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How To Stop Worrying About Things That Are Out Of Your Control

How to stop worrying

Worry is a frequent companion for everyone who has befriended their anxiety because it’s a quiet form of anxiety. Knowing how to stop worrying is vital for the anxious person, as worry can become unwieldy when it’s the result of things outside the person’s control.

But that doesn’t mean worry is bad. Worry is simply an emotion you experience because you’re human and because you care, hope, desire, and love.

And because worry is an emotion, you can exert some control over it. It is possible to learn how to stop worrying. You can at least learn how to stop being consumedwith worry about things that are outside your control.

If you’re going to learn how to stop worrying about things that are out of your control, you must know what those things are.

This gentlest form of anxiety can nudge you along into doing what needs to be done so you can excel and demonstrate your love for others. But your worry can never nudge people or things outside your control into doing what needs to be done. On the surface, this sounds obvious; yet it’s extremely challenging.

The line between what is within your control and what is outside your control can often seem to blur.

This difficulty in determining what is yours and what is someone or something else’s is poetically condensed in the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.

God grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
~Reinhold Neibuhr~

As this prayer hints, worry is best channeled into choices that are within your control. It stimulates energy. And, if you’re courageous, that energy can be used for great good.

When you view your worry as an open door inviting your participation, rather than as a thick wall stopping your progress, you story changes. Suddenly it becomes one of appropriate control and growth instead of being powerlessly stuck in worry.

Yet when the focus of your worry is something over which you have no control, your worry feeds on itself. It has no purposeful or controlled outlet. And it can escalate into louder forms of anxiety.

If you find yourself stuck in worry or escalating worry, it’s probably due to something that’s out of your control.

Now it’s time for you to ask yourself this series of questions that can help you learn how to stop worrying.

  1. Is happiness one of my goals in life?
  2. Who is responsible for my happiness?
  3. Is my worry about this taking away from my own life, and happiness?

Worrying about things over which you have no control pulls you away from your own happiness. You rob yourself of the channeled energy you need for your own growth. And it’s distracting.

It’s only when you are taking control of what you can, and putting your worry into solutions that you can be fully present for those you love and care about.

And isn’t that why you started worrying in the first place? You love and care about others. So, if you continue to worry about things over which you’re powerless, you prevent yourself from being available for loving and caring for others. (It also prevents you from achieving your hopes and desires.)

The Serenity Prayer illustrates a valuable distinction we need always consider between the choices we have, and the choices we wish we had. The prayer’s questions are effective tools we can use in coping, regardless of whether we engage in prayer. Deciding what’s in our control is a key step in taking control.

For some, these tools will be the only ones they need to conquer inappropriate worry. For others, they will be a useful starting point for learning how to stop worrying about things that are out of their control.

 

For more help managing anxiety, check out my new book, Hack Your Anxiety, register for my free mini-ecourse by signing up for book bonuses here, or check-out my anxiety and relationships blogs.  

Photo by Natalia Figueredo on Unsplash

 

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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