Last year was tough, in more ways than one. I don’t think anyone is going to forget 2020 for some time. It was also a year of great insights, however, at least for me. The events of 2020 gave me insights into other people and the world. They also gave me insights into myself.
I have known for a very long time that I worry too much. (I worry that I worry too much!) Over the years I have learned methods to manage my worry. There are three key concepts to managing my worry that have become clearer to me over the past several months. I’ll share them in case they can help you, too.
One thing that has been clarified for me is that knowledge of a situation, lends, if not power over the situation, at least greater control over the situation. The more I learn about the virus causing Covid-19, the more I feel I have control over the situation. There are things I can do. I can wear a mask. I can social distance. I can avoid crowded situations. I can do many things to keep myself safe. In the process, I can keep others safe in case I have the disease and don’t know it. The more knowledge I gain, the more control I gain, and the less I worry.
Another thing that was clarified is that I can only control what I can. There are many things I cannot control. A major one is that I cannot control other people. I might be able to encourage them to adopt certain behaviors, but I cannot force them to do something they do not want to do. Although I can wear a mask, I cannot force others to do so. In the majority of situations, however, I can avoid being with them. All I can do is what I can do. It does not make sense to worry about things I cannot control.
I also learned something new. There is a difference between being concerned and being worried. I have become very good at remaining concerned about the pandemic without worrying about it. In my mind, being concerned means that it is there in the back of my head, I keep up-to-date as new information comes out, I control what I can, but I don’t actively worry about what might happen. I take appropriate steps to stay healthy, but I don’t need to focus on the pandemic.
I think I have used this last concept before, I just didn’t think about it in these terms. For example, there is a history in my family of heart disease and diabetes. I’ve never worried about me developing these issues, but I have been concerned enough that I lead a relatively healthy lifestyle. Now, I frequently tell myself something along the line of, “Yes, this is a concern. But, I don’t need to worry about it now” and then set it aside. It’s helped.
I use these three methods for many aspects of my life. I used the pandemic as an example here largely because it is something we are all experiencing, and experiencing at the same time. I hope that these techniques can help you as well.
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