I’ve never dealt with worry like I have over the last few months.
I uprooted my family, moved from the US to Italy, and dealt with several serious family concerns along the way, including the death of my last living grandparent.
It’s been rough, and while I’ve never considered myself a worrier, I have literally worried myself sick a few times over these trying times.
Being temporarily homeless for over two months is tough on a father. Even though we were actively looking for a place to live, I could tell that my children felt uncomfortable. They wanted a home. They wanted their own home.
I tried to tell myself “some children never have a home, at least I’m trying.” Trying to play the “so many people have it harder than I do” card, but when you’re living in the moment, you handle it based on your current circumstances. That’s why people who are literally starving can often handle it better than someone who is simply unhappy with their job. We can handle more than we think.
Well, my wife and kids got their home eventually. We now live in a beautiful home, and we have dealt with everything that needed to be handled, so I am essentially stress-free at the moment.
The worry, for the most part, is over. My job is still quite stressful (I am a War Planner, after-all) and we aren’t completely settled, but I have grown as a person more in the last few months than I did over the last couple years.
I’ve learned that worry is one of the leading causes of death, though it’s usually disguised in some form of physical disease or sickness. But worry is at the root of so many of the issues patients are dealing with in hospitals all over the world.
Most importantly, for the sake of this article, I have learned techniques to handle worry that actually work. And I’m still using them.
Many of these techniques are adapted from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. If you deal with worry on any level, you must read that book. It’s an easy read and it’s super cheap. I downloaded the Audible version.
What Do You Worry About?
When I reached out to the MoneyMiniBlog Community on Facebook, I got several responses to what people worry about.
There are all kinds of things to worry about and so many stressful parts of our lives. Here’s some of the feedback.
The first example relates to my situation:
“When I moved from Venezuela to Mexico this supposed to be easy but, I realized even with the same language the culture was different. 4 years later my company relocated me to San Leandro, CA and that was a new adventure with a new language too. The most important for me was to adapt to this new way to live. I thought I can understand English but, you learned a language when you understand the culture, the jocks, the slang people use in their daily life. Now, I want to start a new adventure in the real state investment so, welcome to the life… life is always go beyond to comfort zone.”
Language barriers can be stressful. Here in Italy, our landlord doesn’t speak English, and we don’t yet speak Italian, so the entire process was stressful. But since we viewed it as a learning and growing experience, it’s been a huge growth tool.
Here’s what another MMB Community member worries about:
“I am starting a cattle business and I need the land next door to be able to have enough land to do it. BUT when the land contract comes through it will only leave us $170 a month to live on and operate on. I know I will not be able to make any money the first year and not much the second year. What I have been doing to relieve the Stress is meditation, visualization (seeing me making money and enjoying the cows), Studying daily ways to make money in the cow business and looking at alternative ways to bring in funds.”
Meditation has been a huge help for me as well. I wrote a guide on how to get started meditating.
We often worry about stuff, assets and money, but then we remember that there are more important things in life, like our health:
“My biggest stress now is staying healthy my cholesterol levels are high enough for meds and my sugar levels are high. I try to take a walk or do something physical when i start to stress otherwise I go on a bad eating binge!”
We are nothing without our health. Plus, if we continue to worry, we lose our health. What’s the point of acquiring money if we worry ourselves to death?
It’s not even just health though. Our entire lives can be worrisome. Nobody ever said adulting was easy…
“My worries are my kids, our financial future, being healthy as a family and my husband finding his success in his career… I try to meditate and I believe every moment has its golden minute in it and is meant to be. Everything is part of a bigger puzzle, I tell that to myself, breath and try to not control the situation…”
And again, from a another member:
“My worries are my baby continuing to be healthy, and my husband working towards his dream of being a pilot. I don’t have any good strategies in place right now. Maybe I should read the book you mentioned!”
…and she can read this article! I’m going to give you some practical tips to deal with worry, some things that actually work.
I’ve tested these ideas and found great success…
1. Take the “Two Week” Attitude
One way of dealing with worry is to ask yourself a question:
“Will I be worried about this in two weeks?”
If the answer is “no,” then what’s the point of worrying about it right now?
Think about all the things you were worried about last week, month and year. Sure, some things stick with us, some things are more serious than others, but overall, worry is quite temporary.
Worry itself is never helpful. It’s good to be concerned, and a small amount of stress can actually help motivate us, but worry is never a good thing.
2. Ask “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”
I don’t mean these to be famous last words.
This isn’t a “hold my beer in watch this” type of question.
When you’re dealing with a situation, ask yourself seriously “what’s the worst that could happen?”
And even if the worst is really bad, you must accept that as a possible outcome. Once you’ve accepted the worst possible outcome, you can accept anything that happens. You’ll be surprised how the worry disappears.
What if the worst is losing your job, or even worse, losing a loved one? You have to deal with that outcome. If that happened, you would keep moving forward. You can always find another job. In time, you will be able to deal with the loss of a loved one.
No matter the outcome, if you accept the worst now, you have nothing to worry about.
3. Live in “Day-Tight Compartments”
In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Carnegie talks about “day-tight compartments.”
A ship has water-tight compartments that can fill with water, be shut off from the rest of the ship, and keep the ship afloat. This is how we must view our days.
One day at a time. Worry about today if you must, but don’t worry about tomorrow.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34
Always plan for the future, but only involve yourself in today. You can’t change the past or the future. Live in the present.
4. Remember That it Probably Won’t Happen
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” -Mark Twain
It’s true, as much as 85% of what we worry about never actually happens.
If we remember that there is a good chance that what we’re worrying about won’t actually happen, we can calm down. It doesn’t always work, but it does always help. At least a little.
We are worrisome creatures. Sometimes this actually takes verbally telling yourself to calm down and stop worrying. I’ve fought with myself before over worries and thoughts that don’t deserve space in my mind.
Why worry when you can use positive self-talk and/or pray about the issue?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
5. Do Something Radical
The final idea is to make a huge change. This might seem counterproductive, but it often isn’t.
You may be dealing with a lot right now, and you may need to get away.
Here are a few options depending on the situation:
- Take an extended vacation. This doesn’t have to be expensive. You could go on a long hike or camping trip and spend next to nothing.
- Move to a different state/country. Doing this caused worry for me due to the circumstances, but if your worry is all tied to where you live, try making a radical change by moving far away.
- Quit your job. Your job may be the main stressful factor in your life. Why do you still work there? Life is short and there are always other jobs out there. Don’t let your job kill you.
Sometimes the radical choice is the right choice. Don’t do anything radical without first counting the cost, but life is too short to be stuck in a situation that is detrimental to your health.
It comes down to this: if it can be changed, change it. If it can’t be changed, don’t worry about it.
Even if the outcome could be severe, worrying won’t help.
If you’re somehow stuck in a situation that can’t be changed, and it’s pure hell, worrying won’t help.
Worrying will never make things better. It will always make things worse.
Of course, this entire article and all these tips, are easier said than done. I know that.
But give these techniques a try and let me know how they work for you in the comments below.