Transforming Worry Into Action: It’s All About Control

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength. – Corrie Ten Boom

Worry is as natural to me as breathing. I worry about everything, from whether I’m eating enough vegetables to whether it will rain on May 1 to whether my DVR recorded the latest episode of “Chopped” on Tuesday night.

Interestingly, I don’t worry about the bigger issues in my life – whether my cancer will return (statistically it will), whether my business will continue to thrive (historically it will) or whether my family and friends will be safe from harm’s way (prayer helps here!).

Since it is difficult to kick the worry habit, I’ve learned how to cope with this incredibly strong instinct in two powerful ways: by picking and choosing my worry “battles,” and by learning to transform my worry into action.

It is legitimate to worry about certain things because it motivates you to excel. However, it’s ridiculous to worry about other things because it just paralyzes you and often can prevent you from pursuing your life’s passions.

The differentiating factor has to do with CONTROL. How much can you CONTROL a scenario? If it is within your power to control a situation, it’s worth transforming your worry into action. And if you can’t control a situation, it’s worth letting go of your worries and getting on with your life.

For example, if you are worried about doing well on a test, this situation is in your control: you can either study harder or even find a tutor. You can translate that worry into action. So stop worrying and start studying. And if you are worried about arriving to a dinner date on time, stop worrying and give yourself enough time for traffic. And if you are worried about finding a job, stop worrying and start sending out more resumes, hone your skills, network more … cover all your bases.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are taking a plane flight, it is SENSELESS to worry about the plane crashing – let go of the worry and leave the flying to the pilot. And it is pretty useless to worry about the price of gas (no real control), a power outage, Los Angeles traffic or the next Southern California earthquake.

The bottom line is that when you are worried about something, take a minute to determine if it is in your control or not. If it is in your control, transform your worry into action and do something about it. If it is not in your control, let it go.

My cancer may come back at some point in the future, but I am NOT going to let that fact steal my happiness TODAY. And it may rain on May 1, but then I will just pack an umbrella.