Growing up I was a varsity level worrier. At the time I had no clue why I was a worrier, I just was. All through elementary and junior high I would think of all the worst-case scenarios that could happen in most situations. It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up to be an actuary. Now looking back, I believe it’s because I look at things globally. I’m a big picture guy. I am constantly playing things out in my head and how they effect the long term. Forecasting has become a useful skill as an entrepreneur, but when forecasting leads to worry it’s a burden.
Towards the last two years of high school I didn’t worry as much. I began to become more confident in myself and had a group of great friends. That allowed me to stop caring as much about what those outside my tribe thought. I didn’t say I stopped caring, I just didn’t let it overwhelm me.
I went from a worrier to a person who believed “it’s all going to work out.” By “it’s all going to work” I meant in the long run. In the short term things can suck, but they had a long-term purpose. Then I became a dad and an entrepreneur in the same week and the worry monster crept up. I had more people than myself to worry about.
I found myself more worried than ever before about money and about decision making. Every decision big and small would lead me to play out a movie on how it would affect my future. In some ways it kept me from doing a lot of stupid things and in another way, it held me back from taking risks. After several years of this parenting and entrepreneur thing I was able to move towards concern instead of worry. That’s what I want to relay to you today. If you can discover the difference between worry and concern, it can be life changing.
The big lesson to understand is that concern and worry are different. Now for those of you who have ever seen a dictionary you may say that worry and concern are the same. Technically that may be true. I’m looking more at the response to them. For me worried it’s more like a state of despair and it can become crippling. In a state of worry people can stay stagnant and afraid to progress forward. I think concern means you have actions you can take in the situation instead of the situation taking you. Concern is state of readiness and preparation to tackle a problem as it forms or to prevent it from happening. Worry can manifest the problem while concern can prevent it.
According to H. Stephens, “There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem”.
I wish I had some magical moment and story to explain how I made change from epic worrier to a person of concern. What I believe led to this transition were three things.
First, I really began to rely on my faith and lean into the word of God. My favorite scripture for worry is Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to purposed.”
If I truly believe God has the best interest for me, I need to look at challenges and tough times with the “it’s going to work out” philosophy and look for the lessons to be learned.
The more I investigated scripture I discovered Matthew 6:25-33 which is a must read if you worry. Effectively Jesus says, “don’t worry I got this.”
My favorite line is when Jesus says that worry doesn’t add an hour to your life. This is so true. For example, if you are a worrier you may get worried when one of your loved ones is late. All the crazy scenarios run through your head in moments like this. They haven’t called, was there an accident etc. We have all been down this road. Practically thinking does worry keep them safe or get them home faster? It doesn’t, not in any way shape or form. Do bad things happen? Yes, they do.
We have received the horrible phone call about the deadly car accident. It’s one of the roughest things my family has been through. Having been through this terrible scenario it would be easy for my family to worry about not hearing from someone on the road. What we know is worrying wouldn’t have prevented the drunk driver from hitting my sister-in-law. Worrying now would only allow that tragedy to poison our lives further. Faith allows me to trust that a larger force is in more control than I am. My worry changes none of this. My worry can’t prevent tragedy. My worry can prevent me from living a wonderful life.
The second thing that helped was having kids. The very reason’s I began to worry were a help in me overcoming it. The solution was a simple as this, I didn’t want to raise kids that worry. If they saw me worry, they may pick up the habit. I needed to model faith, strength, and how to show concern in a proper way. I needed to model everything I learned from my faith. I am by no means perfect. I am just aware of times when I am worried and how I let my kids see it. I share my concerns with them and let them share theirs with me. We talk things out and I look to try and get to the bottom of their worry. What’s causing this? What are the results if your worry comes true? How can we face it? What actions or thoughts can you take now to help alleviate the worry? Teaching them how to handle their worry life has helped me manage mine.
Belief in myself was the third factor in worry reduction. Frankly, getting older and going through life leaves a timeline of event’s I can look back on where things worked out. The other thing I learned is that most of the things I worried about never happened. There are is a lot of research on this. Several articles I looked at said between eight and fifteen percent of what we worry about may happen. While that seems like a lot, it means a vast majority of what we worry about doesn’t happen. Imagine if you eliminated all the superfluous thoughts and the items you can’t change. Then you can get a clear picture of the legitimate worries and develop an action plan. Having strategies to face things will help you go from worry to concern which leads to being prepared to face a situation. The more you do this the more you can trust yourself in situations.
Worry is a thief, it steals your time, your mind, your faith and your life. Don’t let it. You have what you need to over come it. Go from worry to concern to prepared by leaning into your faith and philosophies. Look for those around you that can help you and whom you can help. Be a tone setter and show them how you handle circumstances. Finally begin to trust yourself and look at your path for times you overcome. Leaving a life of worry is truly freeing and what God wants and he says to cast our worries on him. (If you don’t believe in God then cast them on your dog. Your dog loves you to. Don’t have a dog, then well, I’m sorry.)