THE PARADOX OF WORRYING — It Doesn’t Help Anyway

To worry is to be human.  Isn't it?  Some of us, however, are more 'human' than others. 

To prepare for the future is clearly necessary. To avoid  unnecessary chaos and confusion is totally reasonable and rational. 

Worrying that immediately leads to change and pro activity is useful.

I'm talking about the other kind–the hand-wringing, pacing around, losing sleep and NOT acting on the worry, or not being able to act on it.

The Serenity Prayer speaks to this issue. Grant the serenity to accept what we cannot change.  That means NOT WORRYING about what we cannot change.

This type of  worrying is beyond the rational.  It tastes of obsession and paralysis.  It leads to suffering.

I realize how difficult this is.  For many it requires breaking a habitual response to stress. For others it may represent some irrational thinking–"I need to worry, otherwise something bad will happen."

A simple observation should demonstrate what I mean.

Think about all the times you worried–about everything.  You worried about a job, a relationship, whether you would hit traffic, the weather, if a loved one was safe, your health.

For the most part–I'm referring to statistically speaking.  The vast majority of time you worried, everything was OK. Yet in those moments of worrying, you suffered terribly.  You imagined the worst–and you experienced it!

Of course there were times when things did  not work out for the best.  But did worrying help in any way?

The worrying just added extra suffering.  The results, if negative, produced enough on their own.

The truth is that most of the suffering that we experience seems to arise unexpectedly–an accident, a phone call that someone died, bad news about a friend or relative.  Unless you are psychic (which I'm not) I don't seem to be aware ahead of time for most of the negative events that occur.

So the paradox is this–what you worry about usually doesn't happen.  What you don't think about, does.  So why worry?  Do what you can to address the nature of the worry.  Once that has occurred and it is out of your hands–let it go!

Worrying will not  change anything.  It causes suffering in the moment. It just adds extra suffering to a challenging existence.

As some wise person said, worrying is paying interest on a loan you haven't taken.

 

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