Ending Worry: Three Easy Steps to Put an End to Your Worries

Image representing the end of worry, symbolizing the topic of putting an end to worry in three easy steps.

Worrying never makes today any less sad. It merely takes the fun out of today.

-Leo Buscaglia

I’ve always been the one who causes the most concern.

To worry is to succumb to discomfort or disquiet, to allow one’s thoughts to ruminate on problems.

Worry, be concerned, panic, fret, brood, and stress out.

If anxiety were awarded degrees, I’d have a Ph.D. in it.

I was always anxious about my education as a kid. I was concerned that the other kids might laugh at me or not.

I wasn’t sure whether I’d bomb the quiz, be late for the bus, fail to make the squad, or somehow embarrass myself.

My concerns multiplied as I got older. I was concerned not only for my own welfare but also for that of my loved ones. Strangers were a source of concern for me.

My anxiety was paralyzing me.

My anxiety moved from one extreme to the other the moment I settled on a strategy.

My anxiety about being late to an interview was matched only by my anxiety about being too early.

And when people I cared about pointed it out to me, I worried about caring too much.

Everything went wrong, and it felt like there was no way to break the pattern.

Then one day, I was sitting in a tiny café, worrying whether I had ordered the appropriate item, when I overheard a little of the discussion at the table across from me.

There were two ladies of advanced age seated there, one of whom was clearly apprehensive, given her conventional attire and preoccupation with doing things perfectly.

The woman, dressed more extravagantly, seemed at ease, as if she were in her own living room. Their familiarity with one another was palpable in their conversation.

The colorful one remarked, “You’re such a worrywart.” I can’t believe you don’t fret about where you’ll get your next dose of oxygen!” 

The word “worrywart” drew me in, while the phrase “next breath” kept me interested. I couldn’t get this out of my head; it kept bothering me.

Inexplicably, the phrase “I’m astonished you don’t care about wherever your subsequent breath will originate from” kept entering my mind.

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I can declare without a doubt that despite my many, many worries, I have never worried about breathing.

It made me wonder why I put so much faith in the air I’m about to breathe when I’m so skeptical about just about everything else. In an instant, I had a goal in mind. This was something I needed to work out.

I decided to start keeping track of my anxieties by writing them down. You know what else? I learned a fantastic secret.

When I gave voice to my fears, I found they diminished in intensity. Some of my concerns appeared laughable as I reread them. Most of my concerns turned out to be totally irrational.

If I could put so much trust in the air I was about to breathe, I reasoned, why not trust that everything would turn out okay?

I started to wonder, “What if I just had faith that everything would turn out okay?”

A game I like to term “the serendipity game” was born in my head. This is how it works:

It would be serendipity if I were to arrive late and obtain a parking spot in the first row. Make a note of it.

If a buddy of mine calls me just when I’m thinking about them, I’ll chalk it up to serendipity. Make a note of it.

It’s serendipity if I discover twenty dollars inside my overcoat pocket just when I might need it. Make a note of it.

I discovered more and more of these happy accidents the more I sought them, and my level of anxiety decreased accordingly.

Have you lost your fear, stress, and anxiety? No, not really. We all experience concern at some point, but I’ve learned to halt it in its tracks.

Try this the next time your anxious mind starts to wander:

1. Document your concerns in writing. Every one of them.

2. Peruse the items and ask, “Can I do anything to change this?” If not, then drop it.

3. Create a “serendipity list” and add each positive occurrence to it. (It might shock you!)

It’s interesting how even a fragment of a conversation overheard may change everything.

It’s funny how happenstance can make a difference.

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