Children learn anything and everything by observing others. I learnt to worry by observing my mother. I watched her worry over our finances, I watched her worry over my ill-health, I watched her worry over my brother’s academic performance, I watched her worry over my father’s kidney failure and its consequences. I spent the better part of my life learning to worry.
The trouble began when I began to practice this lesson. I worried along with my mother every time my brother was late from work. I worried when I became pregnant with my now ten-year-old son, I worried when I went into labour. I worried over his health, and development. Ultimately, I began to worry over the fact that I had taught my son to worry.
If you have noticed it, when you talk to your parents about something that is bothering you, they will immediately start working on finding a solution towards it. That is why they send in a hundred thousand job opportunities the minute you go – “Mom, I think I might lose my job.” They are also the same ones who are responsible for all those bakers who call you after you tell your parents –“I am just not able to pick up the right cake.”
This is the case with friends too, and now we are spreading our worries all over the social media, in the hope of finding solutions from others. We transfer our worries to others just by showing it, talking about it, and creating a drama around it.
Worry has now become a universal health hazard.
So how do we overcome this worry?
First, let’s understand the Worry Factor.
What is the Worry Factor?
The worry factor is simple math. It is determining how real the worry is. If our colleagues are being laid off, and we are worried about something similar happening to us, then our worry factor is high. If many in our industry are getting laid off, but our workplace is still unaffected, then the worry factor becomes lower. On the other hand, if people in a different industry are being laid off, then the worry factor will be miniscule.
Why do we need to determine the Worry Factor?
When we determine the worry factor, we can also determine how much to “think,” “talk,” and “act,” over this worry. If the scale is high, then we can understand that the worry is very real. If the scale is low, then we should probably not waste too much energy over it.
So, what do we do next?
Next, we overcome our worry. Yes, it is very possible to that.
If our colleagues are being laid-off, and we are worried about the same thing happening to us, then we also have the capability to understand that it is about time we got off our arses and began updating our resumes and ironing our suits in preparation for job interviews.
While the worry might not go away, our brain begins to connect with the idea that we are doing things to “overcome” the worry. That way, our thinking does not stagnate in the worry, which if in stagnation, could increase the already high worry factor to a dangerous level that could lead to mental health problems.
Next, how do we deal with worries with lower worry factors.
In case of the other two situations, while the worry factor might be less, we are also thinking about it. The more we think about it, the more our brain connects with the worry.
Why is this bad? Because our brain is busy making the wrong kind of connections. When we look into it, the more we worry, the lesser time we have to think and do things that are more important like our family, our health and our work.
An ideal situation would be where the brain is busy making happy, interesting and exciting connections. In other words, our brain should be more focused on making “healthy” connections throughout the day. So how do we overcome this worry factor each time we face it?
I have always been a child of imagination. While a human has now replaced it, imagination, for a long time, used to be my best friend. When I understood that my worries were a figment of my imagination, I decided to use imagination itself to lower my worry factor.
I practice something that I call reverse thinking
When I think of a worry, I also think of a solution to the worry. I script my own happy or relieved ending. The point is to not leave the story incomplete, because every situation is a situation that has a solution. If the problem begins from our head, the solution is also right there, inside our head. If the problem begins outside our head, as in the case of the lay-off situation, then the solution is right there around us. We just have to find it.
Another way to reduce the worry factor is to take diversions. Do things that are interesting because when the brain smells “interesting,” it talks “focus.” And when we are thinking of something interesting, we are not thinking of our worry. As in the case of my sister-in-law who has started designing clothes. She has begun to do it, because she has always found designing “interesting.” But now that she is doing something “interesting,” she is also talking more about her “interesting” work, and less about the constant worry that her daughter might get lost, every time she turned the other way.
Whether it is reverse thinking or taking diversions, what it takes is practice to help our brain understand and work on building the “right” connections.
What is the ability to Overcome? Why is it important? And why should we be worried about it? Find out in my next post.
- What are your Worry Factors?
- How do you respond to your worry factor – how much time do you spend thinking, talking and acting on it?
- How is your worry affecting you – mentally and physically?
- How do you plan to lower your worry factors?
Good luck in overcoming your worries!