life. I worry about if I’m making the best choices on a daily basis to improve my physical, emotional and mental health.

A few years ago, these worries would eat me alive every waking moment of my life. Thankfully, those days are over. Things are very different in my life now, and I have these two simple, life-changing epiphanies to thank for it:

1) Worrying serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

2) I have complete control to ensure that worrying doesn’t control my life and mess with my inner peace.

I know that I will probably never stop worrying, but I always have the power to determine the influence that my worries will have over my life.

This is a game-changing concept, and if you struggle with excessive worrying, hopefully this blog post will help.

The Uselessness of Worrying

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Excessive worrying, just like chronic complaining, is one of the most unhealthy and destructive habits we can engage in if we sincerely care about living a positive life.

Unlike chronic complaining where everyone is pretty much onboard about its uselessness, there are some people out there who think that excessive worrying has a positive purpose. It’s as if they believe that by constantly dwelling on potential disasters, they will be better equipped to deal with those disasters if/when they come.

Speaking from experience, it doesn’t work that way.

Worrying is like borrowing potential pain from the future just so you can repeatedly experience it in the present moment. It doesn’t help you deal with the challenges of life, it adds to them.

Some of the health-related side-effects of excessive worrying are sleeplessness, ulcers, a depressed immune system, increased blood pressure, a decent into dangerous addictions (e.g., alcoholism, drug abuse, over-eating, etc.) and a lot of other horrific things that are probably a lot worse than whatever it is that you’re worrying about in the first place.

Worst of all–when has excessively worrying about a problem actually played a role in solving that problem?

It was trying to answer that simple question that woke me up to the realization that worrying is completely useless in every way.

But let’s refocus here. I highly doubt that you’re reading this in hopes of battling me on the life-enhancing awesomeness of excessive worrying.

Chances are that you’re fully aware that worrying is not a good thing, and you want some help in not letting it control your life anymore.

If so, here are three steps that worked for me.

1. Break it Down

Two weeks ago, I lost my cell phone.

Anyone who has ever lost their cell phone will know how helpless it makes you feel.

You can’t be in immediate contact with your family if there was an emergency. Some random person could get a hold of it and start looking through your private texts and photos. Who knows? Maybe it could fall into the hands of a hacker who could access your bank account information and completely wipe out your life savings.

There was so much to worry about!

But wait a second.

Instead of tumbling down the dark vortex of worry and despair, I could make another choice. Instead of getting irrational, I could get purposefully rational and really break down the situation like the sane positivity blogger that I claim to be.

I won’t be able to be in contact with my family if there was an emergency! Well, I do have a work phone, and my wife and my daughters’ school have that phone number. If there was an emergency that happened while my phone is missing, they’ll easily be able to get a hold of me.

Someone could start going through my texts and pictures! My phone is locked, so I’m good. Even if it wasn’t unlocked for some reason, the lucky guy/gal who finds my cell phone won’t find anything too salacious in it (sorry, TMZ.)

Some world-class hacker could break into my phone and wipe out my bank account savings and leave my family out on the street begging for scraps of food to survive! Okay, I need to get a grip. There isn’t a sinister hacker who is maniacally twirling his mustache as he’s breaking into my cell phone and draining my bank account. Remember, there are way more good people in this world than bad people, right? Someone will find it and return it to me.

And guess what? It was found in my daughter’s 1st grade classroom (I accidentally left it there during the morning drop-off), and it was waiting there when my wife went to go pick her up that afternoon.

I honestly believe that the overwhelming majority of stress that we put ourselves through is completely unnecessary and self-created.

Excessive worrying is a habit, and just like any bad habit, it can be broken. One of the easiest ways to do that is to consistently break down the details of what you are worried about, and usually you’ll find that your worries can’t stand up to the power of rational thought.

But what if you’re worried about something more important than a lost cell phone?

Read on.

