And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
— Matthew 13:22
- Make a list of things that you have worried about in the last day or week or month. This is your “worry list.”
- Make a list of painful, damaging, and tragic things that actually happened during that time period. The is your list of things that were worth worrying about.
- Calculate the probability of something you worry about actually happening.1
- The worry list is longer than the list of things worth worrying about.
- You didn’t anticipate many or most of the incidents on the list of things worth worrying about, so neither did you worry about them.
- The probability of something on the worry list happening is small, maybe even 0%.
- If any incidents on the worry list actually happened, notice that after they happened you stopped worrying about them.
- We worry mostly for no reason. In other words, in light of what we actually worried about, i.e., mostly nothing that was real, our worry was hysterical. 2
- We don’t know what to worry about, because we worry mostly about things that never happen and don’t worry about things that actually do happen.
- The worry we expended did nothing to help us constructively deal with the painful, damaging, and tragic events that actually happened. Instead, worrying depleted our emotional resources, reducing our ability to deal with real events.
- After a worry-worthy event occurs, we stop worrying and figure out how to deal with it, or we start worrying about a dozen other things that might happen as a result. In other words, we only worry when facing the unknown.
For further investigation
- Why do we automatically worry when facing the unknown? Why don’t we feel safe?
- If most things we worry about are imaginary, what actually causes our worry? Something must cause it.
- How could understanding what actually causes our worry help us manage or reduce it?
- We don’t get an opportunity to worry about unforeseen events. Does lack of worry about unforeseen painful, damaging, or tragic events detract from our ability to deal with them?
- Do this by counting the number of items on the worry list. Then count the number of those items that actually happened. Divide the second number by the first and multiply it by 100. That is the probability as a percentage. Mine is usually 0%. Sometimes a worry item actually does happen, and then my probability ranges between 5% and 20%, depending on how worried I’ve been.
- “behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess <political hysteria>” @ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hysteria