Worrying doesn't solve our problems

Worrying doesn't usually help us to solve our problems. Worries tend to be rather vague and as a result they lurk around. We don't usually get our worries out into the open to examine them closely, to find out what is really going on. They are too scary. And as a result, this vague fear hangs around, making us anxious for days.

Here are some simple techniques that have been shown to help. What about writing your worries down for a week, say. Write them down in your notebook or smartphone and tell them that you will deal with them later. You can now get on with what you are doing and let the worries go for the moment. Later, you can deal with them with proper seriousness. What exactly are you predicting? How likely is it? What action can you take to make this better? That turns your worries into problems, and you know how to deal with problems. You can feel brisk rather than oppressed.

This technique helps you spot themes. What am I usually worrying about? Am I going over the same old ground time and again? Is it something I can do something about? Or is it something where nothing I do will make a difference, because I have no control over it.

The following tips are from the Harvard Business Review in May this year. Though they relate to business, they have general relevance for our everyday lives when we are worrying about making decisions.

  • Get input on pros and cons.
    List advantages and disadvantages and ask others for their perspective on which carries the heaviest weight.
  • Balance short term with long term.
    Determine what you'd be willing to give up in the long run for some important short-term gain - and vice versa.
  • Gauge support.
    While weighing alternatives, think about who will support a particular idea and who will oppose it. Ask whose support you can live without, and whose backing and buy-in you absolutely need.

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