2. Meaningful Action

There is someone very close in my life who is dealing with an extremely serious health issue (out of respect for his privacy, I’d rather not say who he is.)

Admittedly, I’m very worried about him, and I worry often if he will be able to beat this illness.

But once I get to the point where my worries about him are starting to take over my life, and I’ve already purposefully broke down my worries, then I have to focus my attention on answering one simple question:

What can I do to make this situation better?

There will be many times when it is tempting to say “nothing,” but there is almost always something that we can do.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t heal him. Here’s what I can do:

  • I can lift his spirits whenever I talk to him
  • I can send him love, prayers, and positive vibes on a daily basis
  • I can relieve some of his excess stress by helping him with some of his responsibilities at home

The key is to take meaningful action.

I’m not talking about keeping busy by doing mindless stuff in order to keep your mind off of what you’re worried about. This is about taking action to make the situation that you’re worried about better. Even if it’s only a little bit better.

There is something powerful about knowing that you are doing everything that you can to improve the situation. For me, it helps to bring me peace because I know that my actions are helping to make a very negative situation a little more positive.

And that’s something that worrying is unable to do.

3. Faith over Worry

Can you predict the future?

That’s okay, neither can I.

So, since we’re all working with incomplete information, we have a critical choice when it comes to the less-than-positive situations in our lives. We can either:

A) Worry that the situation is not going to work out.

B) Have faith that it will (or that it could) work out.

If you are prone to worrying like I am, consistently choosing B will take lots of practice. You didn’t become an excessive worrier overnight, so you won’t be able to fix it that quickly either. This is going to require a commitment, and only the serious need apply.

Whenever worry creeps into my life and I wonder if I’m being the best daddy I can be to my little girls, the best blogger I can be for you, or the best human being that I can be for this world, I stop and do three simple things:

1) Break down if my worries are rational or not

2) Take action and do the absolute best that I can to make the situation better

3) Have faith that what I’m doing will be good enough

Outside of that, there’s nothing else that you or I can do. 

Does that thought bring you stress or bring you peace?

Only you can answer that.

Your Turn

Do you feel that you worry excessively? What strategies have you used to overcome worrying in order to find peace? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

Latest posts by Shola (see all)

Comments

  1. Interestingly, I don’t worry or stress about big things. I handle really big issues (come on, I have three teens, two of whom are on the autism spectrum and one of whom is transgender) quite well. They don’t stress or worry me. I give full credit for that to my faith. God’s got this. That’s what I tell myself and it gives me complete peace and confidence in the big things working out.

    Little things, however, are different. And it’s funny, because in my head I KNOW God has those too. But I guess it is my brain’s way of finding something to fuss over. 😛

    So, am I going to get the car payment mailed out on time? That keeps me awake.
    Is my 16 year old autistic kid going to be okay in school this year with AP classes? no worries what so ever!
    Did I confirm that appointment for later this week? fretting…
    Will my mom recover from the stroke she had last week? no worries… God’s got this.

    So yeah, that’s my admission. I don’t worry about big things, but it’s the little things I need to be aware of. And when I find myself worrying over them, I tell my husband and he calmly reminds me that it will all work out. (The man is a 911 dispatcher…he was well trained to be married to me!)

    Happy Monday, Shola! No more worrying!

    Kathy

    • That is fascinating, Kathy! To effectively deal with life’s big stresses is a gift, and many of us could learn from your example (I know that I could!) The good news is that if you can handle the big stuff like a champ, then you are already built to deal with the small stuff too :). Most importantly, in the end, your husband is right–everything usually works out in the end. The key is remembering that.

  2. Hiteshkumar says:

    We can make our subconscious mind powerful with positive suggestion , and we can be strong day by day;
    Of course we need to change our lifestyle too..

