Stewing Without Doing

“Worry is as useless as a handle on a snowball.”
Mitzi Chandler, writer

When you study the origin of words, you learn that the root word for “worry” is “choke” or “strangle.” Worry literally chokes off your emotional energy.

Other people have defined worry as negative goal setting. It’s focusing on what you DON’T want to happen. Still others would say worry is stewing without doing.

But they all add up to one thing. Worry is one of the most destructive, time-wasting things you can do to yourself… for several reasons.

* Worry is unreasonable.

After all, you’re trying to control the uncontrollable. And to worry about something you cannot change is stupid. To worry about something you can change is useless.

* Worry is unnatural.

As Alice Caldwell Rice put it, “Ain’t no use putting up your umbrella til it rains.” In fact, it would be kind of silly to walk around… all day long… with an open umbrella above your head. You know, intuitively, that you should live one day at a time.

* Worry is unhelpful.

Worry has no power to prevent problems or solve problems. Just the opposite. Usually worry paralyzes you. You get nowhere.

As Katherine Dowlin told her children, “Worry is like a rocking chair. You can rock all day and get nowhere.”

But here’s a few tips to get you started.

=> 1. Refuse to be a victim.

Many of the things you worry about involve the unacceptable behavior of other people. You may even organize your whole life around the emotional, spiritual, financial, and interpersonal messes these people make. And they may get to the point of expecting you to clean up their messes.

What a worrisome burden to carry! So make a decision that you will no longer let yourself be a victim to someone else’s destructive behavior. Stop rescuing the other person from the consequences of his or her behavior. Refuse to worry about the other person’s choices.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, but you’ll get better at it if you…

=> 2. Practice the “10 percent grace factor.”

I learned this technique from Lisa Ford, a world renowned expert on customer service. At one of our professional meetings, she shared the following from a devotional booklet.

“Assume a ten percent grace factor in your life.

“Assume you’ll pay ten percent more than your share of a dinner check shared with friends. Grace in your friendships is certainly worth that.

“Assume that the bargain you got will cost ten percent less somewhere else tomorrow. Grace reduces stress.

“Assume that you’ll get cheated about ten percent of the time and that you’ll lose about ten percent of your property one way or another. It costs to add grace to your life. It’s worth it.

“When you travel in another culture, assume a twenty percent grace factor. Then if you feel cheated by a taxi driver or someone else, it won’t ruin more than a few minutes of your trip. Traveling in other countries required grace.

“Public grace will, in private, reduce tension, improve your perception of the world, improve your relationships and increase your job.

“You’ll end up with more of everything.”

Good advice. If you practice the 10% grace factor, you’ll have a lot less to worry about. And then…

=> 3. Re-focus your attention.

A lot of worry and negative emotion is the result of a misplaced focus. And a misplaced focus is a recipe for spiritual suicide.

I like the poster I read one time. It gave a formula for spiritual success. It said:

“If you want to be distressed, look within. If you want to be defeated, look back. If you want to be distracted, look around. If you want to be dismayed, look ahead. If you want to be delivered, look up.”

Joyce B. Brown has a similar sentiment. She says, “Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks up.”

In essence, both of the authors are recommending a change in focus. Take the focus off yourself and your worry and put your focus… or your faith… in something bigger than yourself. After all, there is no problem that is too big for God’s power or too small for God’s concern.

You see… when you spend too much time focused on yourself, you’re concerned with EGO. And EGO really stands for “Edging God Out.”

Now some of you may get a little defensive when I talk about God. That’s your choice. You can call it God, Higher Power, or whatever you want.

And you don’t have to be all religious to believe in something bigger than yourself. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “An atheist is a person who watches a Notre Dame – Southern Methodist University football game and doesn’t care who wins.”

I tell people that if something is big enough to worry about… it’s big enough to pray about. And I like the way one of my clients puts it. Dave Nelson from Prudential sent me the following:

There’s work to do, deadlines to meet;
You’ve got no time to spare, But as you hurry and scurry –

In the midst of family chaos,
Quality time is rare.
Do your best; let God do the rest –

It may seem like your worries
Are more than you can bear.
Slow down and take a breather –

God knows how stressful life is;
He wants to ease our cares,
And He’ll respond to all your needs

Worry will never do you any good. And despite what you think or what you’ve been told, you don’t have to worry if you apply these 3 techniques.

Action:  Take a look at your focus when you worry. Are you focused on all the things that could go wrong and how powerless you are? Or are you focused on something bigger than yourself that has the power to bring about good?