The Worry Habit

Two monks were walking to their monastery home in the countryside. After a heavy rain, puddles of water, large and small, dotted the byways. After some time they saw a young woman by the road, staring down at a deep puddle, apparently frightened to walk across. The elder monk went to her and carried her across the road. Then the pair of them continued on their way.

In the evening the younger monk appeared distressed and worried. The elder noticed this, and asked what was troubling him.

The young one replied, “Sir, is it not true that we are forbidden to touch a woman?”

The elder monk answered, “That is true”.

The younger monk asked, “Then, Sir, how did you bring yourself to touch the woman?”

The elder monk smiled gently and told him, “All day you have been troubled by this, as I can plainly see. How is it that, while I left her there, you are still carrying her?”

There’s a lot to be said about the worry habit. We worry obsessively, and seem unable to control it. We worry about things we can’t control. We worry even though we know it doesn’t do any good. We worry when people encourage us to chill out. We worry when things go well. We worry when something wonderful happens – like, you win the lottery and worry about who’s going hit you up for a donation or a loan.

We can puzzle all day and night over “why” we worry; and then we can worry about not having the answer. That’s a brilliant strategy!

Or we can address this problem in a practical way, by looking for a solution. Here’s one thought. If you have ever said to yourself, “I’m a worrier.” Or “I’ve always worried, as long as I can remember.” Or anything along those lines … what you’re saying is “that’s who I am”. Describing yourself that way makes it hard to change, because you’re saying that being a worrier is a part of your essential being, as if it were an arm or a leg.

I challenge that conclusion. I invite you to consciously, purposely change the words you’ve been using to think about the worrying. Think of the worry as a habit, not as a part of your personality. You are not born with a habit. A habit is something you pick up along the way. And because it’s not really a part of you, it can be changed, just as many people have shed bad habits.

Check out this article from Psychology Today.

If this is not enough to inspire you to break the worry habit, and replace it with a positive habit, give me a call at 219-309-3928. I probably won’t need to carry you across a puddle, but I think I can help you in other ways.

Thanks for reading!