One survey says 40% of the things we worry about never happen; another 30% of our worries are in the past, and we can’t do anything about them. 12% concern other people, and are really none of our business anyway. 10% are about sickness which we can do very little to control. Only 8% of the things we worry about are worth worrying about.
A simple search of the statistics cited above will yield many websites. Clearly, a lot of people are addressing the grasping nature of worrying and want to share some thoughts on the topic. It wasn’t, though, until this morning on Premier Christian Radio that I heard these statistics for the first time. So struck was I by the findings that I rewound the radio and wrote the statistics down while hearing them for a second time.
The Bible has some important thoughts on worry: namely, why worry? It won’t add years to your life; I suspect it will in fact shorten it. If we explore that way that our unconscious mind works we can grasp what’s going on here. The fact is our unconscious mind is so adept at addressing whatever is “on our mind”. So good is it (in this case though unhelpfully) that it will process our ‘worry thoughts’ at incredible speed and rapidly lead us to a belief where we may well feel helpless and defeated: trapped and literally choked by the worry. (The derivation of the word: ‘worry’ is in fact from the Anglo-Saxon ‘to choke’. )
So, how can we address this situation? Firstly, simply recognising that only 8% of worries have any usefulness or genuine benefit to us is certainly a very good start. How refreshing that would be to be able to devote our time and energy on things that are genuinely happening and need our attention and not on things that won’t ever happen?
Secondly, if it’s not one of the 8% genuine worries how about blurting out what’s ‘on your mind’ and then writing it down or getting a friend or Powerchange coach to write it down and work through it with you? This helps identify a worry for what it probably is: namely, a past event (although it may be that the experience of that past event has remained with us; a Powerchange coach can help you resolve that) or something that will simply never happen in the first place and so isn’t worth our time and energy. If it’s one of the 12% worries that arise from other people’s thoughts of us it’s often useful to ask ourselves when we first believed what was being said to us. This helps us identify unhelpful beliefs and frees us to decide to change those beliefs for something altogether much better: you can, you know! There there are many tools that we can use to unlock the connection between the event and its unhelpful meaning and replace it with a new meaning: one that we want to have.
Round about a year ago I was in a hospital theatre undergoing surgery to remove for analysis three small growths on my body. I already knew that one of them was BCC (a form of skin cancer) and the surgery was to remove this fully from my neck. The other surgery was to remove and analyse two other moles to check that they weren’t cancerous. I am relieved to say, praise God, that neither of the moles were cancerous and the removal of the neck BCC has been fully successful. Worrying about the procedure, what they might find (or not) and what would then happen would not have made any positive difference to me, only the reverse. I decided to simply leave the procedure and all the associated outcomes in the very capable hands of the experts at The Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford (for which they did an excellent job) and in God’s hands (I believe in a God of miracles). Worrying about any of this would only have added further grey hairs to my ever greying hair! It would probably have made my health much worse too. A strategy that I adopted here was no different from the one that I adopt in other situations. I asked myself the questions: “So, what am I going to do about this then?” And, “What would that give me?” I could have chosen to worry; all that would have given me is stress and more grey hairs! Instead, I put my trust in the surgeons and in God; that gave me peace.
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