  3. Hi Shola,

    Wow, am I glad to have found your website! For the past day, I have learned so much from reading your blog posts, and today’s newsletter (my first) was definitely helpful, as I am a big worry wart. I am not sure when or rather “what” caused me to stress so much, but one thing is for sure: it DOES wreck havoc on your health. It’s exhausting, trying to worry over to-do lists and lagging productivity or beating yourself up for dumb stuff that those EXTREMELY-difficult-people-in-your-life (I love your definitive guide man!) have said/done.

    So, I finally had a breakdown (which to be honest, was hard to admit) during my sophomore year at university. The diagnosis? Adrenal fatigue. See, my passion is natural/holistic health, and from my research on the topic, my constant stress and sluggish brain and body were strongly correlated; as well as the fact that, yeah I needed to take a breather from school (what person in their right mind would take summer school right after highschool and then take 18 units for fall semester, then have a full load again in spring, then take summer school again? And how could they expect to do well in fall with another full schedule:)

    On my quest to change my troubled destiny, I took a semester off and tried various methods to heal myself: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I addressed the unnecessary and unwelcome baggage I had been carrying for my whole 20 years of life by letting go of and accepting my past (basically anything negative I was holding on to). I also realized and was inspired by the idea to simplify my life via minimalism-the intentional promotion of our greatest passions and the removal of everything that distracts us from them. I purged my room (lol, I am kind of a hoarder-probably a factor in the chaos in my life), by giving away, recycling, and throwing away those things that didn’t bring me happiness and positivity…lots of clothes and material items as well as books were donated/sold for charity. After this I went to pilgrimage-to make Ummrah in Mecca/Medina-which was an AMAZING blessed experience. I really got a sense of just how unique and interesting we all are through meeting and seeing such a diverse group of people come together as one (yet also so alone) for God…just a very humbling experience. I also worked out more and cleaned my diet-a healthy body is a very important ally if you want to combat negativity! I got engaged to my wonderful fiancé and that helped ease some stress-love truly makes to world go round. Furthermore I made a vision board to help look at the positive things to come in my future, and visually plan out my goals. Lastly, and probably more useful directly to anyone who stuck with reading my long ass comment-would be to take adaptogenic herbs or useful spices such as Ginseng, Brahmi, Liqorice, Fo-ti, Fenugreek etc. to help you balance and recalibrate your weak and abused kidneys/adrenals if you had fatigue like me. Honestly, I never understood how calming drinking tea could be-and how healing!

    In the end, I learned that the tips you provided works! I tried simplifying things down, took charge of my life, and had lots of faith in God’s plan and tests for me as well as confidence in my pursuit of happiness…I want to live a life that matters.
    -Abraham

    Also, sorry about your loss…I didn’t really know how special or who Dr. Dyer was until yesterday (ironically/unfortunately) while reading your guide to deal w/ difficult ppl and his quote stuck out-“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer
    May he rest in peace.

    To leave you with a positive note though, I am excited that you will be speaking for UC Merced at our Leadership conference-I can’t wait to meet you Shola and thank you for your help/kindness:)

    • Hi Abraham! I read all your post carefully and drew a smile in my face. I also believe in simplicity. Sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday activities that we forget to look up, admire the sky and think that God has a plan for all of us. Good job in cleaning your room, I did that some months ago and threw everything that gave me bad memories and made me unhappy, I started anew and fresh. I believe that in order to be truly happy, your place needs to be cleaned enough for you to be happy and feel secure. Glad you got to find your inner peace! I think that’s the goal of life: to live it to the fullest and in peace.

      Take care and keep being positive!

    • Welcome aboard Abraham, it’s a pleasure to e-meet you and thanks for being a part of the Solution! I happily read every word of your “long ass comment,” and I deeply appreciate the realness that you shared. Since I’ve spent twice as many years on this earth than you have, I feel super confident telling you that you are so advanced for your age. I was in my 30’s until I developed the intelligence and the willingness to embrace self-improvement that you have possess right now. Vision boards, healthy eating, minimalism–all of those things were foreign concepts to me until recently! Seriously my man, you are definitely on the right path and you have little to worry about :).

