Have you been having trouble worrying lately? Do you feel as though you’ve lost your edge? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. I have thirteen suggestions that are sure to help you pull out of your worry-slump and get you back in the saddle, riding high and proud of your mastery of the art of worry.
1. Keep a “worry” reading file. This will be your reading material for things to worry about. When you’re watching TV, reading the paper, or listening to friends and neighbors talk, collect all the bad news you can. To guarantee a constant stream of bad news, you will need to expand your network of fellow worriers—people who will worry with you and people who will clip bad things for you. If necessary, buy a second or third file cabinet, or a bigger file cabinet. Don’t store all the bad new in unwieldy boxes where it’s cluttered and junky. Keep it in order at your fingertips, where you can get to it at any time, so you can worry about it.
2. Compile your own personal worry list. Keep this list in a notebook—a big one. Put down everything that you’ve ever worried about or expect to worry about. Search your memory for old hurts and time-worn grievances. Remember that last year’s worry is just as valuable as a new worry. Never throw away an old worry, even if the problem has been solved. Keep your worry list under lock and key. A visitor in your home who’s running short on worries might steal some of your worries. Then he’d worry over your worries as well as worrying that he stole some of your worries and you wouldn’t have enough to worry about yourself.
3. Set aside a day every week for worry. Choose any one of the seven days of the week to review your worry list and your worry reading file. There’s no such thing as a bad day for worrying. Anxiety is always in season.
4. Organize your worries into two headings: the worries that you can help, and the worries that you can’t do anything about. I want you to spend most of your time worrying about the second category, that is, things that you can’t help. There’s no despair in the world like the despair of fretting about something that’s out of your control.
5. Keep a back-up list of things to worry about. On this list, put the names of anyone who’s ever spoken crossly to you, ignored you, talked about you, or made fun of you behind your back. When you review this list, it will make you sad; it will put you in the mood for more worrying. Once you smother yourself in sorrow and memories of old hurts, you’ll be surprised at the abundance of new worries that you’ll discover to fret about.
6. Avoid all interruptions. Warn your friends not to call you on the phone during your worry hour. What you don’t need is for a friend to call you with good news or a cheery word.
7. Invite a friend or a neighbor over to help you worry. Remember, misery loves company. Your neighbor can bring his or her anxieties, thus doubling your worry.
8. Set a certain time to worry, say, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. If you’re going to worry, be methodical about it. Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate. Rid your mind of anything good; major only on gloom and doom. You’ll find that this will intensify your uneasiness, and it will often give you that longed-for martyr complex.
9. Set aside a place to do your worrying. Don’t worry just anywhere. Pick a special room or closet. Never, never worry in a cheerful place such as a sunny porch or a colorful garden.
10. Wear special clothing on your worry day. In warm weather, wear a wooly, scratchy garment that makes you feel itchy and uncomfortable. In winter, wear a thin shirt that gives you the shivers. If you’re going to invest your time in worrying, do it right. Make yourself as miserable as possible.
11. Select a special chair to sit in while you worry. Never worry in a comfortable chair. Why, you might relax and fall asleep and enjoy a pleasant dream.
12. Lay in supplies. Surround yourself with a box of Kleenex, a hot water bottle, a pot of strong black coffee and a giant economy size bottle of aspirin. Take separately or together, anything to upset your equilibrium. Jumpy nerves or an upset stomach can help make your worry day all that you hoped for.
13. On your worry day, stay away from the Bible and prayer. It’s okay to read your Bible and pray any day except your Worry Day. Keep the Bible closed that day, because you might read a verse about faith or hope or forgiveness or love or beauty. And also, don’t pray on your Worry Day. If you pray about your anxieties, God might give you peace of mind. On your Worry Day, you don’t want peace of mind; you want misery. You deserve misery. So don’t deny yourself the privilege of gloom and despair. If worry works for you, give it the time to fester, to stagnate, and to sour.
Thank you for reading my article about worry. I hope it has given you much to consider. If you’d like some extra worries to add to your collection, comment below, and I’ll send you a list.
If you know of others who could benefit from this little exercise, please share!
Happy Worry Day to one and all!
“Making Worry Work for You”
from Tinyburg Tales
a radio broadcast heard years ago on BBN