Worry Wisely

In the 1980’s, when my friend Ruth and I led workshops for women, we often drew on a tool called Worry Wisely.

This simple and valuable tool involved naming and listing worries, and then assessing them, as to whether they were real or imagined and whether you could act on them. 

First, there’s something powerful about just listing these worries, acknowledging and accepting they are there.  I found this valuable recently given my worry list seems long, keeps growing and can keep me awake at night.  

Noting which worries or problems I could take a small action on, gave me some relief and perspective.  Even though they are many, I note one foot in front of the other for each of them.

As for the worries that were ‘unwise’, perhaps about the imaginary possible future, or ruminating about something I have no control over, they involve a different process. Here is where I find it helpful to rely on the stress management practices and tools I have accumulated over the years.  

One of the first places I go for unwise worries, is to a form of mindfulness practice, first acknowledging that worry or fear, what it is about or telling me, and asking myself if this helpful to be thinking about right now. 

Dr. Jennifer Taitz the author of the recently published book Stress Resets: how to soothe your body and mind in minutes, refines this process and refers to it as Anchoring. She suggests that the next time your thinking is spinning you in the wrong direction, take a moment to feel the weight of your feet on the floor, grounding, then consider: What am I thinking? What am I feeling in my body right now? What am I doing right now? Then, ask yourself: Are my thoughts helping me at this moment?

Taitz’s book notes the dismal stats on stress and provides a significant set of tools for handling stress under a variety of situations.  I think it is a great toolkit. 

Whether or not you are a worrier, this practice is helpful.  What I think is not helpful, is to say to a worrier, don’t worry.  It is like saying don’t grieve, don’t be sad.  Acceptance of the worry is important.

Check out your worries and see if you can worry more wisely and worry well. 

I delight in sharing my thoughts, such as these, in a  newsletter, typically every few months. And now and then, ideas show up our Facebook page. Always love to hear from you via email.