      I’m excited to meet you at Merced in a few short weeks! Please make sure to personally say hi while I’m there!

  4. Shola, I had not heard that Dr. Dyer passed. He was a great man who impacted so many people. Thank you for sharing and I am sorry for you to lose such an inspirational figure.

    As for worrying, I used to be quite a worrier, but that was also when I felt that I was powerless, and that life (mostly bad things) were bound to happen to me, and I would get knocked down again. I’ve gotten better about all that, much better. I take responsibility for myself and my life, knowing that I do not have control. I make the best of it, and “roll with the punches”. One thing I noticed, when I worried, the stuff I worried about usually never happened, or was insignificant. But then other stuff I never thought of would happen and blow me away, like a good friend committing suicide. So I now accept that I do what I can, much is beyond my control, life is just like that, weird horrible things really do happen out of the blue occasionally, and I will survive and learn, and move on. When I try to explain that to others, I’ve been accused of “just not caring about anything”, or “not having a clue about what’s really going on”. Well, I do care enough about the quality of my life not to piss it away having anxiety attacks over imaginary threats, and I know exactly what is going on: it’s life, it’s challenging, scary, and surprising, and I am glad to be alive and making the most of my time here. Have a good week. P.S. I bet you are the best dad ever!!!!!!!!!

    • That is what I’m talking about, Donna! Life is so unpredictable, and it is insanity to spend our precious thoughts, energy and time on trying to control the uncontrollable. Like you said, most of the things that we worry about never happen anyway, and I’d rather conserve my energy to deal with the actual drama that presents itself in our lives (like your friend’s unexpected suicide.) The people who are accusing you of not caring because you’re not worrying, are definitely missing the point. Keep doing what you’re doing my friend, because you are absolutely on the right track :). And by the way, thanks for the daddy compliment! I work hard every day to be the best daddy to my little ladies!

  5. Awesome post!

    A simple technique I use to combat worrying is a change of mindsets; I simply remind myself that the act of worrying is a reaction from me in response to external factors.

    Sure, I might not have control over the things happening around me, but I always have control over my reactions to them. And seeing how worrying is nothing but a reaction, it should be completely within my control.

    I believe this simple mindset (that you are in control) can help quite a bit in overcoming excessive worrying.

    • I love it, Mathias. Remembering that we are always in control of our response at any given moment is the core of positivity. Not only does it help with excessive worrying, but I believe that it helps with everything. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’ve been a worrier since I was a little girl. Growing up with very young ill-equipped parents where sometimes tensions became volatile I had to read people in order to control situations… or so I thought. I was the buffer, the go between, and the fixer of their problems. That’s a pretty big job for a little girl. I turned to food as a means of protection and comfort. I even went on to get my MA in Psychology to carry on my job as an emotional caretaker. Now at almost 50 I’m finally learning how devastatingly bad worry is for your physical, spiritual and mental health. Your post really hit home tonight for me. Ending years of worry I think starts by first acknowledging it and then doing the steps you suggested along with creating some physical responses. I’ve found that there is nothing like exercise and/or EMDR to combat worry. Thank you so much for this post tonight. I really needed the reminder!

    • You are SO welcome, Julia! You are right, that is a lot for a little girl to have to deal with. As you undoubtedly know, the key to overcoming any challenge is the understanding that the challenge is real. Just the acknowledgement that worry is problem for us puts us on the path to fix it. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I’m thrilled to hear that this post hit home!

  7. Thanks for the practical, real suggestions. I’m keeping a copy of those 3 things to remember when worrying. Although not as “chronic” a worrier as I used to be, it creeps in; these 3 will remind me.

Trackbacks

  1. […] >> 3 Steps to Overcome Worry and Find Peace Excerpt: Worrying is like borrowing potential pain from the future just so you can repeatedly experience it in the present moment. It doesn’t help you deal with the challenges of life, it adds to them … […]

Speak Your Mind

*