Worrying goes against the grain | Sunday Observer

Worrying goes against the grain

I met Pamela (not her real name) after ages. We used to work together in a private firm for many years. Although she had a few more years for retirement, Pamela resigned from her job, and then we lost contact with each other. She was no longer the bubbly woman who used to laugh and crack jokes. As she had a worried look I asked her, “What do you worry about?”

She looked at me hard without smiling. “You know I am single. After my domestic aid left me, I have been living alone. There are 101 things to worry about early in the morning. I have to think of all the things that I should do, could do, or ought to do and what might happen on the following day. All day I deal with the little worries such as marketing, cooking, feeding my cat and paying numerous bills. At night I worry about big problems.”

“Did anything bad happen recently?”

“No serious problems so far, but I have my worries. And I am exhausted,” Pamela said.

Pamela is not alone when worry is an exhausting problem for millions of people. Sometimes I wonder whether worries are really bad. We worry most of the time not over real problems, but anticipated issues. Effective planning would help us to deal with anticipated problems.

Excessive worry

However, excessive worry is quite unnecessary and unproductive. According to psychologists, toxic worry is a disease of the imagination. It destroys your ability to enjoy life. When you live in fear of anticipated worries, you won’t find the time to associate with your relatives and friends.

In the first place, we have to understand what reality is. Certain events in life cannot be changed. For example, if you have a child suffering from an incurable disease, there is no use worrying over it. When you misread reality, it leads to a loss of perspective and purpose in life. For instance, one of my colleagues was worried that the company he was working for might go bankrupt. He was worried about losing his job. But worrying over such matters will not produce any good results. You have to think of an alternative solution. A possible solution is to look for another company where your services are needed. Dwelling on worries will only drain your physical and mental energy.

When you lose your perspective, you begin to think that you are powerless over life’s demanding situations. Very often we get stuck in traffic snarls and worry about being late to work and getting a pay cut. You begin to curse even the government for importing so many vehicles. But, have you ever thought of starting your journey a little earlier than usual? Such a course of action would have prevented you from getting caught in a traffic jam. By cursing others you lose control over yourself.

You can develop perspective in several ways. My old teacher taught me one of the most valuable lessons for life. He said, “Never worry over things you cannot change.” On the other hand, when you worry alone, you intensify the situation. If you are worried, talk to someone you trust. If you do not have such a person, meet someone at “Sumithrayo” for free and friendly advice. By explaining your worries to another person, you can unburden yourself to a great extent. Even if you cannot find a sympathetic ear, there is another way to unburden yourself. Talk to yourself. Aaron Beck, an innovative psychiatrist, developed a technique called “Cognitive Therapy” in which a worried person can restrain his habit of thought. Instead of taking your own life or thinking that you’re ruined, you can adopt a different approach.

Cognitive Therapy

According to Cognitive Therapy, you can begin to monitor your own thoughts analyzing them minutely. Such a course of action would help you develop alternative methods to deal with your worries. In any case, if you have worries, always consult someone else. A second opinion will give you a better perspective. Cognitive Therapy will bring you closer to the truth disengaging you from self-created distortions.

One effective method to get rid of worries is to maintain a journal. Write everything about your worries in it on a daily basis. When you do so, most of your worries will disappear without your knowledge. Keeping a journal has helped many people to get over their worries.

This is because the entries in a journal will help anyone to keep all their worries in perspective.

Physical exercises such as jogging, playing tennis or cricket will also help you to get rid of worries. Psychologists have guaranteed the results. Any physical exercise would reduce tension and frustration. While enhancing a sense of well-being, exercises would also help you to sleep well and concentrate better than on other days. Physical exercises are probably the best antidote to worry.

If you are unable to take part in physical exercises, controlled breathing can reduce tension. Taking a deep breath and releasing it would provide great relief. When you repeat it, the results will be quite evident. If you join a meditation or yoga class, you can reap rapid results.


Modern civilization has isolated man. Mobile phones, computers and television have discouraged us from associating with others. Today, we rarely visit our relatives and friends. In order to reduce the tension of modern life, you have to redevelop your connections with others. There is nothing like meeting someone and having a friendly chat. In the distant past people had less worries because they stayed connected with others intimately. According to religious leaders, there is less tension and depression among those who attend temples, churches and kovils. Worshiping images and praying to God can relieve much of your tension. Places of religious worship calm our minds.

If you are engaged in some productive activity such as writing or reading, you won’t have time to worry over unnecessary matters. When you do not have a passion for something, you naturally fall victim to worries.

Some people believe, alcohol and drugs would help them to deal with worries. Unfortunately, they would worsen the situation. If possible, learn how to play a musical instrument. Listen to soothing music. Sing a song. All such activities would bring you happiness.

We are not born to worry about life but to enjoy it meaningfully!

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