Do you ever find yourself worrying about things you can’t control? How about things that are not very likely to happen but you still obsess about them? I grew up with a mom who was a major worrier, and I adopted a worry mentality myself. I played the “what if” game a lot growing up. What if I don’t make first string on my basketball team? What if no guy asks me to the prom? What if my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere? What if I can’t get into graduate school? What if I never find the right guy and get married? What if I get pregnant and the baby turns out to have a fatal genetic disorder? What if I become paralyzed in an auto accident and can never work again?
One day I heard a story that helped me stop worrying about things beyond my control. Imagine you have a bag full of worry stones. Each human being is born with their own bag and it’s got exactly 100 stones inside of it. Every time you worry about something, you have to spend one of those stones, and you only get 100, no more. On what would you be willing to spend your stones?
I have found this way of looking at worry to be very empowering. Now whenever I feel some worry coming on I ask myself if I’m willing to spend one of my worry stones on it. Usually the answer is no. “What if we can’t get tickets to see so-and-so?” Who cares. Life goes on. “What if someone steals my car?” Big deal, I have insurance. “What if something bad happens to one of my parents?” I’ll deal with it if and when it does but I’m not going to worry about it in advance. “What if I get on stage and my guides abandon me?” Well it will make a helluva story in the blog.
I do think there are times when it’s appropriate to worry. When your child is in surgery, when you’re staring down the business end of a gun, when the levee breaks and the waters are flooding in, etc. That’s what I’m willing to spend my worry stones on, things that are actually happening, not things that may happen one day.
The next time you’re feeling worried ask yourself if it’s worth a worry stone. I think you’ll be surprised at how many things just aren’t worth worrying about.