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3 Simple Steps To Stop Worry In Its Tracks

Sitting

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow.  It only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the worrywart extraordinaire.

Worry: verb: To give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

Fret, be anxious, brood, stress, panic.

If worry came with a degree, mine would be a PhD.

As a child I worried about my schoolwork. I worried if other kids would laugh, or not, as the case may be. I worried if I’d pass the test, miss the bus, make the team, or fall on my face.

As I grew, so did my worries. Not only did I worry about myself, I also worried about my friends and family. I even worried about complete strangers.

My worry became paralyzing.

As soon as I decided on a course of action, my worry went to the other extreme. I’d worry that I’d be late to an interview, and when I arrived in plenty of time I worried that I was too early. And when my family and friends began to bring it to my attention, I worried about how much time I spent worrying!

It seemed that nothing was right, that there was no way to stop this endless cycle.

Then one day, as I sat in a little cafe (worrying if I had ordered the right thing), I over heard a snippet of conversation from the next table over.

Two older women were seated there, one obviously of the nervous nature, conservatively dressed, worrying about doing everything right. The other, flamboyantly dressed, seemed as comfortable as if she sat in her own living room. By the ease with which they talked, it was obvious they had been friends for a long time.

“You’re such a worrywart,” flamboyant said. “I’m surprised that you don’t worry about where your next breath of oxygen will come from!” 

The “worrywart” part got my attention; the “next breath” statement kept it. This stuck with me, niggling in the back of my mind.

“I’m surprised you don’t worry about where your next breath will come from” kept popping into my thoughts unannounced.

Of all the many, many, many things I’ve worried about, I can honestly say I’ve never worried about taking my next breath.

It got me thinking: Why am I so trusting in my next breath when I’m so untrusting of in so many other areas? Suddenly I was on a mission. I had to figure this out.

So I began to keep a list of all the things I worried about. And you know what? I discovered something truly amazing.

I discovered that when I acknowledged the things I was worried about, they became less frightful. In fact, when I reread my list of worries, some of them seemed downright silly. I discovered that most of my worries were completely out of my control.

I began to wonder, if I had that much faith in my next breath, why not have faith that all things would work out for the best?

I found myself thinking, “What if I believed everything would work out for the best?” 

I started to play a little game with myself, something I call the serendipity game. It goes like this:

If I’m running late and find a front row parking place—serendipity! Write it down.

If I’m thinking of a friend and they call two seconds later—serendipity! Write it down.

If I’m wishing for a little extra cash and find $20 in my coat pocket—serendipity! Write it down.

The more I looked for these serendipity moments, the more I found—and the less I worried.

Did all the worry, anxiety, and nervousness disappear? Not entirely. We all worry from time to time, but now I know how to stop it in its tracks!

The next time you find yourself in worrywart mode, try this:

  1.  Write down all your worries. Every single one.
  2.  Read the list and ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do about it?” If not, let it go.
  3.  Keep a serendipity list to consciously notice everything that works out well. (You may be surprised!)

It’s funny how a little part of an overheard conversation could make such a difference.

Funny how a little serendipity can change a life.

Photo by puuikibeach

Avatar of Lia Carroll

About Lia Carroll

Lia Carroll is the creator of The Bloom Life Planner, a weekly planner and step-by-step guide providing motivation, inspiration, and support in creating a life of joy. She believes there needs to be a little more laughter in the world, a few more smiles, and a lot more JOY! Visit her at www.grow-your-joy.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

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  • Dan Garner

    Nice ideas. I like to say to myself “What if everything goes well.”

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  • http://twitter.com/ZenPresence DSG

    Nice ideas. I like to say to myself “What if everything goes well.”

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  • Angela

    This is such a huge idea for Buddhism in general: letting go of expectations, which are really what lead us to worry. Easy to understand…tough to do.

  • http://twitter.com/EIWoontner Elena Iglio Woontner

    Its not it’s.

  • dee

    such a cute article! thanks lia :)

  • lv2terp

    Great post! I love a-ha moments! Thank you for this perspective, and wonderful tips! :)

  • http://twitter.com/GoalsHappenHere Goals Happen Here

    Oh, love love love the serendipity list idea! Worrying is the exact opposite of affirmations, vision boards, etc. — you’re creating what you don’t want instead of what you do want.

  • Rose

    One of my favorite books is “Happy Yoga: 7 Reasons Why There’s Nothing to Worry About.” I recommend it highly. It really transformed my thinking.

  • Jitn

    righty put down in words! Great !

  • kispa

    noticing what is going right – good idea.

  • Dochy

    The serendipity list idea absolutely ROCKS! :) Pat on the back Lia :)

  • Lia_Carroll

    Thanks Dee! Happy Day!

  • Lia_Carroll

    Thanks so much! May you Bloom!

  • Lia_Carroll

    I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you!

  • Lia_Carroll

    Thanks for the recommendation Rose – can’t wait to check it out!

  • Lia_Carroll

    Thank you! Happy Day!

  • Lia_Carroll

    Exactly! Thank you!

  • Lia_Carroll

    Aw, Thanks Dochy! *hugs*

  • Lia_Carroll

    Thanks Dan! That’s a great ending for the dreaded “What If” thoughts

  • Lia_Carroll

    So true Angela! Thanks for reading. Happy Day!

  • Bethany

    I think this was written to me, crazy?!?! I too would have a PhD in worrying if such a thing existed! It drives my family/friends insane. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing it to my attention & for the solutions to help ease some of the unnecessary worry!! :)

  • http://twitter.com/D2ECoaching Down to Earth

    Thanks for this! I’ve spent most of my life worrying about something, and taking that step to evaluate the reality of the thought has been instrumental in helping me stay present and enjoy life more.

  • Lia_Carroll

    That’s so true! When we worry we are generally thinking about the past or the future. We are rarely in the present. Thank you!

  • Lia_Carroll

    Thank you Bethany! Enjoy the serendipity game :)