Stop worrying and take control
Nobody’s life is worry-free, but that doesn’t mean our worries need to ruin our lives. Learning how to manage our worries can make all the difference in our well-being. This is what a busy young father learned. He had a challenging career and was feeling overwhelmed with his many responsibilities.
He would come home from work every night feeling anxious and even physically ill. He found it very difficult to sleep at night. He went to his physician for help; he prayed and pondered about what to do. The man soon realised that he needed to stop worrying so much. But how would he do that?
In time, he was inspired with a simple idea: he got two baskets; one he labelled “worry” and the other “concern.” Then he organised all his challenges and responsibilities into one of the two baskets, even if only mentally. The things he could do nothing about went in the worry basket, and those he had some ability to resolve went in the concern basket.
In this way, he could focus his attention on concerned issues over which he had some power. He could prioritise these issues and do his best to resolve as many of them as possible, without wasting time on worries that were outside his control.
Of course, just putting something in the worry basket didn’t make it go away, but he did find that, if he was patient, solutions emerged very often with divine help or even just the passage of time.
The anxiety didn’t vanish all at once, but whenever he felt it stirring inside him, he stopped what he was doing, prayed for support, and said to himself, “I am not going to do something else until I begin to control my emotions.” Over time, as he learned to put worry in its proper place, his health and well-being improved, and what was once a weakness in his life became one of his strengths.
Worry can be disheartening, leading us to feel overwhelmed or powerless. But when we put our worries in their proper place whether in a basket or simply out of our minds, we can take purposeful action, be resourceful, and tackle the problems within our control. Eventually, instead of being filled with worry, our lives will be filled with patience, perspective, and peace.
Sometimes in our lives we all feel as if the world is spinning out of control and we worry about unnecessary things. Hearing about tragedies and perils near and far can cause us to worry about how things will turn out.
While there is solace in accepting things we cannot control, we also need to feel that there are some things we can control, that will determine, at least to some degree, the direction of our lives.
An unknown author wrote: “The greatest battle of life is fought out within the silent chambers of the soul. A victory on the inside of a person’s heart is worth a hundred conquests on the battlefields of life. To be master of yourself is the best guarantee that you will be master of the situation. Know thyself. The crown of character is self-control.”
In the end, self-control is the only real control in life. Efforts to control others or even to control our circumstances usually don’t succeed. But we can become the master of our self. We begin by controlling our thoughts, then our words, and ultimately our actions.
We gain more self-control when we daily strive to choose goodness and kindheartedness, to be honest and trustworthy, to care for our mind, body, and soul. Our self-control deepens as we set worthy goals and achieve them, as we make promises and keep them, and as we simply do our best to live with integrity.
This striving for self-control is rightly called a “battle,” for we all have tendencies we must fight to overcome. But those tendencies don’t represent our real selves. As we begin to take control of our lives, we come to understand who we truly are.
We find that our true identity has less to do with the mistakes we’ve made in the past and more to do with our potential for future growth. We aren’t defined so much by where we’ve been as by where we are going.
There are many battles that need fighting in this world, many wrongs to be righted, many changes to be made. But to win any of them, we must first win the greatest battle of life, the battle most worth fighting: the battle for self-control.
By Samuel Enos Eghan